How a Break in Running Training Affects Your Fitness

Not running for two weeks

Not running for two weeks!

As you may have noticed from my recent posts, I haven’t been running much over the last couple of weeks due to blisters sustained in a half

marathon. No training and no races, with just a couple of swimming sessions to keep things ticking over.

With my next championship race upcoming this Sunday, I began to panic about if and how my lack of running may have affected my fitness. My last ten mile race was in November 2013 where I got a PB of 66 minutes, so this time I was hoping to go sub 65 (one of my targets for this year).

So off I went to find out how not running for two weeks affects your running fitness!

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.

So according to Geoff I’ll be running my 10 miles 6% slower – so should finish in about 70 minutes.

Mental State

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!)

Matt Johnson at Runners Academy says:

“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.”

Well my Blackmore Vale Half Marathon run was probably the toughest run I’ve ever done, mentally and physically so perhaps a little break has been of benefit. My dodgy ankle niggle that I couldn’t seem to lose has certainly disappeared!

Basically it’s largely about 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.

Next Training

Blisters feeling better so will attempt a leisurely 5 miler this evening. Need to do something before 10 miles on Sunday!

3 thoughts on “How a Break in Running Training Affects Your Fitness

  1. My coach always said that 10 days was ok.
    I once had to stop a month, when I resume my training I didn’t feel much difference but in the speed, which I’m sure is the first to go. Endurance was pretty much the same.

  2. I’ve also read you don’t lose fitness in a couple weeks.. however I can see how you’d be stressed just from the lack of running, or feeling heavy/stiff legs. Hope you can manage a run or two before your race.

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