Just Finished A Half Marathon: What Comes Next?
If a runner thinks their last training run is emotional just wait until the half marathon is over. Before the race, there is nerves and excitement. During there are strong will and tenacity. This takes us closer to the finish line with each step. Then it comes into sight and all the feelings come pouring in. It doesn’t matter if its the first time completing one or the hundredth time. It’s impossible not to think back on the road traveled that consisted of so much hard work as racing to the end. That moment of finishing is priceless, and we are still on a runner’s high even until the next day. But afterward, for a half marathon finisher, we can’t help but wonder what comes next?
After signing up for a half marathon, many non-runners think we are crazy for running as many miles as we do. Maybe even some of us think we are crazy ourselves for taking on a such a monumental goal. But we spend weeks training and preparing for a half marathon. And then just like that, race day comes and it’s all over.
This doesn’t mean running stops just because the race is over. As the world wind of emotions starts to settle, it’s time to make the next move.
What Do After A Half Marathon
Congratulations about finishing a half marathon. Now it’s time to celebrate this major accomplishment. Wear that medal around your neck proudly. Right after crossing that finish line, keep walking and stretch. Allow time for heart rate to decrease. Then hydrate. Drink lots of water and munch on the free banana within a half hour after finishing. Many events have post-race parties with refreshments.
Enjoy the party then move it elsewhere home or to a restaurant for a proper meal. Many runners sip on celebratory beers. While it is okay to consume alcohol in moderation (the runner deserves a victory drink!), beer doesn’t have any many carbs to replenish sources as one might think. Only about one-third of calories in a beer comes from carbs. Plus alcohol dehydrates and interferes with glycogen replacement.
After eating take a nice long shower or bath then take a nap or relax for the rest of the day.
First Comes Rest Day
Make sure to take a rest day or a few. The day after the race should be spent resting and giving the body the break it needs. However, be careful not to become too comfortable on the couch. One of the best things to do to prevent getting stiff is to walk around. Try to stretch it out and keep moving every hour. And yes it counts to do a lap around the house in between binge-watching Netflix.
According to the Journal of Physiology, taking an ice bath may decrease muscle soreness the day after a big workout like a half marathon.
For some, this might be extremely hard to do. It could be tempting to go back out for a run. Those who really want to should limit it to a short run. Walking or light exercise like yoga is actually great for recovery post half marathon.
Make sure to continue to hydrate and take anti-inflammatory aspirin.
Sign Up For Next Race
Many runners feel a sense of grief and don’t know what to do next—especially if they don’t see a full marathon in their near future. One of the best ways to prevent this type of fitness loss is to keep on training.
One of the best ways to not feel a sudden void is to sign up for the next race before completing the half marathon. The runner already knows they have something to look forward to. For those who finish the half marathon and then lose their motivation to continue to run, signing up for another race helps to make sure the runner continues to stick to a schedule.
The day after the half marathon is a day when many runners sign up for their next one. After letting the reality sink in that they were able to complete this goal, the runner becomes hungry for more. They might want to push themselves to a time goal or just enjoyed the journey and event so much that they want to do it again.
Some runners space this out to then properly train for about 12 weeks to the next half marathon. But some more novice and more experienced runners schedule them back to back.
Those who are running a half marathon two weeks apart should completely rest and foam roll the day after the first race. Then do an easy 20-minute run followed by a rest day, and then increase the run by five minutes and alternate rest days for that first week. For week two, start with a rest day then run for 45 mins. Then rest, followed by a 40-minute run, then 30-minute run, then 2.5 miles for the next few days. Then complete the second half. There is no need to run long distance when the races are so close together.
It’s important to focus on recovery and don’t go crazy with speed work. A good strategy is to run for that PR for the first race and then run for fun for the second.
Shorter distances like a 10k or 5k post half marathon in the weeks after require less recovery. Signing up for a 5k after a half is a great idea for those who want to rest before taking on another long distance event, but still, love the race atmosphere. 3.1 mile is easy to complete after running a half marathon event. Not only is the distance more than manageable, but no training at this point is also not required.
Knowing that the runner can do 13.1 miles is all it takes to want to go for a full marathon. Many runners work themselves up to this goal. Some use half marathons as training runs for a full.
It might be time for a full next when the half marathon distance becomes easy. It’s also time when the runner wants to further push themselves and aim for a higher goal.
Those who are nervous about taking this next step should remember that it’s nothing but running a few more miles in training. Most training plans for a marathon only got to 20 to 22 miles. However, this is a big goal that should only be attempted when ready and with proper training. A half marathoner shouldn’t feel obligated to now sign up for a marathon. There are many runners who prefer the half marathon distance or have no interest in running longer.
Take A Break
Other runners are content with finishing their half marathon and want to take some time away from running long distance. Maybe their schedule becomes demanding and long runs are hard to get in. Or maybe it was a bucket list item that is complete and now there is no desire. Sometimes we need a break from racing and from running in general. Listen to your body and know when to pause to be able to resume when ready both physically and mentally.
Some runners want to continue to run but need a break from racing. This is true when they no longer enjoy running or the pressures become too much of being fast and aiming for a faster time. If this is the case, hold off from registering for a new race for a bit and run for the fun of it.
- How celebratory beers impact your body after a long run, News Website, Apr 13, 2018 ,
- Exactly What to Do (and Not to Do) After Running a Half Marathon, Fitness Website, Apr 28, 2018 ,
- Post‐exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long‐term adaptations in muscle to strength training, Journal, Jul 14, 2015 ,
- How To Race Two Half Marathons Back To Back, Running Website How To Race Two Half Marathons Back To Back, Aug 10, 2016 ,