Back to the start again.

Huffing...Puffing..breathing and legs felt heavy..what the hell has happened to me.

These words only describe partly as to how I felt after going out on my first run in almost 6 long weeks of no running.

It all stems back to when I decided to spend more time in the gym and zero time running as I had pretty much lost all desire to run..I knew at the time out at the time it was the right decision to pull away from running but upon reflection I have been away to long from something that I had for the last 5 years to my daily living.

So..I decided last week that it was time to come back..the first question how much fitness had I lost and how long will it take to get it back. I had put on 8 pounds of weight (although much stronger as I have been doing 3-4 strength training sessions).

I chose a running loop around the country park that I generally run with a 141-151 avg Heart Rate with an average pace of 8:25 min/miles (based on previous runs). The same loop results were quite shocking..average HR was 148 and average pace of 9:26 min/miles!!! and boy did I feel it.

Having read several sources on the web regarding the effect several weeks has on aerobic capacity I found a great resource that laid bare some of the answers I wanted

The interesting points I pulled from this are:

  • The bad news is that declines in fitness appear fairly rapidly: In less than two weeks, there are measurable declines in fitness, and enzyme levels associated with performance have dropped by half.
  • While the study did not detect any statistically significant change in VO2 max, the subjects’ ability to cycle at 75% of VO2 max dropped from about 80min to just over 60min—a 20% decrease.
    This is more relevant to runners in training, as it’s a closer approximation to race fitness. It appeared that peripheral factors in the muscles, like calcium and magnesium concentrations and muscle glycogen storage, affected the body’s ability to exercise more than the core cardiovascular “engine.” Nevertheless, a 20% change in a ride to exhaustion is fairly significant, so the effects of a month off from training are substantial.
However it's not all doom and gloom:

  • The results from Ready and Quinnely also suggest that it won’t take nearly as long to get back to your initial fitness. Remember that over nine weeks of training, the subjects in that study increased their anaerobic threshold by 70%, but after nine weeks of inactivity, they had retained 40% of the initial increase. It’s reasonable to expect it wouldn’t take them another nine weeks to claw their way back to their peak fitness level.So if you are taking some time away from running, realize that you will lose a significant portion of your fitness, and you will lose it fairly quickly, but your losses will taper off after several weeks, and you retain a portion of your starting shape for a long, long time.
Of course we are all individuals so I cannot take everything here to my personal situation however I am not panicked nor worried about the time off as much I was midweek. The fun part will be the journey back to fitness and making sure I learn to recover properly after all that what building base is all about.

So the goals are:

  1. Rebuild up my running base over the next 10-12 weeks (Lydiard fashion). 
  2. Focus on consistency, frequency and running based on feel i.e. adding in some fartlek when feeling good. 
  3. Have fun along the way.

Couldn't be simpler could it?


  1. I never had to come back after a long time off as I have never ever lost my appetite for running, but I was knocked out for about 5 weeks when I contracted pneumonia several years ago.

    The first week back was pretty bad, but I built up my fitness so quickly that I managed to run an ultra only 2 months later and a new marathon PB 2 months after that.

  2. Just checked out your old post on this Thomas and I have to say that was a pretty spectacular comeback so quickly after a serious lung infection..bravo.

    All about being patient and determined to keep plugging away the miles so that eventually the body will start to adapt and move forward.


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