Losing Endurance and How To Get It Back

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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.

IMG_6747

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 }

1 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!

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2 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 :(

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3 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!

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4 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!

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5 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.

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6 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!

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7 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??

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8 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.

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9 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.

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10 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.

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11 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!!

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12 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!

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13 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.

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14 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 :)

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15 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!

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16 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!

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17 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! :)

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18 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!!

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19 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.)

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20 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. :)

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21 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!

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22 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.

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23 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:

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24 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!

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25 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 :)

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26 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!

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27 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!

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28 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.

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29 Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2010

yay for delurking! ;)

Don’t get discouraged!

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30 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!

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31 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. ;)

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32 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.

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33 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 :)

Wei-Wei

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34 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).

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35 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!

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36 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!

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37 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.

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38 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.

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39 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.)

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40 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!

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41 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.

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42 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!!

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43 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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44 Leah May 11, 2010

I injured my ankle a couple months ago, so I started to focus more on yoga and riding my stationary bike. I got back into running a little too early and now Im having ankle problems AGAIN. But before that, it really helped to run without my ipod. Thats probably the opposite of just about everyone, but it helped me focus on how I felt instead of the music.

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45 Olivia May 11, 2010

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now without commenting, and though I should stop lurking. I really appreciated this post on endurance, as that is exactly where I am in my training goals. (Though I’ve never run more than a 5k!) I’m curious–and you’ve probably posted about this before–what’s your amazing huge GPS sports watch? I’m an info junkie, and would love to get one. Would you recommend yours?

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46 AngelaOSG May 11, 2010

It is a Garmin 305 and I LOVE it!

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47 AngelaOSG May 11, 2010

PS- you can get them at costco!

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48 Cynthia (It All Changes) May 11, 2010

Honestly the only way I’ve ever been able to build back up my endurance is to treat it like I’m a newbie again. Not to push to hard too quickly. It will come back faster than you think but give it time.

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49 Lizzie May 11, 2010

Hi Angela:

I took 3 months off to give my ankle a rest after I did something to it (still don’t know what!) during a 5k in October. Until that point I had been on track to do my first 1/2 but, like you, am finally learning that it’s not worth it to push it so I dropped out of that race! Fast forward to the middle of March – back on the t-mill for 3-4 mile easy runs, STILL no long runs, and the 1/2 I signed up for in December one month away! I ended up squeezing in 1×11 and 2×9 mile runs in the weeks leading up to the race and finished in just under 2 hours. However the race was not what I expected. It had hills (had done no hill training at all), it rained and was cold the entire time and my whole warm up/mental prep (strides, motivating iPod music) never happened. I just had to jump from umbrella to corral and start running. So I thank you for the reminder that races don’t always go according to plan. :)
I think what enabled me to maintain my endurance during my off time was getting to the gym 5 days a week and either cycling, working out on the elliptical, some strength, taking a kick boxing class, and some spinning classes. It didn’t make getting back into running any less harder mentally, but it helped to know that even though I wasn’t at my fastest, I could still compete and finish (though in the days leading up to it I was struggling to even believe that!). One thing I have been doing (that unfortunately finishes in 2 weeks b/c my insurance won’t pay anymore!) is physical therapy for my ankle at a local clinic. Initially I resented doing this, but decided to be proactive about it and maybe learn some strengthening exercises and ways to be preventative of injury. It has been very helpful!
You might surprise yourself on your 1/2 with your time. :)

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50 Tay May 11, 2010

I definitely know where your’e at right now. I first took time off of running a little over a year ago in the middle of marathon training. I was doing 40-45 mpw, and was up to 18 mile long runs. I could whip out 8-10 mile runs during any normal day during the week. I originally took time off thinking that it would be a temporary thing. I could cross train and maintain most of my fitness. Fast forward a year, and I’m just now starting to get back into running. 3 and 4 miles runs are HARD. I went on a 5.5 mile run the other day, and it completely felt like a 20 miler. I even take multiple walk breaks now which is something I never did before! I know it’s possible to build the fitness back up, but it’s going to be a long journey. And as excited as I am, I’m also really discouraged that it’ll never happen! But gotta keep chuggin :-)

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51 kelsey@snackingsquirrel.com May 11, 2010

yea HIIT training is all i can think of.. oh and hiking.. those two are what helped me. in terms of supplements id like to recommend coenzyme q10… i did a ltitle trial with it and totally saw an improvement in my running distance and pace. but yea, hopefully u’ll find what works for you. i think thats awesome that u noticed a pattern in ur speed by tracking it. thats awesome1

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52 Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries May 11, 2010

Wow, what a perfect post for me to read. I literally JUST got back from my first run in about 2 months since my stress fracture! I only did 15 minutes at a very slow pace, but I’m sure if I had pushed myself it would have been tough. We can get our endurance back together! I’m impressed you’re doing a race so soon!

