Losing Endurance and How To Get It Back


Good morning!

Check out some of the new Smiley faces that Eric hooked me up with…

:alien: :angel: :blush: :cwy: :biggrin: :kissing: :sleeping: :w00t: :wub:

Good times.

For breakfast, I craved one thing and one thing only.


In the Green Monster: 1 frozen banana, 3 cup spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 scoop Amazing Grass Wheatgrass powder, ice.

Engines are revved.

Losing Endurance and How To Get It Back

Last night, I headed out for a run. Since I had my groin pull back in April, I have not been on a long run since the end of March and I have only been on 2-3 runs during all of April. This does not bode well for half marathon training- My race is on May 30th!

However, I knew that I wasn’t going to run as long as I felt pain in my groin area. It just isn’t worth it to risk injury (groins are notorious for taking a long time to heal).

Now that my groin is finally feeling better, I need to get right back in the game for my half training. My last long run was at the end of March in Florida when I ran 12 miles. That was 5 weeks ago. :blush:

Yesterday, I headed out and decided to see where my body took me. Maybe it would be a long run or a short run, I really wasn’t sure. I went out and the first mile, while tough, felt good. I settled into my normal 8:30 min/mile pace and was enjoying being able to run pain free. I finished my first mile, including a large hill, in 8:34 min/mile. I felt good!

However, the next couple miles were a complete struggle. My pace started to drop and I knew immediately that I had lost endurance since being off running for those few weeks.

The symptoms of lost endurance:

  • More difficulty breathing
  • Cannot maintain normal pace
  • Cannot go long distances
  • Did not feel as automatic or as relaxing
  • Doesn’t feel as fun as usual

My first thought was, OK now I believe the readers who said that swimming doesn’t really help with running endurance! :lol: The thing that gets me is that I feel like I am in amazing shape, but all that work I have done on the bike and in the pool doesn’t seem to translate into running endurance!

The splits:

Mile 1: 8:34 mile/min (ascent- 164 ft)

Mile 2: 9:10 mile/min (ascent- 95 ft)

Mile 3: 9:20 mile/min (ascent- 61 ft)

Mile 3-3.55: 5:06 mile/min (ascent- 57 ft)

As you can see each mile got slower, even though the ascent decreased.

My overall time was 32:11 mins. with an average pace of 9:11 min/mile, which is not a bad pace by any means, however what matters to me is how I felt while running it. It was a complete struggle and prior to April, I could have done that run in my sleep.

I am 19 days away from my half marathon on May 30th and I am going to try to re-build some of my lost endurance without over-doing it. I previously set a goal for myself to beat my last half marathon time (1:56:33), but in all honesty this race may not be the race to do that! And I am ok with that. Not every race that we sign up for will turn out like we hope. Things get in the way of training and there isn’t much we can do about it sometimes. I have also been juggling my try-a-tri training (the race is June 6th) and in all honesty, training for two different events at the same time is not easy.

My goal for this week is to get in another shorter run and then attempt a long run this weekend. I am hoping with some consistency over the next couple weeks, I can get back some of that lost endurance. I may end up running the half with no goal time at all, it really just depends how the next two weeks go!

Today’s question- Have you ever taken time off training (for an injury, travel, or to focus on another sport) and lost endurance? How did you get it back?

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

caitlin May 11, 2010

when i took two and a half months off last april from running, i lost so much endurance, it was ridiculous. before the break, i was running a max of 15 miles and i could do short runs at 8:30 or less. after the break, i came back at a 11:00 pace and struggled to run 1.5 miles. i think its just a matter of getting out there, minimizing breaks, and sticking to it. it will come back fast for you, though!


Alexa May 11, 2010

I just snapped my tibia and fibula in half on Friday, so I’ll be sure to tell you in three months when I heal :(


Heather (Heather's Dish) May 11, 2010

i have because of my knee injury, but it’s one of those things i just have to work at getting back. i will say that it’s better to take a day off in between longer workouts to recover because no one can run when they’re just totally exhausted. you’ll get it back and be amazing in the half!


Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow May 11, 2010

Lost endurance is a killer, isn’t it! So self defeating!

I have gone through many ups and downs with training/exercise. What works for me is to focus on the understanding that your body will gain back that endurance quicker than it took to first get it! Then…you start working physically.

