Firstly, as tough as it seems having just run 13 miles, do a warm down. Light jogging and walking will contract the muscles and encourage blood flow transporting oxygen to those muscles whilst simultaneously clearing away waste products like lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Stretch if you want, although immediately after the race your muscles will be so tight and overactive that you'll be getting very little stretch from them - we're going to do A LOT over the next few days.
Next, get the nutrition right – (see previous post). This will make a huge difference to how you feel the next day.
NO ICE BATHS - the most recent research suggests there is very little benefit to an ice bath, and in fact it's probably going to do you some damage.
About two-hours after the race you might want to have a massage. This will aid the increase of blood flow again massively, providing increased oxygen delivery and waste product removal. Funds permitting, you could swap this massage for a foam roll and do it yourself. If you're not familiar with foam rolling, have a quick search online. If you use a gym, most have foam rollers these days, and you should be able to find an instructor to show you how. Below is a rough guide courtesy of http://www.elitemyotherapy.com.au
Preparation for race day
Have a massage! At some point this week, I'd really recommend you have a massage. At this point in your training it's likely that your legs are pretty tight and full of muscular adhesions. This will have negative effects on performance in a couple of ways.
Firstly tight muscles have require more force to work against - as muscles work in pairs, if the hamstrings are tight then your quads have to work slightly harder to overcome the resistance they provide when you lift your leg. It might only be fractional, but multiplied over the thousands of reps (foot contacts) you’re looking at in a half marathon; this will have a significant impact.
Secondly, the bound of muscle fibres don't transfer force very well. Using massage to 'iron out the creases' in your muscles will help them produce more force, and lower your risk of an overuse injury.
Get a good night's sleep - set your alarm to wake up with plenty of time for you to have your breakfast, take fluids on board and get down to the event.
Know where you're going to get to the race - plan the route, and if necessary visit the site before-hand. I can tell you from experience that you don't want to be rushing around finding the venue and arriving late, rushing your warm up and completely throwing off your mindset.
Go to the toilet… self-explanatory I hope (if not, see picture to left)
Following these tips is definitely going to get you round quicker, or if you’re just looking to finish the course then it will put you in a better position to do so.
Don’t forget – ENJOY IT! I’ve had a look at most of the course and it’s beautiful. Ealing is a great place to live, and the route includes parks, boulevards and I’m sure will be well supported by the residents of Ealing. I’ve competed in other races and weightlifting competitions where I’ve been so nervous (particularly my first competitions) that it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it in the first place – because you enjoy it and want to have fun and maybe make some friends along the way.
It’s my first half marathon so I’m looking to finish, although my competitive nature means that really I am aiming for sub-1 hour 40 mins. I’m looking forward to the day, as I hope you are too – if you see me on the course don’t be shy.