At the bigger races of 10K or more they have massage tents after the finish, usually free. This was certainly true at the Capitol 10K last Sunday. I believe in taking advantage of them, as a good massage, especially for the legs, helps to relieve soreness and stiffness after the run.
Waiting in line for the massage, I got to talking to another runner. When discussing half marathons, he came up with some useful tips for race day and the period immediately before and after. I thought you might like to know about them, so I’ll share them now.
Race Day Tip #1
Before you run your first half marathon you will have formed a pretty good idea of your race pace, based on your long runs. Let’s say your pace is 12 minutes per mile, for example. Then start off your half marathon at a pace that is two minutes slower than your estimated race pace (in this case, 14 minutes per mile). Once you have settled down, you can increase to your full race pace.
Race Day Tip #2
This is for the week before the race. Assuming your race is on a Sunday, you will have done a long run of approximately race distance the previous Sunday. Take the rest of the week off. This doesn’t mean don’t run at all: what it means is take a couple of easy days during the week, then take Thursday and Friday off to rest your legs. On Saturday, walk for about 30 minutes to get your legs used to moving again.
Race day Tip #3
If you can, get a massage after the race. Then the next day, go for a walk again. You can take an easy run after a couple more days, but allow yourself at least a week to recover before any serious running.
The usual rule is one day for each mile you’ve run, but unless you’ve put in a really hard effort, that may be more than you need. Let your body tell you when it’s ready to start serious running again, and then use fartlek at first. With fartlek it’s easy to adjust to your body’s demands.
I assume you supplement with vitamins and minerals. For a week before the race and a week after, increase your supplementation. I use a variety of supplements from Life Extension.
I hope these tips will help you in your first half marathon: good luck!