You’ve trained your butt off for your upcoming half marathon race. You probably know what you’re going to eat the night before, how much to drink in the morning, and you may have planned out exactly what you’re going to wear.
It’s great to be prepared, but what you do after your race is just as important as what you’ve done before. Good race recovery is essential to bouncing back quickly after the substantial effort of a half marathon. And being able to bounce back is great for your morale.
More: Top 5 Half Marathon Fears and How to Conquer Them
Follow these steps to ensure that you’re giving your body its best chance to recover after race day.
Recovery Phase 1: Right After Your Finish
You’re feeling exhausted, exhilarated and triumphant. That’s all great stuff, but it’s not time to sit on the grass staring bleary-eyed at your new medal. When you cross the ﬁnish line, don’t stop moving. Do a light jog or walk up and down the ﬁnisher’s corral to give your legs time to cool down and prevent cramping.
More: 13.1 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon
It’s just as important to hydrate after the race as it is during. Water is good, but you’re better off drinking something with electrolytes like coconut water, Nuun, a sports drink, or some juice.
If you’re going to follow only one piece of advice, it should be this one. After you cool down, stretch those legs and don’t be lazy about it. The more thoroughly you stretch now, the easier it will be to get out of bed tomorrow. And the more likely you’ll be to want to run another half marathon.
More: 5 Injury-Prevention Stretches for Runners