If you’ve had your holiday, I hope it was good and you’re feeling relaxed and recharged. If you’re about to go away, then I wish you safe and happy travels. Either way, it’s worth thinking about your return to running after a break. How much fitness will you lose if you don’t run on holiday? What’s the best way to return to running after a holiday? Is it ok to just pick up where you left off if you’ve only had a week off?

I’m just back from a holiday and been out for a run. While I was running I was considering these questions and more so I thought it might be helpful to put them in a blog post for you.

Here are four things to think about to make sure you have a smooth return to running after your holiday:

1. Have you run on holiday?

Some people like to run on holiday and some don’t. Some people want to but can’t. Sometimes it’s possible and sometimes it isn’t. I’ve had extended holidays when I haven’t run once and others when I’ve run nearly every day. This year I thought I’d run quite a bit while I was away and I only ran three times in two weeks. I just didn’t feel like it and holidays are for doing exactly what you want aren’t they?!

Obviously if you’ve run regularly, you don’t need to take any extra care to go back gradually when you get home. But, if you’ve run much more than you usually would you might need to take things down a notch or two to recover. If you haven’t run at all then it’s best to plan some kind of graded return to your normal running.

The other thing to consider is how active you’ve been on holiday generally, perhaps you haven’t run but you’ve walked, cycled or been swimming everyday. These activities all help to maintain fitness but are a little different to running so you can’t fully rely on then for a seamless transition back to running.

2. How long was your holiday?

With a week off running you can pretty much pick up where you left off but you’ll benefit from one easy-ish run to get the joints oiled.

Two weeks of not running and you’ll have lost a little bit of fitness but not as much as you might imagine and it will quickly bounce back. It’s definitely worth doing a couple of shorter, easy runs before returning to your pre-holiday training.

Longer than two weeks and you might have lost a bit of muscular strength as well as aerobic fitness. In this case it’s a good idea to start with core and balance exercises before you start gradually running again, to reduce your risk of injury.

3. What’s your previous experience of returning to running after a break?

We’re all different and some people slot back into their running routine quickly after a break. Others find it harder to re-establish routine and consistency.

We’re also different in our risk of injury. For some, doing too much too quickly after time off is disastrous and injury strikes easily. This is more likely to be the case in older runners, new runners and those who have had frequent or past injuries.

It’s worth having a think about when you’ve returned to running smoothly in the past and what has helped. Have you had times when you’ve been so enthusiastic and thrown yourself back into running only to get injured? We all make mistakes, that’s fine but it’s better if we can learn from them. My blog on How to Avoid Running Injuries might give you some tips.

4. Are you wanting to make changes in your running?

Holidays are transitions and any change of circumstance can be an ideal opportunity to make changes in your behaviour.

I don’t know about you but my annual summer holiday is a time when I do a life audit and think about the year that’s just been. My brain has more space to consider where I’m at and what I want. I usually come back bursting with new resolutions!

If your running was going really badly then this could be the ideal chance to get things back on track again. It’s common to feel as if you are starting from scratch after a holiday so why not make the most of that and start some new running habits.

If you were in full stride and running well, reflecting on why that was and what was working for you will help you to maintain the habit.

My experience

For me personally, I was running pretty well before my holiday this year. I was doing 10 miles on long runs and a couple of shorter runs each week. After a two-week holiday with just three very short runs in extreme heat, I decided not to immediately return to a long run. I did do lots of walking on holiday so my legs felt pretty strong. I’ve returned by doing a couple of easy 5ks and some Pilates and I plan to do a longer run of about 10k at the weekend. Then, after one more week I’ll be right back where I was before my holiday. That’s the plan anyway!

Let me know what your return to running plans and experiences are and how you get on.

Featured image: From this year’s holiday! drjulietmcgrattan.com

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