Why do we have a fear of being the last one. You put in the effort, your out on the course longer (which takes lots of endurance) and some how we feel like we’ve failed. Over the weekend I ran a half marathon and in the process crossed the finish line with a PR, as wonderful as that is, It wasn’t the highlight of my day. There were several of us that made the journey to this race and after I crossed the finish line they were still out on the course. A friend that had competed in the 5K event while we did the longer course and I went back out walking the course in reverse to give support to our other fellow athletes. A long the way we met lots of new friends and cheered them on as well. Once we made sure all of our group had come across the finish line we took part in group pictures and recalled the ups and downs of the race (in this particular race there where a lot). We had just started walking away to leave when they announced that there was runner(s) coming in and the last runner(s) had crossed the 12 mile marker. At that moment we all turned around went out on the course and formed two lines in front of the finish line to cheer. The looks on their faces of seeing that finish line, smiles so bright it pulls at you. Then several minutes later at the top of the hill with the golf cart and lights going behind them the very last bunch of runners. At this point the clock read 4:34:02, we all screamed, cheered, clapped them in from the top of the hill to the high fives right before they crossed the finish line. I don’t know about them but my emotions ran over for them. It has been one of the most amazing experiences for me as runner to be able to see the determination on their faces and those huge grins when they crossed that line. There is no shame in ever being the last one out, the only shame is in never getting out there and giving it a try.
Congratulations you’ve finished a half marathon. Hopefully you have had a great experience not just with the physical running side but also the atmosphere which makes these events so special. Your recovery starts as soon as you get across the finish line so here is some tips on what to do post half marathon to help avoid the aches and pains over the next few days.
Zero – Five minutes post half marathon:
You may feel exhausted, aching and needing a lie down however the best thing to do is keep moving for at least 10-15 minutes after you finish. Listen to you body but get a cool down in and keep moving even, go for a light jog or a walk. Just try not to sit down straight away, walk to the food or charity tent. Start your post race stretching and put some layers on as your body will loose heat very quickly.
Zero – twenty minutes post half marathon:
It’s vital to replace the fluid that you would have lost throughout your run as quickly as possible to help your body recover. For a half marathon distance try electrolyte sports drink, juice, water or the beloved runners favourite chocolate milk. You want to drink enough liquid so that your urine returns to a pale yellow, if its darker you are still dehydrated. Water is great but as you would have lost salt and mineral throughout your run try a combination.
In the first half an hour after you finish you want to eat some small, with main component being carbohydrate with a small amount of protein and fat. Good examples are a banana, fruit either fresh or dried, Nuts, bagels/baps, cereal bar/flapjack, yogurt or chocolate.
2 hours post half marathon:
After you finish your run try to have your main meal; half of the meal should be made up of carbs preferably whole grains with an equal amount of protein. Ginger and honey have also been proven to help and reduce muscle soreness.
Thirty mins – one hour post half marathon:
Stretching and Sports Massage
It wont be the first time you’ve been told about the importance of stretching after a race but there’s a reason way. After you have done your own stretches end the to the sports massage tent and get a massage. The therapist will often be able to detect muscles that you may not have notice being tight as well as getting deeper into the muscles. They will also be able to help you with dynamic stretches, which have been proved to be more effective than static stretches.
The evening post half marathon:
By the evening you should have refuelled and start to relax. Whether your staying in a hotel or you were lucky enough to be local and are able to chill at home make sure you keep moving. Just go for a evening stroll nothing strenuous something simple like a 10 minute walk with the dog at a very leisurely pace will be more than good enough. The most important thing is you get a good night sleep cause lets face it you deserve it!!
Three – five days post half marathon:
Get another sports massage to help with any aches and pains that you may have developed post race. You can read for about the benefits of Sports Massage here.
Four days post half marathon:
When should you start running again?
The general rule is between 4 days after go for a 2-mile light run just to keep your muscles moving. You want to reverse taper and start to slowly build up the mileage you are doing.
You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.
It’s race day! You’ll probably be feeling a mix of emotions nerve, excitement, fear or all of the above and more rolled into one. Here are some tips to get you to the starting line of your half marathon feeling calm and relaxed.
Get up early and leave plenty of time for breakfast and to get to the start. The last thing you want to do is rush to the venue. Go through your race details of where to drop your kit off and where the starting pen is. Have one last look at the half marathon course details including water stations.
Do a last-minute check of your kit bag make sure you have your shoes, clothes, race number with safety pins attached, timing chip if not already attached to your shoes, water bottle and food. Make sure your kit bag has extra layers for after the race and some dry clothes encase it’s a wet race.
Two – Four hours before the half marathon:
Eat a breakfast you’ve had before don’t try anything new, you don’t want an upset stomach. Try to eat 2?4 hrs before the starting time and aim for 1000 calories. Eat a combination of simple carbs with some protein for example bread/bagels, cereal, nut butter, low-fat yogurt, or milk. If you can’t stomach food try a fruit based smoothie.
Two Hours – Thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Have a pre-event massage 2 hr ? 30 mins before the race. The massage should be light and up-tempo to aid the runner in getting their muscles warm and ready for the race. The theory is to increase the blood going to the muscles. It also has been suggested to improve focus and relax before the race. The practitioner can also help with some dynamic stretches. It should not be used instead of a good warm up and stretches but to complement it. If you want some more information about how sports massage can benefit you check out my blog post on Sport Massage.
Up to one hour before the half marathon:
Keep your fluid intake up and drink 500?700 ml up to the hour before and then no more than 200ml 30 mins before. While you need to make sure you’re properly hydrated before you start, you don’t want to over hydrate or have to stop and take a pit stop mid half marathon.
Thirty – forty-five minutes before the half marathon:
Have a good warm up and stretch. Never stretch cold muscles always go for a light 5-minute jog before hand. Do the same warm-up you are used to and get into your normal pre-race/run routine. For more tips on advice on warming up check out my guide to the importance of warming up.
Up to thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Drink around 200ml this will be your last main fluid intake till the start of the race.
Twenty to thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Go to the start early, hand in your kit bag and have an old track suit or old foil blanket, to stay warm at the start but something you can just get rid off. Get to the pen 20-30 mins before the start so you know you don’t have to rush or add any extra anxiety.
Two minutes before the half marathon:
Leave it to the last few minutes to take your old kit off.
Most importantly enjoy the race!!
You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.
For other articles on Half marathons check out: What to do the week before, what to do after a half marathon