Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reversibility: Runners, Don't Let It Happen to You

We admit it. The holidays are crazy. Many businesses shut down the week between Christmas and New Year's. That doesn't stop the work - it just means you have to get it done before Christmas Eve! Not to mention all the different holiday parties - on top of that, adding a boyfriend or a husband's friend's parties, and later in life, all of your children's activities. Add fighting the traffic at the mall (and on the way to the mall), spending money that you don't have, and baking cookies for the church play...we get it. It's busy.
So many runners allow themselves to be overwhelmed, and they stop their training schedule in early December. They just think, "Oh, I'll get back to it when the holidays are over. I'll just be a little more careful about what I eat, and it won't matter."
First of all, even if you were more careful than usual about what into your mouth (But let's be real, who really does that on holidays anyway?!), here's the bottom line: When exercise ends, detraining begins.
It's true. Runner's World magazine reported a study that after ust seven days of not training, blood colume dropped sharply, which affects your body's ability to be able to function aerobically. An even more shocking statistic....With just three to six weeks of inactivity, your fitness can drop to PRETRAINING levels. All of your hard work was wasted.

Here are three great ideas to back off on your training during December without sacrificing any of your athletic ability. (And hey, if you can keep up your normal routine, DO IT! You go, girl.)

1) Maintain at least 50% of your mileage.
If you normally get in 30 miles for week, don't leave the gym on Saturday night until you've gotten at least 15 miles logged for the week. Try to run at least 3 days per week, skipping days inbetween - that's just 5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Much more manageable!

2) Mix in some speedwork.
Since you're running less, pick up the pace a notch. This will work your VO2 max and challenge your body in a different way. Adding speed burns more calories. If you work hard enough, you might actually work off just as many calories as you would doing a longer run.

3) Schedule yourself for two races early in the Spring.
Racing season is right around the corner. Go ahead and hit up www.active.com to schedule your first two races. Having something on the calendar to work towards will serve as constant motivation...plus, you'll get the early bird discount!