– I typically try to incorporate some HIIT runs or workouts in there to jolt the body a bit without over doing distance or time
– change up the distances from long and slower to short and faster- this tends to keep the body working in different ways with one ultimate goal
– surprisingly when I stretch more my muscles recover in a MUCH FASTER time frame! then the next day they hurt less and feel lighter!

Juggling two events is tough girl! But the beauty of it is you can do anything and you have an incredible mindset which will carry you forward!


Morgan @ Life After Bagels May 11, 2010

Due to old and chronic injuries I am only mildly into running (let’s say I won’t be training for a half anytime) so I have to frequently take time off from running at all. Every time I go for that first run it feels like torture so I can totally relate.

I would say, don’t push yourself too hard over the next couple weeks. Maybe you shouldn’t set a time goal on this half, that might take the pressure off.


Jessica @ How Sweet May 11, 2010

I hate that feeling. It’s why I always try to keep active somehow, but luckily I’ve never had an injury. It just takes time!


Ameena May 11, 2010

I’ve had to take time off in the past for my knee problems and even now I have to take it easy. It wasn’t easy getting back into the swing of things but I find that I am in a better place overall when I do run now because I have been giving myself a break. Hope that makes sense??


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman May 11, 2010

Yes! It’s been five years with these injured knees and I’m sure I couldn’t even walk a mile without tiring! I can’t imagine the lack of endurance I’ll have if (when?) I recover.


Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 11, 2010

I’ve only attempted to train for a race once. I got runner’s knee and had to stop. 4 miles was my max “long run” and a few months later I went at it again and some how made it 4 miles. It honestly amazed me that I was able to just run again, but then again I wasn’t up to 12 miles.


emptynutjar May 11, 2010

I used to be a runner…havent run or did much exercise for various reasons over the last year ++ . whatever i had is completely gone.
I hope one day to be healthy and strong enough again to do things i enjoyed…at that time it will have to be baby steps.
its like they say : ” you start from here”…don’t look back or ahead…u can only start from where you are and what u have in the moment.


Joanna May 11, 2010

Hey Angela!
I am not sure if you have tried this before but it has worked for me in the past when training for big runs. I have this nagging pain in my right hip that pops up from the pavement pounding. It usually subsides after a couple days but gets me down since I can’t get out runnin’! So, to get up my endurance I started trying every other little thing that will challenge the ticker.

Shaun T’s Insanity workouts are fantastic for that as well as spin class and the elliptical. I am from NB so I don’t know if you guys have Goodlife or Nubody’s up in ONT, but they have Spin classes specifically designed to challenge your endurance.

It gives your running injuries a chance to heal up and (atleast for me) has made any 10-15k run a breeze. Good Luck and I Love Yer Blog!!


Andrea (Sweet N Green) May 11, 2010

I love your new blog design! Also, I agree with the HIIT method. That has always worked for me!


Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) May 11, 2010

I messed my knee up running a 10K (The Nike Human Race) at the end of August 2008. I had taken too much time off of running and then decided to “get back in shape” the week of the race, running 13 miles in a 24 hour period, totally jacking up my knee and then running the race anyway (IDIOT). I had to stop running for several months–I had knee pain just when walking–and when I came back it was TOUGH! But I learned from my mistake–consistent runs with just a tiny increase of pace or mileage each time. It took me a long time to get back into great running shape but I also wasn´t pushing it at all, for fear of messing up the knee again.


Erica Sara May 11, 2010

This post could not have come at a better time for me. Although I don’t start training for my next race until July, I still try to run a few times a week to maintain my endurance and I realize that I’ve definitely lost a lot of stamina lately. I am taking it easy & building it up day by day.
But, I was in a similar situation for the NY Half Marathon in March. I thought I had fractured my hip and only got the ok to run from my Dr. 3 weeks before the race. So, I just went for it. I made sure I didn’t over train,I ran 3 short runs during the week and 1 long on the weekend. When my muscles hurt and my legs were tired, I rested, iced & stretched.
The day of the race, I made my goal just to finish. The last 3 miles were totally mind over matter- I told myself not to give up. So I finished 4 minutes slower than my previous half. But I was just happy to finish.
Good luck! Look forward to hearing how you get your endurance back :)


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 11, 2010

After I ran my first half, I kind of wore myself out on running for a while, so I took a break and concentrated on other things. When I returned to running, I was so sad to see how much endurance I’d lost!! It’s definitely disappointing…but it felt good to work to get it back, too!


