How Quickly Do You Lose Running Fitness?

Hi, I graduated nearly 4 weeks ago, but haven't run since. I tried yesterday/today, and after 5 minute warm-up, 5 minutes running at previous pace (1km in 5 minutes), seemed enough! Does stamina go so quickly? This article quotes "after 12 days, levels of enzymes in the blood associated with endurance performance had decreased by 50%" from published work (for already fit runners). If this is the case, how far back in the couch to 5 k programme do you suggest I go to regain original fitness. Week 5 started with 5 minutes of running, so perhaps I need to go back to that stage? I guess it's not going to do any harm!


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9 Replies

  • Hi Backtorunning, I read the article and it says the cyclists retained 40% of their fitness after 9 weeks.  I'm really wondering if you should slow it down a bit, I run approx 7km/hr but I'm not sure how this compares as I'm not sure of your age, gender etc.  I would maybe pick the long distances in previous c25K sessions and see how it goes.


  • At 5 min/km, I'm not surprised! That's very fast. Try S L O W I N G  D O W N :-)

    Try 6, 6.5 or 7 minutes per kilometre and you'll be fine.

  • 5 minutes per km seems VERY fast to me, so I'd agree: SLOW DOWN!

    If you want to just give it another go and deliberately slow down, make sure you can talk when you're running. That way, you're unlikely to be going too fast.

    If you want some structure, go there's no harm in going back to something you'd feel comfortable with, like W5. Perhaps do all of those and W6, then do one of W7 and if you feel OK do one W8, and again if you feel OK, do W9.

    I think the beat on Laura's music is designed to get your feet moving at what would work out to be a reasonable pace.

    I missed a few months and went back to W5 and was doing fine, got back to W8 (doing all the podcasts), but then stopped again for about 6 weeks for various reasons but went out this past week and did one W8 and then W9 on my next run and I was fine.

  • I am coming back after injury and I find that the pace I can easily maintain is about 45 seconds per kilometre slower than that which I would have expected before and well over 90 seconds short of my 5k PB pace. I have three years running under my belt and just started back with shorter runs, but as I say, accepting a much reduced pace. I hope that in a month's time I will be back at my natural normal pace. However I expect several months will pass before I get anywhere near my PB time.

    Slow and steady getting back up to speed has to be the best way.

  • For me - about a day!

    No, seriously, you don't need to go back at all. You earned graduation through blood, sweat, blisters, tears and coughing up lungs (or maybe that was just me?).

    Remember that this is 20% physical and 80% mental (just made that up) - ok, so maybe you have lost a bit of physical fitness (which I am not sure you have) but you have definitely lost some mental fitness, hence the self doubt - which is absolutely understandable.

    My advice, as a seasoned and experienced runner (of a grand total of 4 months :-)) is to look in a mirror, tell yourself 'I AM A GRADUATE RUNNER. I CAN RUN 30 MINUTES!'. Once you have done that, tell yourself 'SLOW DOWN'. That last part, you probably want to get your partner to write it in indelible ink on your forehead as a reminder every time you look in the mirror.

    Seriously, you will be fine and you can do it, because you already have done it.

    I would go and do a run, but really really slowly. If you don't think you will manage that then do a run for 10 minutes as slow as you can. If you need to (which I suspect you won't) then allow yourself 30 seconds of walking/breathing/recovery and then do another 10 minutes, 30 second walk if you need to and then finish with the last 10 minutes. In other words, you are doing a 30 minute run, you haven't gone backwards, but for the net couple of runs you are going easy on yourself.

    I read a great study (can't find the link now) which said you achieve slightly less than you plan. If you aim for a 30 minute run you will be ready to stop after 30. Had you aimed for a 20 minute run you would have been ready to stop after 20 and so on. If you go back to week 5 then you will find it hard. If you go and do a 30 minute run now, you will find it hard and so on.

    Ultimately, you are moving, which is the brilliant, everything else is secondary really, but don't make the mistake of forgetting how hard these runs were - rose coloured glasses just feed the self doubt!

    Go on, you can do it - you will be great!

  • You don't lose fitness that fast. I've had a two week break on more than 1 occasion and got back into it straight away. As others have said you might have to slow down, but you should still be able to do 30 minutes. My PB is quite a bit slower than your usual running speed!!

  • Sounds like you are running very fast. If you slow it down for now you might find you can sustain a longer run. Starting at week 5 sounds like a good plan. I'm sure you'll get it back sooner than you fear.

  • To be safe than sorry, I've gone back to the beginning and did week 1, two days ago and week 2 today - no problem at all (and much easier than first time round). I think I'll carry on like this until I find my level and then complete the remainder of the course and do each of the three runs per week. You're probably right, and part of it is mental - it's easy to lose confidence and I guess doing some running is part of getting it back!

  • Just wondering whether you managed to get back into it?

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