Effects of De-Training

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Don't forget to wear your bib!

Don’t forget to wear your bib!

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…anyway, onto the actual blog for today.

Because more people than ever are participating in endurance sports, more people than ever are getting sidelined by injury. This is just the natural progression of things, but what does it mean for your training? How long can you be out before your really start to “lose” it?

Being out sucks. Trust me, I know. Hospital gowns are not nearly as comfy as running clothes. They're kinda scratchy.

Being out sucks. Trust me, I know. Hospital gowns are not nearly as comfy as running clothes. They’re kinda scratchy.

Here’s the science:

  • 7 highly trained runners or cyclists who trained for 10-12 months, at least 5 days/week for 60 minutes daily at 70-80% of VO2 max were studied. 57 sedentary individuals served as the control group.
  • Except for exercise during testing scenarios, walking was limited to < 500m daily at a slow pace and all other physical activity was limited.
  • After 12 days VO2 max (anaerobic capacity) decreased by 7%, by day 84 VO2 max was down by 16%.
  • Max heart rate increased by 5% (aerobic-means your heart works harder to do the same activity) and then leveled out by day 84.
  • Cardiac output and stroke volume declined immediately and had decreased by at least 5% by day 12.


Coyle EF, et al. Time course of loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense enduracne training. J Appl Physiol 1984;57:1857.

What does this mean?

There is an immediate decrease in your conditioning after 12 days off from training, approximately 5% or more in your heart’s ability to efficiently pump blood. 5% isn’t terrible and won’t kill you, but you’ll feel it.

And you’ll really feel it after 84 days at 16% when you can’t get going.

Your anaerobic goes first, followed by your aerobic which absolutely TANKS after 3 weeks. I mean TANKS.

photo (7)

Image property of: Coyle EF, et al. Time course of loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense enduracne training. J Appl Physiol 1984;57:1857.

Conclusion: 12 days is where the most marked changes happen, but it’s a steady decline after that into the depths of de-training.

This effect will be amplified by sickness, anesthesia, damage to the body systems (pulmonary, cardiovascular, etc.), disease, and lack of training to begin with. So, if you’re sick or have some kind of immunological disease, these effects would be more dramatic and over a shorter period of time.

Getting out of the hospital is a big step. No one runs out of the hospital and does 16 miles. No one.

Getting out of the hospital is a big step. No one runs out of the hospital and does 16 miles. No one.

I hope this helps some of you when you’re curious about the how long it takes a well-trained athlete to de-train and by how much.

Don’t stress over it, though. Your body needs whatever time it needs to heal and that’s the most important aspect of training: healing.

Now go out and run!

What It’s Like

Thank you, thank you, thank you all who have sent well-wishes to me as I continue to recover from surgery. I kinda think I’m out of the recovery stage and into the comeback stage at this point. The answer to the “How are you feeling?” question is always the same, “Good!”

Two thumbs up, ya’ll! Totally ready to run.

Really. I’m good. I’m back. I’m just slow.

Yesterday I ran to Central Park with my lululemon Run Club buddies to coach during what was probably the one of the hottest nights in New York City in a long time. Well, since last summer.

It was brutal. Not for me, for them.

I am the CHAMPION!!!! The champion with flabby arms. Ugh.

Running is different for me now. I don’t know, nor do I care, what my pace is. I wear capris even though it’s 90°. I have to focus so much more on what I’m feeling than ever before.

Things move and flex differently. My new gear gets a little funky every now and then and I want to stop and see if I can adjust it. I know full well I cannot, there’s nothing to do, and if it’s really that big of a nuisance I should just stop.

It has not yet come to that.

But everything feels different.

I breathe heavier. I have more physical distractions. One mile seems like forever. My legs can’t push as hard or as fast. My abdominals are trying their best to do what they know they should, despite the new restrictions. My back suddenly has a lot of work to do. My arms are more tired.

But in my head, I am happy as a clam. Because, although everything feels different and is harder and wears me down faster and doesn’t do exactly what it used to, I can still run. And I will get better, faster, stronger. Today’s run is just today. I will go farther tomorrow or next week. I will be faster next month. Those feelings will change and my body will adapt. That’s just what the body does, it adapts. Slowly, painfully adapts.

And slowly, hopefully not too painfully, I will be back into running shape.

Running shape…like Kara Goucher. Ok, maybe not exactly like Kara, but maybe my best version. Who am I kidding? I’m just hoping to get some definition back to my body AT ALL.

That’s what it’s like for me these days. What about you? How does it feel for you to run today? I imagine the general consensus will be “HOT” but what else do you feel? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

Pool Workout For {Injured} Runners

So many of my running friends are experiencing overuse injuries right now. Boo! What the heck? While I don’t want to speculate as to why this is happening, I DO want to help. So, you’re injured. You can’t run. You can’t speed walk. You can’t cycle (maybe). And you are GOING CRAZY BECAUSE YOU CAN’T RUN.


With most injuries, swimming is still an option. Well, an option so long as you have a pool to swim in. That is sort of hard to come by in NYC unless you shell out a million dollars for Asphalt Green or don’t mind a 25 meter pool everywhere else. So, assuming you have a pool, here is your workout. I don’t really specify your stroke because I do freestyle exclusively, but far be it from me to deny you the butterfly if you can bring it. The whole point is exertion, not stroke. Bring your swim cap and goggles.

Not appropriate swim workout wear. Also, I need a beach vacation, like, yesterday.