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53 G May 11, 2010

Hi Angie,
Do not worry about your timing. Like one of them said, it’s all ‘Muscle Memory’. It will come back to you soon. In the meantime, just train for what you can…but be consistent. It’s amazing how consistency can make one better at whatever we undertake!
If you have to train doing a walk/ jog- run, pls do. Our body knows best. With time our performance will only get stronger. And don’t worry about time etc, stress can only worsen things.
At the same time ‘honor your body’…the human body is the most complex, intricate machine…and it does an excellent job of letting us know how its doing…we just have to listen to our bodies.
Good luck on your races. You a person with amazing strength and integrity. You will do well in all your endeavors. Good Luck!
(I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but haven’t commented much). :)

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54 Mel May 11, 2010

Here’s what worked for me:
Walk during warm up (at least 5 minutes)
Mile 1: Decrease normal pace (for you maybe try running 9:00 to 9:30 mms)
after 5 minutes take a walking break (30 seconds – 2 minutes) -whatever is needed
Mile 2: Repeat, even if its easy
Mile 3: Increase pace slightly if you feel good and try a shorter walking break
Mile 4: Hold pace or increase slightly if you still feel good
Cool down: Walk at least 5 minutes
YOGA TIME!

The recipe for running longer is starting out slower, possibly much slower. Making peace with that is probably the hardest part. You seem to have a great attitude and sometimes that’s half the battle. After a few slow runs you’ll probably regain your endurance pretty quickly. Good luck!

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55 Kacy May 11, 2010

I was sick for the majority of the time I was training for my first half. It was miserable, but the race still went well. I think racing is mainly a mental game, and I was just in a really good frame of mind so it all worked out.

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56 Kristin May 11, 2010

As a long distance runner myself, I agree that you should slow down the pace. Even if you are hoping for a sub-2 hour half, you don’t need to be training at an 8:30 pace! Drop it to 9:30-10:00 and I think it will be easier on your body, allow you to run further, and help your endurance by increasing time on your legs. If you want to work on your speed a little, do some interval sprints at a faster pace (if you feel up to it). Increasing your distance and time spent running will do more for your endurance than running fast for short runs (in my opinion). Good luck!

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57 Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2010

Good tip!

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58 Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life May 11, 2010

I actually noticed a big change just in the 10 days that I was away for my honeymoon this past January. When I came back and tried to get back “into the swing of things”, it took me another good week to actually start to feel like I was before I had left. I’ve really just started running at longer distances over the past 6 months or so, so I’m still working up my own endurance. Just increasing a little bit intermittently helps a lot!
P.S. – I LOVE the smiley faces! I gotta see if I can find some of those for my site! :)

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59 Bekah - runtrackmind May 11, 2010

Oh, Angie I feel for you. Why does it seem running endurance falters even after a short time off when we put so much time and effort in building it up? I am just getting over a head/chest cold which took me out of my marathon training for a week….My race is May 30th too! Of course I felt the affects of missing those days but my biggest obstacle is my mental attitude. Trying to stay positive, not letting the feeling of defeat or fear set in all the while trying to be smart about proceeding with the few weeks of training I have left. With an injury or illness we need to be so careful not to go out too fast (either in speed or distance) that we end up right back injured or sick. Stay positive, girl!

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60 Salah@myhealthiestlifestyle May 11, 2010

LOVE green monsters! I’ve never put PB/AB in it though…maybe tomorrow! I have had tons of injuries…after training at a high level for so long you just get used to the pain but this past summer I had to sit out the entire summer due to a leg injury and then had to jump right into 3-a-days….I made sure I was eating as well as I could so that I could provide the right energy at the right time, and then the best recovery foods during my recovery time. It was very specific and time consuming but totally worth it :-)

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61 Samantha @ Food Edu May 11, 2010

Your question makes me laugh because sometimes I won’t run for a week or week and a half and then I feel like I have no endurance at all. Then I kick myself for taking a break!

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62 Carla May 11, 2010

I totally know what you mean, this morning was my first run (3 miles) since my 10 mile race which was 10 days ago, and it felt like the hardest run ever. I wanted to take a few days off running after the race because I was having some tightness/pain and it turned into 10 days. I’ll never take that much time off again! I am hoping it comes back quickly!!

