How long away from running before loosing fitness?

Does anyone know how long I can have not running before I loose fitness and have a big set back?

I've been having some pain in my knees, just at the front and below the knee cap, especially on my left leg. Coming downstairs just now hurt. My last run was Monday.

I'm thinking of taking some time off to let them heal as I don't want to make them worse but at the same time I'm worried that if I take a week or two off then when I try to run again I'll struggle and then have weeks of re building back to where I am now. Similarly I'm worried if I don't rest them, of having an injury and having to take longer away.

I graduated in October so have been running 30 mins for a couple of months now. I'm not sure if the niggle with my knee is just that or a warning that something worse could come. I've had this niggle for a couple of weeks now. I don't have pain when I run it's just later and only now and again like when I come down stairs or twist in a certain way.

If you have been injured how long did you take off before going back and how was it when you started again?

Thanks in advance ;-)

13 Replies

  • A couple of weeks won't set you back too much, but it might be sensible to talk to your physio or GP.

    Hope it feels better soon.

  • Definitely a couple of weeks is ok in terms of fitness. I took 3 weeks off for shin splints and came back steadily, giving myself an easier week to get back into it, but a week later was getting pbs so I can't have lost much fitness!

    If it does worry you, trying to replace running with some cross-training like swimming or cycling (if it doesn't hurt your knee) so you can still get some aerobic exercise while letting your knees heal?

  • Also, having had shin splints, it is ALWAYS better to be cautious and give yourself time to heal than push through because 'it's not that bad at the moment'- not that I can say I always took my own advice.. It can be really hard to stop when you don't want to lose your habit

  • I had a knee problem before I did C25k so I've always been very cautious. The symptoms sound very similar to yours - fine when running but slopes / hills or stairs are the sign. I did the NHS knee strengthening exercises (on the C25k home page) and they really did build robustness! Now I only get niggles if I push my distance / pace a bit too hard but some RICE and an easier run or two and I'm symptom free again.

    Good luck ☺

  • Take the time off now or you might be missing lots of runs due to injury. You shouldn't lose too much fitness, and even if you have to build back up it's not so bad.

  • I had a very similar sounding problem at the beginning of October. I carried on running with it so I could complete a 10k I wanted to do at the end of October. Big mistake. I have now been on the IC for 5 weeks !!!and have been told I 'may' be able to try running again the new year. I have been cycling like mad in the gym, swimming and doing my Physio exercises but can still feel my fitness slipping away. Stop now before you make your knee too bad. Better a week or two now than months off in the future!

  • I've been hit and miss for over 3 weeks due to a cough/ cold/ torrential rain/ sick kids/ sick husband/ sleepless nights... Started again last Monday and really struggled so mid run I went back to run a minute, walk a minute. When I went out this week I was back to (roughly) where I was before I had a break. Incidentally ALL of my aches and pains that had built up due to running have disappeared so much so that I haven't been wearing my knee support (which had ended up being compulsory on a run!).

  • I had to stop last April due to an op. I had previously reached week 6 run 3 I think. I had to have three or four weeks without running. After this what I did was to start again with week 1 one day, week 2 for next run..... then carried on week 5 run 1 and so on to week 9 run 3. It was only a short delay.

    Six weeks ago I had a couple of biopsies and could not run for a week, then did just 25 or 30 minutes runs, as my chest was painful, then slowly and steadily moved on to 5k run laughing all the way.

    See how you go but I am sure the rhythm of running is never lost.

  • I had over 3 months off due to various reasons and went for a run last week - managed to run for 30 minutes non stop and managed to cover my usual 4 km in 40 min (10 min of walking and 30 min of running). I was surprised it hasn't gone downhill after such a long time not running. However, I am still not better after graduating over a year ago - still nowhere near 5km in 30 min, but hey ho - at least I am doing something rather than sit on the sofa like the previous 42 years of my life :D

  • I had ankle problems back in march. I had been running 10km every other day, with a longer 14km run at the weekend. Then my right ankle started to feel ouchy at the front, and I limited myself to running once a week, and stopping the run as soon as I felt any discomfort in the ankle. This meant I was doing about 4km per week for about 3 months.

    The experience was really fascinating for me. The first thing I noticed was that my maximum speed, or maximum distance was not hampered at all by the time off. In fact, when I tried to get back to regular running in july, I put in a personal best for 5km, and a new maximum distance of 18km. Great I thought, my fitness has not been affected at all :) Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. What I then discovered was that, although I could happily put in a quick 5km, or a nice long 18km run, I was then pretty much incapable of running for the rest of the week. It seems that a better measure of fitness is the overall weekly distance. Prior to march, I was clocking up 45km per week, during the summer, I was nowhere near that, and when I tried to push up the weekly distance, then I'd be back on the injury couch again for a few days.

    I'm still not back up to 45km per week, or even close to it. My 5km times are creeping back to where they were, and I'm back to running 2 x 5km plus a 11km weekend run each week. My intention is to gradually lengthen the weekend run month on month until I can get back to my old weekly distances.

    So I think that your fitness in terms of maximum speed and distance does not drop off too quickly during time off through injury. However, the stamina and base fitness that lets you put in regular longish runs during a full week, that seems to drop off fairly quickly, and takes a while to build back up again.

    What others have said about resting an injury is so important though. Failing to rst the injury will result in a worse injury, that will take longer to heal, and so more time on the injury couch to recover from.

    If I have to go through it all again, then I'll definately look for alternative exercise that I can do while not running to try to keep that stamina from falling away too much :)

  • Funny you should say that! I went for another run today and I struggled! It was easier last week after a break of almost 4 months than this week! And I noticed every time I have a long break, it's the same!

  • Thank you all for your valuable comments.

    Today my knee is hurting slightly more than yesterday and I am going to take your advice and rest it for a while. I have decided you are all right and I really don't want to do myself any injury or lasting damage. I have decided to take Christmas off. I'm going to enjoy the holidays and being with my children and family. In the new year I'll get back to it and build back up slowly, I was thinking of doing wk5 to build to a 20 min run then build up by 5 mins as and when till I'm back to speed. Hopefully the time off will settle my knee down and I can come back stronger and determined. Just got to make sure I keep away from all those christmas choccy's and mince pies lol ;-)

    Have a fantastic Christmas everyone x

  • Chocolates for energy !! Ah, no, I've discovered it's more like chocolate for Kgs :(

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