  • 10 min warm up, easy
  • 100 meter 80% max speed x 4 (full recovery in between)
  • 10 min easy swim
  • 10 lengths (in a 25 meter pool, 4-6 in a 50 meter pool) of one length all out fast, one length slow recovery–NO STOPPING IN BETWEEN
  • 10 min easy swim

Swimming is a great way to get a true cardiovascular workout in while giving your legs a little bit of a rest from the pounding. I swam a lot when my gluteus medius was learning how to pull its own weight. These workouts made it sooooo much easier for me to get back into running because I lost no cardiovascular fitness in the process. Plus, swimming is crazy hard and a killer workout.

A good rule of thumb is to swim for as long as you would have run and at the same intensity with the same intervals. That way, you’re rocking out for the same duration and reaping all the cardiovascular benefits you can.

We know why I don’t do it often. My hair. I dye my hair and cannot, in good financial conscience, subject my freshly dyed locks to chlorine. Hair Goddess would never speak to me again.

Pretty hair > swim workout (unless I am injured). Priorities.

If you’re injured, chin up! You’re not out of the game entirely! Jump into the pool and kick your own butt froggy-style.

Now go out and run (or swim).

Post-Long Run Recovery

Runners talk a lot about running long runs and races and all that jazz, but I hear very little about what happens after you stop running. Most professional athletes are taught to respect the recovery as much as the run, and so should you! Recovery is where the growth takes place and without growth there will be no progress.

If I’m honest, the first thing I do after a long run is go to the corner store next to our apartment and get drinks and whatever food sounds good. Sometimes it’s watermelon, sometimes it’s pita chips. Because I sweat more than the average bear (it’s true: in yoga class the other day I was the only girl who looked like it was raining down on her; true story), I tend to crave salty items pretty much immediately. I don’t judge after a long run. And also, the Diet Lemonade Ice Tea from Snapple has been calling my name recently.

The perfect lunch. I had a sandwich, too, but it didn't make it to the photo shoot...

Most people jump into the shower first. Not me. Reason? Well, I am sensitive to dips in my blood sugar and once my body realizes I’ve stopped running and my sympathetic nervous system chills out, my parasympathetic nervous system takes over and the first thing it does is totally freak out because I haven’t eaten in a very long time. How do I know this? Oh, I do this very lovely little thing where I get very dizzy and nauseous and it usually ends with my gorgeous husband shoving some carbohydrates down my throat so that I don’t pass out. Very sexy indeed. So, I’ve learned my lesson. Food first.

The very simplest rule of thumb for post-endurance activities is eat whatever you can tolerate first, since your stomach is probably not the most inviting place on Earth. Second, eat protein within about a half an hour to get those amino acids flowing to your muscles for rebuilding. You see, in order to achieve optimal (and speedy) recovery time, your body needs protein right away. Not so appealing, I know, but very necessary.

I’ve recently found that because the temperatures are so high at the end of my long runs, I am desperate for a slushy immediately after I stop. I mean within seconds. So, I’ve tried a slightly (I mean, ever so slightly) healthier version in navigating the end of my runs so that I am nearby a Jamba Juice. You health nuttys out there are going to tell me there’s sugar in those drinks. I know. That’s what I’m going for! I need a little pop of sugar and something that easily digests in my stomach to boost my blood sugar levels and get me home. It helps that it’s sweet and cold, too!


I keep hard-boiled eggs in my fridge and having been loving egg salad (2 eggs, please) on a piece of whole grain bread lately. It’s a perfect combination of basic carbohydrates and pure protein to fuel my post-long run body. Along with Cedar’s amazing Fresh Bruschetta with Stacy’s Simply Salt pita chips and some cantaloupe, I have covered all my basics. Now onto the shower.

Oh, wait. No. Cold water bath first. I know, so totally not appealing at all, but necessary to prevent excess inflammation, edema and speeding recovery of those beat-up muscles. I do a cold water bath instead of an ice bath because, well, my freezer is small and I have very little ice in there. Whatever. Cold water bath is better than nothing. I save the ice water baths (with ice!) for post-marathons. I know to some (ahem, JB) it may seem grotesque to not shower immediately upon arriving home after a very sweaty, very hot long run, but I know my body and my body needs food first.

Bottom line, you need food after your run. Sorry if you’re one of those sour stomach people after you work out, but you reeeeeally should consider eating anything you can scarf down. It’ll help your recovery and keep you from getting the dizzies later. Protein, carbs and some fruits and veggies if you can! Get it all in there! Rehydrate all day long, not just immediately after, to make sure you aren’t depleting your body further of its most precious reserve. Well, most precious aside from oxygen, I suppose. I digress. Ice bath if you can take it, cold water bath if you can’t (or if you have no ice). Trust me. 15 minutes. It helps.

After that, feel free to take a little snooze! I tend to curl up on the couch next to JB and fall dead asleep if it’s more than 12 miles. But, the most important thing is to be sure to get up at some point in the day and take a little walk. Muscles soreness can be more severe if the blood supply to them is low, ie. you are a couch potato all day. So, grab your dog or your friend and take a stroll. I like to head uptown to 16 Handles, which is about two miles from our apartment, but that’s just me. I love a reward!

Whatever you do, listen to your body and treat it with love and respect. After all, it just took you on a long run. The least you can do is listen now!

Now go out and run! Or, if you already ran, take a walk 😉