Monday, January 13, 2014

So, You Ran A Half Marathon....Now What? Part 1

Well hey, everyone!  I hope your week is off to a rockin' start.  It was hard for me to get up this morning after a relaxing weekend.  More on that tomorrow :)

Today, I'm going to start a new series about what to do after you've run your first half marathon.  You may have set a New Year's goal to complete one at some point this year, or you may have just finished your first half marathon recently (at Disney this weekend, maybe?).  Well, after you get your bling, celebrate your accomplishment, and check out all of the race photos, a "Now What?" feeling seems to set in.
This series will talk about a few ways to beat that post-race anticlimactic feeling.

Part 1: REST and Reflect
Image Source
The first thing you need to do is REST!  You just put your body and mind through quite a trial, so give them some time to recover.  Easy walks, ice packs, compression gear, and lots and lots of water, electrolytes, and protein are great ways to help your body get back to normal.

As you rest, it's also a good time to reflect on the overall experience of your first half marathon.  There are three things you should focus on: the training, the race, and your body.

1. Training:  After you finish the race, think back on your training.  Did you stick to your plan?  Did it effectively prepare you for the race?  Did you sustain any injuries during training that held you back a little?  Where there some fuel/hydration techniques you tried/didn't try that were helpful?  What could you have done better to prepare you for race day?  Did you enjoy the training process?
My Rock 'n Roll Half training plan
Reflecting on your training will help you better reflect on the race itself, as well as help you realize what you want to do afterward.

2. The Race: The race itself is also important to reflect on.  Think about your favorite parts of the race, as well as what you did well.  It's human nature to focus on the negatives, but hey, you just finished your first half marathon!  You deserve some positive vibes first!
Throw yourself a little party!
Next, think about how you felt both physically and mentally during the race.  Use your training reflections to see if your training helped or hurt you.  Last, it's always good to discuss your race with someone you ran with or another runner friend.  They will be excited to hear about your race, as well as offer any advice if you need it.

3. Your Body: Last, you need to think about how your body handled the training and race.  Your first priority is to take care of any injuries that developed during the race by seeing a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, etc.  Also, deal with any recurring issues you experienced during your training.  Now that you don't have a training schedule to follow, it's the perfect time to get those taken care of.  Also, think about anything you could have done to prevent problems during training or ways you could have better prepared your body for the race.
Foam rolling is a great way to reduce some of the soreness!
Reflecting on these three things will help you decide what to do next after your half marathon!  Keep those reflections in mind, and make sure you stay tuned to Parts 2, 3, and 4 for ideas to combat your post-half blues.

Question for you: Those of you who are seasoned half-marathoners, what's a key reflection you made after your first half?

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