Katie May 11, 2010

I am literally in the same boat, except my half marathon is on May 22! I ran a half on March 21, and have pretty much stopped running since, due to ITB syndrome. I did a 4.5 mile run on Friday and one yesterday as well; I’m thinking that getting two workouts in (one run, one cardio machine later) might be the way to do it. I don’t know if trying to do a long run this weekend would completely discourage me, but I’m really hoping I can do this race!


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 11, 2010

I took two months off from running this winter and I found it a little tough to get back into it. But I made sure to listen to my body though and only push myself as far as I could handle. By easing back into it, I eventually built back up my endurance without any problems.

Good luck! Even if you don’t beat your time, running a half marathon is still a huge accomplishment to be proud of! :)


Colleen May 11, 2010

I was running/walking a lot over the past few months, then my husband decided to do the P90X workouts, so I’ve been supplementing a lot of those in my workouts and just sticking to walking my dog and hiking occassionally. My body change is phenomenal, and my arms and core are so much stronger, I also see a lot of muscles in my legs…but I tried to run on Sunday and decided to do a walk/run routine because a long run didn’t feel as comfortable as it did before. I felt so strong (and fast!) running, but I would run out of steam after a while, so I switched to walking. I decided I’m okay with the lack of endurance with running because now I can complete all the jump squat routines in the P90X DVDs, and that’s something I couldn’t do a couple of weeks ago!

I guess all my rambling leads me to this: don’t beat yourself up over it, and don’t let it define you. Enjoy your new strengths and gains with swimming and biking, and just go with it! I know you’re not one to get down on yourself (you have such a positive outlook!), but just know that you are strong in more ways than one! And just completing the half marathon in a few weeks (whether by walking, running or walk/run) is a great feat in itself, regardless of whether you’ve run the whole thing in the past!!


shelly May 11, 2010

I had to take practically all of Jan. and Feb. off from running because I managed to catch 3 chest colds in 2 months! (My fiance is in med school and, depending on the rotation, tends to bring home colds.) Normally, I wouldn’t be that affected (I usually just get head colds), but it was a cold, wet winter and I had a bad cough that wouldn’t go away. Plus, I the first cold made me wheeze- which was really scary. I worked out when I could (I have to, pretty much, to stay happy and upbeat), but it was pretty limited to me walking on an inclined treadmill and hoping people weren’t too frightened by my coughing.
When I was finally better, I think I started running about a week too early b/c I had a really horrible couple of runs. The next week though was pretty reasonable, and I got my endurance back in a pretty orderly manner. I just committed myself to two short runs (3 or 4 miles) and 1 long run (starting with 4 miles and working up to 7- I was training for a 10K) a week. One thing I do is allow myself to go slower than normal while I’m getting my mileage back up. Then, once I know I can do the miles, I start pushing myself to regain my speed. I still don’t feel that I’m as fast as I was before I got sick though (in all fairness, I trained and completed a half marathon last year and I haven’t tackled that distance yet, so doing that training for the 1/2’s I want to run in the fall will probably help with my speed- and I’m faster than I was at this time last year.)


Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story May 11, 2010

I am sidelined with a knee injury now and I’m miserable. I’m still at the beginning stages and not doing anything involving bending my knee so almost all cardio is out for a few more days. I will have to take a long’ish break from running for sure. I’m glad to read in your comments that the endurance can be reclaimed after a break. I’m sort of freaking out about it. It took me a long time to get where I am, I’m bummed to sit back and lose it. :)


yvette May 11, 2010

I’ll chime in as I’m in the same boat! I tore my rotator cuff back in early December and it stopped me dead in my tracks during the crazy holiday season. Even sleeping was painful. No yoga, no running, no nothing. Finally I started getting trigger massage which hurt like hell but saved me. THEN in the midst of it all I sliced the tip off my index finger working one day :( OUCH. No yoga for another 2 months. I just started back to yoga, running and showering with two hands this week :)

My overall point is, just keep at it! One of my friends is a professional triathelete and he tells me all the time that your body and muscles have so much memory and it WILL all come back. Just keep consistent (as someone else mentioned) and be patient (that’s the toughest part for me). I went from head stands in yoga to barely being able to touch my toes… but I have faith!

Keep doing what you’re doing! You totally inspired me to switch from my protein powder to Amazing Grass and Green Monsters! ;) Thanks for the inspiration!


