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A look at how a break in running training affects your fitness.
There’s nothing like running for giving you that incessant, nagging feeling that you really should be out for a run. This is of course no problem when you’re fit and healthy but comes to the fore when you’re laid out with an injury or illness.
How long am I going to be out? How’s it going to affect my fitness? How long to recover?
Well, after an injury took me out of action I had a look at the stats…
Cardio / Breathing
Geoff Gaudette on Runners Connect says that when it comes to your breathing (measured using VO2 Max):
“There is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is prudent here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a decently trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. Beginner runners will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a smaller base of fitness.
After two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by 6%. After 9 weeks VO2 max drops by 19%. After 11 weeks of no running, Studies demonstrate that VO2 max falls by 25.7% from peak physical fitness.
There’s also evidence to suggest that having a two week break in your running can lead to increased symptoms of depression such as anxiety or insomnia, although I can’t say I’ve noticed this in general. Only the depressing thought that my times will be getting slower the longer I don’t train for!
Two Weeks Off Running is Fine (yey!)
“You won’t lose your aerobic capacity or muscle power as long as your time away from running is less than two weeks.”
He even goes on to say:
“There are times when a week or two away from running is actually beneficial, such as after a strenuous marathon performance.”
So after a week to ten days out, it’s essentially about how it’s affected your confidence. Think you’re going to run a bad, slow race and you probably will. Go in to it thinking “I’ve had a nice break and now my muscles are full of fuel and energy!” and all should be ok.