Work was busy, you weren’t feeling well, life just got in the way. It happens.

What’s the effect of missing a run?

Apart from missing out on valuable Corporate Cup points for yourself and your team there are some physiological effects when you “detrain”.

Just as training describes the process of a regular program of exercise, detraining describes not training.

As you know when you exercise regularly (training), you get fitter and faster. Your body adapts over a period of time to the increased demands placed on it by regular or vigorous exercise. When you exercise regularly you’ll find it’s easier to run or walk for longer without getting out of breath. Your legs won’t fatigue as quickly or be sore for as long afterwards. These are some of the positive signs of regular exercise – or training.

When you stop exercising, the gains you made through regular exercise start to slip away as you become detrained. How quickly this happens does vary from person to person.

When you’re new to exercise you can make big gains to your fitness pretty quickly. But if you stop exercising those gains will also slip away pretty quickly.

For someone who is already pretty fit and exercises regularly it’s hard for them to make big gains in their fitness, but because they have a bigger base of fitness detraining will occur much more slowly when they stop exercising.

What are the effects of stopping exercising?

The one you’ll probably notice the quickest is that you’ll get out of breath and become fatigued more quickly. Physiologically your body becomes less efficient in processing oxygen and producing energy as you become less fit. Over a longer period of detraining your muscles will structurally change. It’s the old “use it or lose it”. Muscles no longer required to work hard will shrink back to meet the reduced demands placed on them. Firmed and toned can become slack and loose.

How quickly does detraining occur?

While detraining starts the very moment you stop training it takes the body a while to start to make any changes. It’s generally thought that a week to 10 days without exercise isn’t too detrimental, though as already mentioned that depends somewhat on how fit you are in the first place. 14-21 days and above with no training is where the changes start to become noticeable. When you get all the way out to 8 weeks significant changes have occurred and you’ll have a long road back to recover full fitness.

How do you get back to fitness?

The good news is that getting back fitness you had isn’t as hard a journey as it was to get it in the first place. It just seems that way.

Don’t try to pick up where you left off or try to make up for lost time. If you do that you’ll make it feel really hard and you’ll risk injury.
The best way to get back to fitness is to get back out there and do something. Anything. Start small, start slow and build back your fitness gradually over a period of days or weeks. Progress and increase your exercise at a rate that allows your body to adapt to the increasing loads you’re placing on it.

If you do miss a week it’s not the end of the world. Your fitness won’t disappear altogether; you won’t lose too much fitness before the next run.

But if you have to miss a Corporate Cup event, get together with friends or colleagues and go out for a walk or a run at other times or on other days.

Try to fit regular exercise into your life every week and throughout the year, and you’ll become fitter, healthier and have more energy to help you enjoy life.