Miranda May 11, 2010

For me, I completely related to this post when it comes to swimming. My form and technique become the pitts if I don’t go for a week or two. This is because I am not a strong swimmer so it takes a lot for me to get into a good groove. I really need to stay focused on my swimming, eventhough my try-a-tri isn’t until Aug 22nd.

This hasn’t happened as a result of an injury rather, being busy with work, trying to keep up with the house work and then other workouts. That is one thing I am loving about running and biking, the road is always open, whereas lane swim isn’t.


Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries May 11, 2010

Oh goodness…I just started running and this is a great pace for me :sad: But, I know what you mean. It’s not about the pace…it’s about how you feel. You will be amazed at how quickly it comes back though. You simply have to keep at it and I know you’ll kick butt :grin:


Erin at The Healthy Apron May 11, 2010

I am actually in the recovery process myself. Back in early MArch I had excruciating pain in my upper left shoulder. It basically kept me from doing most activity (other than walking). I’m now slowly building back up but I’ve noticed a huge difference in my endurance and strength. I’ts frustrating but my plan is just to start slowly and not push it too hard (to risk MORE injury) and give my body time and really listen to it. I think that listening to your body is the best medicine!


Tracey May 11, 2010

I have definitely gone through this before. I ran my first half marathon last year and since then have been running pretty sporadically. This year I decided to do another half marathon to beat my last time so I began the training. I recently came down with a flu bug and took a break from running for a couple weeks. I just started back into my runs again and I had the same thing happen. I was struggling to run 3-4 miles when before it would have been a piece of cake! It’s a frustrating process, but like you, I am now working to rebuild to where I once was in my running. Good luck Angela, you are in amazing shape and I know you will do awesome in your upcoming races! By the way, has Eric gone running with you anymore since that first run you guys had? I recently had the same thing happen. My boyfriend, who hates running, came home yesterday and said he wanted to run with me! I’m hoping he catches the running bug :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2010

Our weather has been super cold since that run so we haven’t been out together yet (he gets home late in the evening too). This weekend I am hoping for one!


mary May 11, 2010

Sometimes when this happens to me because I’ve taken a week off or so, I just have to remember my accomplishments and realize that I’ll get back to where I want to be i just need to keep plugging.

You’re amazing angela I have no doubt that you’ll rock that half marathon in a few weeks!


Keri May 11, 2010

What an encouraging post! I’m a huge fan who is officially delurking. :) I just dove back into running after falling off the wagon for about 3 months — and that was after struggling to build up from being a non-running to running my first 5k. I’m eager to build my strength and endurance up to a half-marathon in October. It was so tempting yesterday to get so discouraged when I struggled to run 1.5 miles in 21 minutes. I’m encouraged by the fact that its perfectly natural to ebb and flow in terms of endurance, especially when you’ve been focusing your energy elsewhere.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2010

yay for delurking! ;)

Don’t get discouraged!


Britt @ Runnerbelle May 11, 2010

I had surgery back in January…. when I was suppose to be ramping up marathon training for Boston in April. Fortunately my surgeon was great and was able to schedule me fairly quickly for the procedure, laparoscopy to drain & remove a grapefruit sized ovarian cyst! Prior to my surgery I had already scaled back as I was worried about rupturing the cyst, but also it was the holidays and I had just run the NYC marathon in November.

It was incredibly frustrating not to be able to workout for basically a couple weeks. I wasn’t suppose to start running for 2 weeks and I didn’t feel like doing much anything for a week anyways. I started just walking or biking at the gym….. for maybe 20 minutes max. I was really worried about rebuilding my endurance. But two weeks after my surgery I went for an easy 3 mile run with my mom. Near the end things didn’t feel fabulous so I did some walking. A couple days later I did a 5 mile run and felt a little better but still at a snails pace and some walking breaks. At just over 3 weeks post surgery though I decided to attempt a long run, I did a very slow 12 mile run with my mom….. on a very flat course. I survived but felt so slow. I kept at it though and started slowly building my mileage back up and despite surgery & my late training start, I completed the Boston Marathon! Was it my fastest marathon? No. Was it pretty darn good considering everything? YES!


Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary May 11, 2010

Sticking with it is the only way to get it back… I always call the first week ‘back’, hell week… b/c well, it feels like hell. ;)


Lily @ Lily's Health Pad May 11, 2010

It’s been my experience that nothing increases running economy…except running. It’s the sad truth.


