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—Michael May, Boulder, CO
This article appeared in our April 2009 issue.
Coach cringes when you say “a couple of weeks” because that’s the dividing line. Studies have shown that if you go up to two weeks without running, the performance loss is minimal, according to several studies, including one key one in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1985 by E.F. Coyle and W.H. Martin.
To stave off potential loss when you’re traveling or are crazy busy, fit in short workouts. If you can slot in even 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll avoid the pain of re-conditioning. And keep short sessions more intense. For example, do some fartleks or a 10-minute tempo run.
Shoot for at least two workouts a week. This gets trickier if you are injured, meaning you’ll need to find an alternative such as water workouts, swimming or biking. If you are sick, however, don’t push it too soon since you may just get worse and extend your time off.