How Many Days To Take Off After A Half Marathon

Running a half marathon can be very taxing. Recovering from running 13.1 miles takes time for your body to repair the damage, build back stronger, and prevent any running injuries. A lot of runners wonder how many days to take off after a half marathon. The answer depends on a lot of different factors. 

Many runners make the mistake of jumping right back into training after running a half marathon. This is problematic because these runners overlook the many weeks of training it took to get to the start line and the microtears and stress on the musculoskeletal system done during the race. 

Healthy and smart runners prioritize and optimize recovery after a half-marathon, so they can build upon the fitness yielded from the training cycle and return to running faster. 

In general, runners should take two to four days off running after racing a half-marathon. Note that I said racing—not running. 

There is a big difference between running a half marathon at an easy pace versus running one at a hard effort. 

If your half-marathon was your goal race, you should take at least two to four days of rest.

It’s possible to run two days after a half marathon if your half marathon was treated as a long training run done at a comfortable pace or your half marathon time was less than 90 minutes. 

If your time was longer than 2 hours, it’s recommended to take up to a week off of running.

What Factors Determine How Many Days To Take Off After A Half Marathon?

There are many factors that determine how many days to take off after a half-marathon. The recovery time for your friend will likely not be the same as yours, so throw out comparisons and look hard at the following variables.

Six Factors That Determine Half Marathon Recovery Time

#1 - Race Effort

How hard you ran will determine how many days to take off after a half marathon.

If you ran your half marathon as a goal race or at a hard effort, you’ll need more time off from running (at least 2 to four days). 

If you ran the race as a training run at an easy pace, you may not need to take any time off at all. It’s possible to do a light recovery jog the day after, keeping your heart rate low and distance short.

#2 - Race Result

How the race went will also determine how much time you may need to take off running after your half marathon. 

If your race went poorly and you are feeling upset, it’s prudent to take several days to mentally recover and refocus. 

If the race went poorly and, as a result, didn’t overly tax the body, you can resume running as long as you aren’t mentally shaken. 

If the race went according to plan or better, resume training as normal after 1-4 days off.

If the race went well, but you are feeling fatigued, rest at least 2-4 days.

#3 - Race Experience

Whether running 13.1 miles is routine or a first for you determines how many days to take off after a half marathon. Many novice runners will not cover 13.1 miles until race day, while experienced runners will cover that distance at least one day per week. 

If you haven’t covered the half marathon distance before race day, take 5-7 days rest, or more, as needed. 

If you have covered the race length in training, resume easy running after 1-4 days of recovery if you are feeling up to it.

#4 - Race Time

The longer it takes you to complete 13.1 miles, the longer amount of recovery time you will need. 

If it took you less than 90 minutes to run a half-marathon, you may need only 2-4 days of rest. 

If it took you longer than 2 hours to run a half marathon, your body may need up to a week off of running.

#5 - Injury History

If you were recovering from an injury or staving one off during your half marathon training cycle, it’s smart to take more time off running. A week off running may help your body repair damaged tissue.

#6 - How You Feel

All these tips are guidelines and should not overrule how you feel. If you ran a half marathon in 90 minutes, it went great, but if you still feel drained after four days off running—then take more time to recover. 

Nothing should override how you feel. And only YOU know how you feel. So, listen to your body over advice from your coach, your friends, or even this article. In general, all runners benefit from taking at least 1-2 days completely off during half marathon recovery.   However, be sure to get in some walking during this time.   Get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water.  

posted Friday June 17th
by Whitney Heins