How much will I lose and how long to get it back?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Another recovery post? The last one…unless I get more questions.

I’ve noticed a few questions creeping up over the last two weeks that generally revolve around the general question of how much fitness will be lost in this month-long recovery phase and how long will it take to get that fitness back.

Those are great questions and the concern of losing fitness and needing a lot of time to get it back is the biggest stumbling block I see people struggling with when considering or trying to convince themselves to give themselves this time off. It’s surely my biggest stumbling block when I finish a racing season still feeling good and feeling fired up to go after next year’s goals.

So how much will you lose? It’s hard to quantify what you will lose but it’s obvious you will lose something. In my opinion, though, this is the wrong question so I’m not going to go into all kinds of technical details when they won’t answer what really matters.

Instead, we should be asking ourselves how long it will take to get that fitness back and what the alternative is. If you take a month completely off or do minimal running, whatever that means for you, with no thought of training, how long until you can return to a normal workload at similar paces? What happens if you don’t take that month off?

It’s been my experience that, after a month of minimal running, a runner can expect to be carrying a normal workload within 1-2 months.

So does this mean you’re setting yourself back by 2-3 months by taking a month down? Well, keep in mind some of the repercussions of not taking that down time. Stagnation, injury, burnout, lack of motivation. You may be ahead 2-3 months from now if you don’t take that down time. However, when are the races that really matter? 6 months from now? 12 months from now? With renewed motivation and a rejuvenated body, you’ll be far ahead by that time after taking some time down now.

Yes, you will definitely lose some fitness if you take some down time now. However, you will end up with some down time sooner or later. If you take it now, you will be back to your normal self within 2-3 months and ready to push toward new levels. If you don’t, you will almost surely be forced by illness, injury or lack of motivation to take it at a time when you have less time to recover your fitness and push forward.

It’s your choice: now or later.

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