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63 Kellie May 11, 2010

I did loose endurance when I took off some time running, but I think you will find that it does come back quickly. Within a few weeks, I felt like it hadn’t even left. Just give it a little time and you will be back to where you were.

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64 Jaya May 11, 2010

I have to agree that I think swimming is actually great for when you need time off from running! I had a foot problem about 6 weeks before training camp last year, so I switched entirely to biking and swimming and was just amazed at how well I was able to take those gains into running, once my body was ready for impact again!
Having said that, it’s been almost 9 months since I’ve been able to exercise at all (only recently re-introduced running) and I really believe that the longer you are at it (in terms of your overall commitment to active living) the easier it is to rebuild your work capacity. I don’t really have any desire to run anymore – 15 years of non-stop pavement has not been ideal for my joints – but I have total faith that my fitness and strength will come back as well as ever as long as I follow my body’s feedback. Use that pain as a guide, and I know you will do great. It can be discouraging, but just try to remember that it’s not always about what you can “get back” but how you can move forward. I wish you, above all, good health!

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65 Jaya May 11, 2010

Oops – I meant that I re-introduced walking!

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66 Carolyn @ lovinlosing May 11, 2010

I’ve been slacking on running the past few weeks due to a bad race, erratic weather, a short vacation, and (like you) triathlon training. I’ve got a 10K on the 29th so hopefully it won’t be too hard.

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67 Lauren @ Health on the Run May 11, 2010

First of all, I’m just now catching up on my blog reading and so I have to say — I love your new site layout!! The header is gorgeous and it’s apparent how much hard work you’ve put into it! So glad the site is finally up and running! :)

Secondly, I can definitely commiserate when it comes to losing endurance. It’s amazing how fast it goes away. I’ve been plagued by countless injuries throughout my running career and after each one, it’s so frustrating to have to work my way back up to my previous level of fitness. But honestly, the hardest thing is those first couple of runs back. Once you get over the hurdle of getting back out there, I find that things start to come back fairly quickly. My only little tidbit of advice is to not do too much, to quickly. Sometimes I can over-do it, because I either a) get excited about starting to feel better and so think I can make it a whole 10 miles instead of sticking with 5; or b.) just get impatient “waiting” for my body to catch up to what my mind thinks it should be able to do. Obviously this is counter-productive and can only lead to more injuries in the end!

Good luck with your training as you build up to your Half!!

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68 Paige (Running Around Normal( May 11, 2010

How discouraging! I’m a little worried about my endurance and I’ve only been off a week! You’ll get it back though, keep it up. It’s probably a great idea you didn’t push yourself to run with an injury!

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69 Ilana May 11, 2010

I’m actually in the same boat right now. I took a week off of Pilates because of a shoulder injury, and it ended up turning into three weeks. Before my break, I was super on top of everything, I could push my body to limits I didn’t know I was capable of, and felt very powerful. I just started going back, I’m a few weeks in and everything just feels harder. I know I’ll get back to where I was eventually, and I’m trying my hardest to relish the challenge instead of get frustrated at my own drawbacks.

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70 Lizz @ Leading the Good Life May 11, 2010

I’m going through a similar situation – it’s really hard! I try to remind myself that this time around won’t be as hard. Sure, my body needs to be trained again, but I haven’t lost everything. I know what to look out for, pain-wise; I know that I need more fuel and more sleep; I know how to zone-out during a run, if I need to; I know what kind of music gets me ready to run; I know what to eat before and during my runs….at one point I didn’t know any of this and had to learn as I went, making mistakes along the way that surely slowed down my training. I’m hoping my ‘mental endurance’ will make it easier to build up my physical endurance this time around!

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71 Kilee May 11, 2010

Wow! Great responses and advice from everyone! I had to wear a walking cast for 8 miserable weeks, in the middle of the summer while living on Maui. I was so antsy to get back to working out, but took my time to slowly ease into things. My ankle has been fine since then, I think that the rest & recovery really helped. I say to listed to your body and if race day comes and you aren’t ready, then wait until next year. I know that’s hard to do, but if it means saving yourself from reinjury, it’s worth it. Take care!

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72 Lindsey May 11, 2010

I love this post!! I fractured my foot and had to take 2 months off of running (and wearing high heels gasp). When I came back it was hard, and I found it discouraging but there is something about the mental preparation part and knowing that you have done it in the past that gets you through it. And sometimes there are just bad days where your body is just not feeling it. Good luck in the 1/2!!

