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Hungry Runner Girl: How much fitness do you lose when you can’t run!?

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Forced time off from running can happen to all of us at some point. Sometimes we get injured. Sometimes we feel like an injury is coming on and rather than making it worse by running through pain, we decide that it is a good idea to take a week off. There are times that work and home life become super busy, so running gets pushed aside for a few days or even a few weeks. Sometimes we are sick or taking care of sick those who are ill. Getting out the door for a run is just not in the cards.

Whenever something comes up and I am not able to get my runs in, one of my main concerns is about how much fitness I will be losing by taking time off. It is tough for runners to work so hard in their training, only to find out that they have to step back for a bit. We stress about regression and worry about how much of our running fitness we will lose with each day that we take off.

I absolutely love reading from the Hansons Marathon Method. I wanted to share with you what this book says about this topic, because it made me feel a whole lot better to see that we will be okay if we need to take a few days off. Consistency is key for successful training. But a little time off every now and then is not going to set us back too much.

Missing 1-2 days: “Training can resume normally without scaling back mileage or intensity. You lose a couple days of running; no harm done. While a number of missed workouts can spell your doom for your marathon goals, a single lost workout will never be your demise.”

Missing 3-6 days: There will be very small amounts of running fitness lost from taking this amount of time off. “After 3-4 days of missed training, come back slowly by running easy for 2-3 days, then pick the schedule back up and follow it as usual. If 5-6 days are missed, run easy for 3-4 days and then revert to the previous week’s training regimen.”

Missing 7-10 days: When you spend this amount of time away from running, your body does start to lose some of the fitness that you have worked hard for. If you can get out for a few short runs (with your doctors approval if struggling with an injury), then it will help with your comeback to running. If you can’t run, “commit to cross training to prevent a drop-off in fitness. Upon your return to running, you should run easy for the same number of days that were missed.”

MORE than 10 days missed: “After two weeks of lost training, the decrease in physiological gains are quite significant-as much as 3-5%. After 21 days away from running, 10% or more of fitness is forfeited.”

If cross training is an option during this time away from running, then do it! I love to pool run whenever I am injured. It helps me to keep as much of my running fitness as possible!

If you do have to take an extended time away from running, don’t stress out too much because it will always be there for you when you are ready to come back. Take care of yourself. When you do come back, you will return to running stronger and smarter than ever.

Resources: Hansons Marathon Method.