You might not feel much like running for a week or two after your half marathon. That’s fine – your body and your mind have both worked hard, and there’s no rush to get back.
But soon enough, a runner’s brain and body will be itching to get back out on the road. How do you know when it’s time to start running again, and what should your post-race training plan look like?
Everybody is different, so before you decide on your post-race running plan, ask yourself a few questions.
> Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner?
> How long did your half marathon take?
> Have you been poorly since your race?
> Have you been sleeping well with low stress levels?
> Do you have any plans for another race soon?
As a general rule, more advanced runners will need less time off after a long race. Obviously, if you’ve sustained a minor injury (like muscle strain, blisters, or shin splints) you will need extra time off for the injury to heal. And if you have another race in the diary, your return to running will be dictated by that.
Most runners only “need” a few days complete rest after 13.1 miles. If you’re feeling well, and have no injuries, you could go out for a gentle trot after 3 or 4 days (although you don’t have to). But when can get you back into more serious training?
Fitter, faster, and more advanced runners could go on long or fast us after 4-5 days. Beginners or slower runners should wait at least a week. In reality, that first week will probably fly by anyway. Use your rest days to get extra sleep, cook healthy nutritious meals, catch up on time with friends and loved ones, or scroll through race photos and stories online!
Keep active whilst you wait to start running again. It’s important to rest your running muscles, but you can cross train to keep things moving (and to avoid losing fitness). Consider going for some long walks, cycling, or swimming. Aim to keep moving and work up a gentle sweat, being careful to avoid anything that mimics the impact and action of running.
Want to know exactly how to structure your first couple of weeks back? Here is a sample 10-day recovery plan for an intermediate level runner who ran around 2 hours for her half marathon:
Day 1: rest
Day 2: walk 2-3 miles
Day 3: walk 2-3 miles
Day 4: swim or cycle 30 minutes
Day 5: easy 30 minute run (arrange to meet a friend, or run your favourite training route)
Day 6: rest
Day 7: easy 40 minute run
Day 8: swim or cycle 40 minutes
Day 9: rest
Day 10: easy 45 minute run
Day 11: walk 4+ miles
Day 12: easy 45 minute run
Day 13: cross train 30-45 minutes
Day 14: rest
The most important thing to remember is that you need to recover from your half marathon. So, unless you’ve got another race in the diary, focus on full physical, mental, and emotional recovery. Have a post-race running plan, but don’t fret if you feel too tired (or you’re too busy) to stick to it. If you love running as much as we think you do, you will get back to it soon enough!