We all struggle with it. Just caught a cold, had an ankle sprain or simply had a busy work season, and you feel like you’re way behind on your training. But there’s no reason to start panicking just yet. Let’s do a rundown of what it means to lose fitness and when it should become a concern.
Why detraining happens
‘Use it or lose it’ is a common catchphrase that perfectly encapsulates this point. If you stop those regular runs and weightlifting, you’d eventually lose your aerobic capacity and strength gains when you stop working them. That’s the principle of training reversibility. Sometimes, it might even occur at a shorter duration than it took for you to gain it.
When detraining happens
Your VO2 max – which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can effectively transport and use, starts to decline after 10 days of detraining. The most dramatic reduction in fitness is within the 10 to 28 days window of inactivity. That would take you about 2 to 8 weeks of training to get back to pre-detraining fitness levels. Learn how to get back on track safely! For the initial 7 to 10 days of no training, you’d lose from muscle endurance and coordination, but the decline is not significant. You can bounce back in no time. (Source)
How to prevent detraining
We’re not saying that taking a break from running is utterly uncalled for. We’re all for taking breaks, cross-training and listening to what your body needs (even elites go back to basics). And if you happen to need a break from running, there are always great alternatives you can go for.
#1 Go at slower speeds and shorter distances but maintain the frequency of training
#2 Maintain your intensity but reduce the frequency
#3 Use the elliptical trainer or do Aqua running instead
Active recovery (Pilates is an example) are for any of us who want to maintain our fitness levels during downtime. After all, running is a lifestyle. Take care of yourself and focus on the going further for longer instead of going faster for tomorrow.