Thursday, October 17, 2013

Losing Fitness Gains

Day 10 of my upper respiratory infection. Is it over yet?

I am happy to say that I am feeling much, much better! I am still coughing, but not as much. I actually had a different issue today, which was a pinched nerve in my back. I couldn't lift my head this morning when I woke up. I literally had to hold my head with both hands and pick it up as I sat up this morning. I took a lot of pain reliever throughout the day, which helped me function. While it's still painful, I have most of the function back in my neck. Just another obstacle to overcome this week!

I am SO looking forward to getting back in to my running routine. The sooner, the better! I haven't gone for a run since last Monday. If my back and chest are feeling better tomorrow, I am definitely going to break my non-running streak and get it done!

Since it's been 10 days since my last run, I am getting a little antsy about how I am going to perform. Running was getting easier for me before I got sick. I am hoping that I haven't lost everything I worked so hard for.

I actually read a little about this topic today in an article found at

"In athletes who are relatively new to training (about one year or less), research indicates that after not training for two months they essentially lose all of the fitness gains. The results are quite different for well-conditioned, long-term athletes. Veteran athletes, referring to athletes that have been training regularly for several years, lose about 50% of their fitness when they cease training for the same period of time, two to three months. Quite a significant difference!

The good news is that our fitness is dynamic and constantly changing; the bad news is that our fitness is dynamic and constantly changing. It's significant to note that the newbie exerciser also makes dramatic cardiovascular improvements in eight weeks.

According to the research then, since you have been training regularly for over one year, at least some of your fitness is still there. However, forcing a run is never beneficial so start with a one mile run three times a week using walk breaks as needed to complete the workout. This will help you gradually re-condition your cardio-respiratory system as well as your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. Running three days a week will allow time for recovery between workouts. Increase your runs in 5-minute increments each time you run. When you reach 45 minutes, or roughly the equivalent of 3 miles, three times a week, maintain this for level for two weeks. If you are not experiencing any fatigue, aches, or pains, you can then begin training for distance. Designate one day a week as your long run day and add on half-mile increments each week until you hit 6 miles. Once you reach the 6 mile mark, begin alternating long run weekends to every other week or every two weeks and continue building to your targeted distance.
Goal setting and disappointment is another issue. After months of training for a goal race, it can be difficult for many runners to return to training when they didn't achieve the desired outcome. Post-race recovery should be a time for reflection. Look back at your training plan for areas you could improve upon. Examine what went wrong with the race and, more importantly, what went right.
Accepting the disappointment can be much easier if you resist putting all your eggs in one basket; always have a back-up plan. Registering for subsequent races that are just a few weeks apart is one way to give yourself a back-up plan if you don't attain your goal immediately.
In distance running, there are many, many elements that must come together on race day to achieve your goals—which is part of the allure of the sport for some people. There are some things, like the weather, that we have no control over. If, in another race, you reach the half-way point of the race and realize you are off pace and there is no way to make up the time, just back off the pace, relax, and enjoy the remainder of the race. Don't beat yourself up physically or mentally trying to achieve an unattainable goal at this point. By running the remainder of the race easy, you have already begun your recovery process. You will be ready to turn your attention to your next race or next goal as soon as you cross the finish line.
Fitness is a lifetime journey, so rather than cease running totally; cycle your training. Change it up from time to time by running two days a week, targeting a different distance, incorporating cross-training, adding strength training, or tackling a triathlon. Changes in training can help keep things interesting and give you different goals to strive toward, all while maintaining your hard-earned foundation of fitness.
And that beats starting over from scratch."

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