How to Rest and Recover after a Half Marathon

How to Rest and Recover after a Half Marathon

Rest and Recover after a Half Marathon are the most important things for the body after completing the 21 kilometers.  It is time to let the body heal and rest a little after achieving this milestone.

Not only the body needs it, but also the mind. By taking a break, you will begin the next cycle of training with higher spirits and better health. If the anxiety and the desire to train are significant, you could cross train (swimming or cycling) to avoid the impact and maintain physical activity.
The recovery is as important as the training, the rest period will help you eliminate muscle pain and fatigue, the typical consequences of a 21k.

How to Rest and Recover after a Half Marathon

Yes, you did it! But what now?

Dos & Don’ts

1. Don’t: Go horizontal.

Is crucial that you keep moving for at least 10 to 20 minutes after you’ve finished the half-marathon to allow your heart rate drop. You can walk, with this, you promote active recovery, you’re still pumping blood through your fatigued muscles and simultaneously clearing all the excess metabolic waste (lactic acid) that you accumulated during the race.

2. Do: Drink, drink, drink.

The first thing you should do after completing a race is rehydrating. It’s important to consume sodium in your rehydration beverage instead of just plain water so that you don’t let out all that you are consuming.

The easiest way to monitor your post-race rehydration is a urine test. Light yellow indicates a person is hydrated and dark yellow/amber usually indicates dehydration.

3. Do: Stretch out those legs.

Doing some basic static stretches after the race, paying particular attention to your quads and hamstrings to help promote better blood flow to the area.

4. Do: Change your clothes.

You probably already want to do this anyway, but it’s important to plan ahead and have someone who can bring you dry (or warmer) clothing to change into.

5. Do: Compression socks.

There is evidence to support the use of compression gear after you finish. That’s because it can prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities. You can put on socks that come up to the knee and keep them on until you go to bed to prevent pooling and to possibly prevent lactic acid buildup and swelling.

6. Don’t: Drink beer.

Yes, you deserve to celebrate, but alcohol is not recommended for at least 24 hours. Yes, we know beer is often a part of the post-race celebration but consuming alcohol on an empty stomach while your body is depleted means it will enter your bloodstream much more quickly and will actually dehydrate you further. Alcohol can also negatively affect muscle recovery and cause restless sleep.

7. Don’t: Eat acidic foods or foods high in fat or fiber.

Many people can’t even tolerate foods high in fat or fiber immediately after a race. To avoid gastrointestinal upset, go for a low-fiber, easy-to-digest meal. And the same goes for acidic foods and drinks. Skip the coffee and orange juice at brunch since they can cause stomach problems on an empty stomach too.

8. Do: Eat carbs.

The key to recovery is to get carbohydrates within 60 minutes after a race. This will help restore glycogen in the liver and muscle. Some people don’t tolerate solids well after a race, so fluids containing carbs such as chocolate milk or fruit juice are perfectly acceptable.

9. Do: Get protein.

The protein will help with repairing and rebuilding muscle after the race.

10. Don’t: Hug your pillow for the rest of the day.

Yes, you can face plant onto the pillow or your couch when you get home -you earned it- but plan to get up every hour to mobilize your sore muscles and keep yourself from getting too stiff. Your body will thank you when you wake up the next morning.

11. Do: Take an ice bath.

An ice bath, which studies suggest can help reduce next-day soreness. If a bath isn’t an option, be sure to do some light stretching before you get into bed.

12. Do: Ease back into your regular workouts.

Don’t expect to be where you were in the weeks leading up to the event. The answer to how much time you need to recover doesn’t exist. It varies based on factors like your age, running experience, and how hard you ran, the rule of thumb is to take one day off per mile raced. At least, avoid intense runs or workouts and stick to easy jogging in those first 10 to 14 days.

You may interest: 10 Common Running Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

Most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), it can last up to four days, in which case you should stop exercising altogether until it has improved. Once your muscle soreness has subsided, you can add in lower-impact activities like biking and swimming before you stride back into running. You’ll avoid the scary risk of bone injury and probably enjoy those post-race miles even more.


1. Regenerative trot

24 hours after the race, it is advisable to run 35 or 40 soft minutes; if possible on grass. This will promote the circulation of blood flow and soften the muscles that were contracted. After the regenerative trot, a good stretching session is necessary.

2. Do not resume demanding training

Running 21 kilometers on asphalt involves an outstanding effort for muscles and joints. The body needs rest and recovery. 

3. Eat well

After making such an effort and consuming so much energy, the body needs to recover everything it has lost. It is necessary to replace carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals. You have to eat some nutritious solid food rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Avoid fats and select easily digested foods.

4. Massage

Get a massage to reduce muscle pain, eliminate lactic acid, improve muscle recovery, and reduces fatigue. It would be ideal to go to a masseur with experience in runners.

5. Cold baths

Apply ice to inflamed areas or directly submerge legs in cold water for 5 or 10 minutes. This mechanism helps reduce inflammation and muscle discomfort since cold acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

6. Sleep

Sleep is a fundamental part of the training. When you fall asleep, the body is doing a lot of work to repair the damage from the exercise. It is the fullest moment of recovery. It is advisable to sleep 7 or 8 hours.

7. Take care this week

It is proven that after a tremendous sustained effort, for 90 minutes or more, there is a decrease in the antibodies, resulting in colds, for example. The advice is to dress appropriately over the recovery week. As always, what is sought is not to get sick or interrupt training.  There will be time to plan the next objective: after a race, whatever the result, you should not immediately think about the next competition. It is vital to give the mind a rest and enjoy the result and then think about what is coming. Remember that the mind and body are intimately related, and a tired or stressed mind can become a tired body.

Athletes should try to maintain or improve everything they gain with training and not interrupt the sport continuity. Functional recovery after a race allows resuming heavy training and improve for the next challenge.

It is not a myth: Many athletes feel the post-marathon depression. It is likely that you suffer some nostalgia for all the months of training before your 21K.

Fulfilling the goal you planned months in advance, leaves you with a certain sporting void.

Recovering from a 21k takes more than a week, take it easy and rest.

Many athletes take care of themselves before the race (feeding and training), but they forget that the body also needs help to recover after competing.

Enjoy your victory.

We hope these tips are helpful and share them with your friends.