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73 Allie May 11, 2010

I’ve had the endurance issue happen to me before. I took a break from running for a month or so around Christmas last year – and it was a tough haul getting back into it. I’m sure you’ll get rebuild your endurance in no time – good luck with the Half, and the Tri!

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74 Jill May 11, 2010

I am taking time off from running right now due to a foot injury. I’m in the middle of a 5K training program. I’ve never been able to run much before and I was finally feeling like I am getting somewhere! But now I have to wait until things heal… On the bright side, I can still bike and use the elliptical. Which means I can boost my endurance and ability another way for a while. It’s probably good for me too :)
Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be running easy again before you know it!

Jill

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75 Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) May 11, 2010

I’m working on endurance right now, after 2 years of not running more than 3 miles. Not so easy! But the way you’re approaching it is awesome!! I’m sure you’ll rock the race :D

xo
K

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76 Triathlonbabe May 11, 2010

OMG, I took off in 2008 after my last big triathlon because my bulging discs finally said quit, so I had to take a few months off from everything in order to do physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. It took me a long while to get my endurance back. I was able to swim, cycle and light walking but no running. Then recently in Dec. I had a major surgery (female stuff) and at the moment am having to build the endurance back up. It’s hard but I know from experience it takes time. Speaking of time, since you know you might disappoint yourself and for the sake of injury again, do this race “for fun”, you might surprise yourself even if you don’t push it. :)

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77 Jackie (Peaces of Earth) May 12, 2010

I have definitely lost endurance before! It’s not fun, but just know that you’ve been there before and are totally capable of getting back to your bad self. :) I think someone said something similar already but I would recommend slowing down a little. Training at a slightly slower pace would make working your way up distance wise easier. I haven’t done this but have you ever tried heart rate training? My impression is that you concentrate on increasing your distance all while running in your target heart rate and never pushing yourself beyond (this includes walking if you have to). After a while you’ll be able to go faster while maintaining the same heart rate. This way, you’re naturally increasing your speed as you increase your distance and are not burning yourself out trying to improve both.

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78 Michelle May 13, 2010

I actually lose endurance pretty easily. Especially when there’s hills involved. I find that doing interval runs full of short sprints and recovery time gets ke back in shape quick!

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79 beatriz August 23, 2010

hi! i am working through recovery for my groin right now, still having trouble balancing rest and working out…when i read this thought your experience could help me. what happened to you and how did u recover? thanks

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80 Lauren December 3, 2012

Hi!! I feel your pain!! despite having shoulder arthroscopic surgeryand being 10 weeks out, i have not gained any endurance back since i was released 2 weeks ago. I am having difficulty with running 2.5 miles when i was running a schedule of :
s:off, m:5, t:4 and aerobics, w: off, th: 7, f: off, s: 3 or 5m. And with thehope of running a 1/2 marathonin fall (that was put on hold). I am jut disgusted with myself and I want to run longer runs and also not die from exhaustion. Please someone say i am not the only one who feels this terrible and not to give up!

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81 Catherine June 9, 2013

Wow, I’m so glad I came across this page because I definitely feel less alone now. I took 4 weeks off from all activity and now I’m back to running and my endurance has gone to pieces. I could run 6km before fairly easily but now I’m lucky if I can make it to 2.5km. I have a 10k race in just 3 weeks and I think I have to accept the fact that there’s no way I can be ready in time. It feels horrible that all the work I’ve put into my fitness can be taken from me in such a short amount of time!

Also have to agree about the swimming. I was a competitive swimmer up until the age of 23 and running and swimming are totally different. Most of the propulsion in swimming comes from the arms (I believe it’s 80%+) and your body weight is supported by buoyancy whereas running is the legs and the legs also have to work against gravity. I actually think swimming is one of the worst cross-training sports for running as a result!

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82 dahee park December 10, 2014

I used to be a runner, then moved on to mountain biking within a group, and ultimately became a triathlete… and won in the female division in a small town. However i got into bodybuilding and then cut down all my cardio.. its been almost 2 years since ive switched over… and my endurance is completely down! I cant even run a mile without taking deep breaths… but hey run everyday, push yourself and challenge yourself everyday. ANd you can be that again! Why?? Because you once were & you are perfectly capable! Im upping my cardio more and more.. running, biking, and swimming.. expanding my lungs again.so i can conquer more races… the thrill is so awesome. These sports i love… my ultimatum is to be a bodybuilder triathlete!!! Strong mindset: endless possibilities. Good luck. Make a goal & just stick to it… most of all stay strong, and consistency is key! Also, youre stronger than you think! ☺

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