7 weeks off running, what is the likely effect?

I'm a regular runner 20-30 miles a week. Training runs usually aroun 8-8:30 mins per mile, 5k 20:40 and half marathon sub 1:40 as a rule. I have 7 weeks out of the country coming up and will be in unusual places, if I manage to get any running in it will be an hour here or there, no structure and it's possible I won't get any opertunity at all. I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience of a break in training like his and how it effected fitness.


  • it will probably do you some good and invigorate your running when you get back.  you'll lose less fitness than you think as you will carry muscle memory.  if you can tick over while you're way then that will help but don't sweat it.  many if us have longer out with injury but if the base is good, it comes back readily.

  • That's good to know, I've got nothing too ambitious planned over the winter months but planned to do a few XC's and trail runs and general base building training with a view to training specifically for a couple of target 10k's in early spring and go for a PB at Southend 1/2 in June. I'll run other races but only really as part of training and for the day out, not as target races.

    As a rough estimate how long after the 7 weeks should it take to get back to present level?
  • We're all different, and it depends on age and various other factors, but in my experience it takes as long as the time out to regain *most* of the fitness lost and as much again to get back that final 10 per cent or so.

    If I were out of it for 7 weeks I'd resume with the first week or so just gently easing myself in then take it from there. But you probably don't need me to tell you not to overcook it when you start over ...

    In fact, taking a month or two off once in a while is no bad thing.

  • about 2 weeks....but depends on how much lack of exercise, boozing and eating you do in those 7 weeks!!  if you manage to stay exercised and stop putting the pounds on, then it won't be long

  • Whereas my answer assumes you do nothing during the 7 weeks ... image

  • I'll ease back in with a few runs of 45 mins to 1h and just see how it feels. If that's not too much of a struggle I'll introduce a longer weekend run or 1:15-1:30 and build on that. when that gets easy I can start to chuck in some intervals and tempo's.

    An interesting difference of opinion from 2 weeks to 14 weeks between you two. either way I should be fine to get round a few XC's in the early new year and still enjoy myself and be on track for new PB's by March April time which is fine.

    Hopefully the break will rid me of a couple of little niggles I have been carrying for a while and on return I can build up a bit slower than I have this time and with a little luck not suffer any troubles.

  • i'd suggest any cardio work you can do at all during the 7 week running hiatus will help slow down the fitness decline and put you in a better position when you return. i you can't run, perhaps swim, hike, cycle, even a brisk walk regularly. Your cardio fitness will likely be the quickest to decline, but the quickest to regain too. You're unlikely to suffer major reverses in your muscle development during this time.

    the fewer pies and pints you can swallow, the better image

  • Muttley, you posted your second post while I was posting mine. I'll probably be somewhere in between the two, I don't expect to gain weight and the trip won't be too boozy, I'll be in Asia so with the humidity and diet being pretty low in fat weight might well come down. Excersise opertunity might be a bit more limited.

    Last year spent a few weeks in the Andies and came back fitter I think due to the altitude but I was only running about 10-15 miles a week back then if that.

    Recently I have really felt like my running is reaching a new level clocking over 100 miles a month the last couple of months and an 8th place in a local 10k trail run, I just hope the momentum isn't lost.
  • When you get back, you'll probably be about the same level as I am now.... 

  • In terms of your ability to go out and run, you should see hardly any difference at all. You will lose a little speed and conditioning, but your base fitness level won't fall that much, and some of the loss will be offset by a decent rest and recovery.

    If you were in the middle of a very structured programme, say building up to a marathon, then you would have to be more careful coming back in. Often quoted advice is to start back behind where you left off, and then take the same amount of time as you had off to get back on track with the programme. In your case I'd say come back and have a week of 3 or 4 steady runs of normal distances, and then gradually incorporate anyspeed sessions in the following weeks. 

  • AgentGinger,

    Good tip, I will keep an eye on what I eat and take every opertunity to hire a bike or hike hard. I did a lot of hiking in the mountains last year, every time you go anywhere it's an effort at over 3,000 meters.

    No mountin this year but Asia is full of bikes and hikes and beach volley ball and lots of chances to stay active generally. I'll just have to take every chance to keep active, one of the best things about having a good level of fitness, you can enjoy physical activities much more
  • Claret,

    No structured program to worry about at the moment, I've known I've been going for a while so have just stuck to various sessions each week and a couple of trail races just for fun. Had a little push for distance a few weeks ago with Dunstable Downs 20 mile in mind but got ill and couldn't run it anyway.

    Just picked up the last 2 weeks of a fast 5k plan the other day to try and pb my local park run the day before I go as I have been trying to. Sub 20 for ages and would love to crack it before I go.

    Really reassured by all the responses, even the worst prediction I can definatly live with. As long as I can go out and pick up as I stated above I'll be happy.
  • A data point: every spring I get up to marathon form at about WAVA 67% level ie reasonably good club but not county level. Then I have four weeks summer holiday, three of which i hike typically 15 miles a day average. If I do no running on top of the hiking, or even only a bit, I find a lot of the form has gone and it's very frustrating getting back up to speed. It takes at least two weeks to get most of the way there and say a month until I feel happyish. It'

    Having said that, I tend to set mara pbs in the second half of the year, after coming back in form for 6 weeks or more. So the "rest" and change of activity could be seen as a way of double-peaking for the year. Plus the fitness of your bones, joints and sinews takes a lot longer to decay than aerobic fitness and muscles.

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