Half Marathon Preparation – part 3

A series of blogs taking you through your half marathon preparation

Half Marathon Preparation Part 3: the race itself and lastly, effective recovery.

The Race – The key to a good race is to do the same thing you’ve been doing in training and stick to a set pace. Time and again we see people blow up in the last three miles of a race.

We see on average 100 to 200 runners a week at Advance Performance, many of whom have started a half-marathon. There are two main reasons why runners don’t complete a race, either they didn’t train enough (for a whole host of different reasons) or they got caught up in the atmosphere on race day, charged off with the elite runners and blew up at the end.

Try to resist the temptation to follow those runners in the time bracket ahead of you, the race isn’t the time to try to set a new strava segment, or see if your lactate threshold has moved just because it’s race day, or see if you can average ten seconds per mile faster. All of this should have been carried out in your training.

Race day is simply about carrying out what you know you are capable of because you’ve trained for it and making sure you are working as hard as you possibly can but within your absolute physical limit.

Post-Race Recovery – Post race is all about enjoying your favourite food and lots of it!

On the more serious side of things, within a half hour of completing your race you should look to replenish protein and carbohydrate sources with fast-acting ingredients. Your healthiest option is a pre-prepared meal that you can have containing sources of meat/fish/dairy, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. An example might be a salad including pine nuts, boiled eggs, anchovies, potato or pasta, drizzled in olive oil.

If you want to go for the instant fix option then there are are plenty of different recovery shakes available on the market that are designed to do exactly the same job. Water is the key, you need to rehydrate following the run, preferably with an isotonic electrolyte based drink. The electrolytes will help you to replenish the ones you lost via your sweat during the race. Having either a meal or a shake prepared can mean the difference between a shorter, better recovery period and a return to running or a longer, more tiring, more painful recovery.

Compression clothing comes into its own here, as previously mentioned the garments are good at aiding recovery over a 24 hour period following exercise.

Ice baths aren’t usually available to most but if you do fancy it after the race then why not. Buy some bags of ice and jump in! A meta-analysis (a review of all studies on a given subject) carried out by Bieuzen et al in 2013 concluded that using contrast bathing – (some time in an ice bath followed by some time in a hot bath) was a more effective recovery strategy than just rest alone. If you’re mad keen on running and want to crack on as soon as possible after the race, or you want to get rid of your sore muscles faster then it’s definitely something you can try.

Fun – Above all else, try to enjoy it. People are motivated by different things, while some runners will be there to soak up the atmosphere and have fun, others will enjoy it simply because they are racing and they like competition.


Anyone who would like more advice is always welcome to pop in-store for help

Blog by – Matt Jeffery

Synergy Physical Training @ Advance Performance

About the author; Matt Jeffery is Advance Performance’s strength and conditioning specialist, he’s a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and runs a strength and conditioning company called Synergy Physical Training