Wei-Wei May 11, 2010

This happens with me for any kind of exercise, really… I guess the thing is just to keep working at it! I hate to see my progress lost :( Maybe I should really start a serious running program… I know I’ve been saying that for months now but I’m still a little scared. Meh… :/

Don’t push yourself too hard – don’t injure yourself! Take care and have a great day :)



jenny (Green Food Diaries) May 11, 2010

i’ve lost SO much endurance due to a whole bunch of things… IBS, stress, headaches… it’s been more than a year since I ran an hour daily. now when i run (which i picked up very recently), i run in the morning before breakfast for even 10-15 minutes, followed by yoga, to try to get my endurance going as much as possible. i say keep going at it while thinking of all your supportive readers! something tells me that you’ll get your endurance back in no time. mine always comes back, though it depends heavily on what kind of diet i’m following (i am currently on a mostly raw vegan diet).


Lisa May 11, 2010

I am in the same boat as you right now. I had my wisdom teeth taken out a few weeks back and had developed complications which prevented me from doing virtually any physical activity for 2 1/2-3 weeks. This all happened right before a 10K race, which was this past Sunday.

I was feeling extremely discouraged, as I had wanted to get a good time but the lack of training really messed me up. I ended up finishing the 10K in 58 minutes, which was very disappointing for me.

I am using this poor finish time as my motivation to get my endurance back! I am doing a half marathon in November (cold, I know) and I keep thinking about how awesome my time will be for that. That really keeps me going. Good luck!


Nasim May 11, 2010

I had to take off 2 months for shin splints (though I’m pretty sure it was a stress fracture)…and let me tell you I went through MAJOR runner’s depression. I did a lot of biking and swimming but it just didn’t compare to the feeling I would get when/after running. When I was able to start running again…I started off slooooow and gradually increased my weekly mileage by 10%. It was hard because I felt good at times and could go longer but made myself stop. Here’s a bit of running advice that has really helped me increase my speed and endurance. Do your long runs SLOW and EASY (around 1.5 min slower per pace…so if you want to run your race at an 8:30 min/mi…you should be doing your long runs at a 10 min/mi). The whole point of them is to just get your body used to being on its feet for a long period of time. When you run your long runs fast, you risk getting injured and trust me…been there done that. You build your speed with your speedwork outs (tempos and fartleks)…and it works!


Lisa May 11, 2010

I had the opposite experience with swimming. Swimming was my “first sport” and I firmly believe that the endurance and stamina I gained from swimming helped me to transition to running easily.


She-Fit May 11, 2010

I hate when I loose endurance. But considering the circumstance, you did really well. I’m sure you will build back up your endurance for the race.


Deanna May 11, 2010

I’m on a super long break right now, after fighting chronic IT band issues for the last couple of years. I’m slowly, slowly, slowly building up the endurance again. I think that’s pretty much the only way to do it.

For you, though, I’d recommend slowing down. You’ll be able to go longer if you just give up the speed aspirations for a while. Make it a goal to do 10 min/mile and see how you feel. It’s a short term thing. You won’t lose speed endurance by slowing down your long runs. You’ll just recover faster and be able to go longer.

(For what it’s worth, I did all my long runs for my last half mary in the 10+ minute mile range and averaged 8:41 in the race without too much extra effort. Short runs I pushed the pace more, but the long runs were always slow.)


Diana @ frontyardfoodie May 11, 2010

Way to get back into it! I think just finishing a half marathon is a huge accomplishment no matter what! Don’t push yourself to re-injury! You can do this!


ens May 11, 2010

I was a swimmer my whole life and i have to disagree with those people who say that swimming doesn’t help your endurance… I suppose I could be wrong but i feel like that was the only reason i was able to run! I think running/swimming/individual sports are more mental than anything. You really need to push yourself through a few mid distance runs and honestly it will come back faster than you think.


Tyler May 11, 2010

i was out of running for a couple months last summer, and the first fews runs after taking time off were frustrating! but you will get your endurance back pretty quickly. just keep doing 3 mile runs every other day until you feel like you can do 4 miles. gradually increasing mileage is the key to not getting re-injured. if i were you, i probably would rethink that half marathon! you know your own body, but when i was coming back from my injury, i didn’t attempt that kind of distance for at least 3 months. but i did do a sprint triathlon after just a few weeks b/c i had been crossing training like you with swimming and biking. good luck!!


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2010

Yea I am definitely going to play it by ear. If I am not ready I will not be running it.


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