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> Detraining in running- meaning, when, how and what does it consist of?

Detraining in running- meaning, when, how and what does it consist of?

Publish date 09.01.2023

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Detraining in running- meaning, when, how and what does it consist of?

It doesn’t matter if you run every day or every 2 days. Eventually, there will come a time in your life when you will have to say stop when it comes to training. But don’t panic, it’s not about stopping running completely or going very long without training. After all, in this article, we’re not going to talk about injuries, but about detraining (or deload). 

Is this the first time you’ve encountered such a term? Do you want to learn more? Then you’ve come to the right place – in this article I’ll tell you what is detraining, what benefits it has, and when it’s best to do it. Read on to find more! 

Deload – meaning

If you’re an avid runner, what you’re reading may be a blow right to your heart. What is detraining? It is about 2-4 weeks when you don’t do intensive running training. It even gets to the point where it’s a period of giving up physical activity completely. 

“What? This is some kind of joke?”

No, I’m not joking at all. The length of the break from training depends on how often and how intensely you have been training for the last couple of months.

Long and intense training = long rest. 

Therefore, if you are a professional runner, you run practically every day, and your workouts are intense + additionally, you do other exercises then the period of deload can last even 3-4 (sometimes even more) weeks. 

If you run only recreationally (e.g. every two days), then 2 weeks without training is enough for you. During this time you focus on yourself, your body, and rest. 

Scheduled vs unplanned detraining 

You can probably guess which one is better. Scheduled, of course. That’s when you know exactly when you’re going to take a break from training. During this time, focus on full rest and recovery. 

Unplanned deload is when an injury suddenly happens to you. Then the period without training can reach even several months. You will certainly be notified about that by your physician or physiotherapist. However, you don’t have to worry so much about injuries if you stretch, warm up, develop a good running technique and take care of proper recovery after training. 

You’d rather decide for yourself when to put your running shoes away on the locker and sit in front of the couch, rather than let overtraining and injury decide about that, right? 

Who should think about detraining? 

Everyone should include it in their exercise plan. However, certain groups should have it well planned.

Runners competing in competitions – they train a lot before competitions, and they have a lot of events they want to take part in. You need to add to stretching, strengthening, and gym exercises. Wow, this is a lot. Such an intense time will tire out even the most persistent runner. 

So, when is the best time to plan for a period of detraining? The middle of summer and the end of autumn. That’s when the competition season ends – organizers take a break – you should also take a break! Take one or two breaks a year for a full recovery. 

“Well you said about professionals, but what about amateurs – there are a lot of them”.

And for these people, a period of deload is important. It’s best to introduce it into the plan from the very beginning. This will help you get used to the break – remember that health and recovery are more important than medals. 

Detraining – does everyone have to have it in their plans? 

Not every runner needs to have a detraining in their plans. This process applies primarily to those who train often, a lot, and intensively – after all, they need to have a good rest eventually. 

People who run recreationally, without time or pace pressure, and additionally do not impose a large number of mills on themselves do not need to take such a long break. What’s more, a lot of running workouts will be pleasurable for them. However, if you feel that you need a break – even if you run just for pleasure – do it. It’s better to add them to your running plan for the whole year than to suffer from injuries later. 

Detraining – the benefits 

You might have already gleaned a bit from this article that retrenchment is good for your body and recovery. However, we will now delve more deeply into the advantages. 

Well, the benefits of a retrenchment affect:

  • The nervous system – controls your muscles and one or two days off between workouts may not be enough. The nervous system is not so easy to get into a really bad state, but through lack of recovery, stress, and high effort, it can happen. That’s why it’s a good idea to focus on your detraining so that you don’t bring your nervous system to a critical state that’s hard to fix later. 
  • The Immune system – the immune system is also boosted during the de-training. 
  • Microtrauma regeneration – sports-induced microtrauma causes chronic inflammation. This strains the body’s immune system, as it keeps the defense mechanisms in constant readiness. With a break, these micro-injuries will regenerate and the inflammation will disappear. 
  • Endocrine system – intense sports also mean an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. Rest for a few weeks to bring this hormone back to normal.
  • Mental health – constant training, the rigor of running, and additional responsibilities are an overload for any person, not only physically but also mentally. That’s why it’s worth taking a break and finally relaxing properly. Through constant training, you can lead to sports burnout and lower mood, and after all, this is not the purpose of sports. 

As you can see, relaxation from training is very necessary. Deload is a period when you can finally lounge on the couch and watch TV series or read books without feeling guilty that you didn’t go to training or could have used this time to exercise. 

Detraining – when should you do it?

As you already know, almost everyone needs detraining. Even if you train recreationally and run for pleasure you should take time off from training if you feel that your body is starting to obey you. However, when do you need to take a break? 

  • You start to get tired of running – it happens that people who want to get in shape quickly turn up the pace too much. Because of this, the intensity of the workouts is high, and you just don’t make it. It can get to the point where you feel you’ve overtrained. Then not only are you sore and have soreness, but you’re probably thinking about giving up running. That’s why during such a period it’s a good idea to allow yourself to do a deload. You will come back stronger and with a desire to continue running. 
  • You don’t see an improvement in your performance – this means that your body can’t give any more of itself. It needs recovery and rest. Detraining will do you good. Many times it happens that it is the regeneration that makes runners improve their results. 
  • Overtraining – do you feel pain in your joints, sleep worse, and have no appetite? Can’t even think about running? These are (among others) signs of overtraining. Rest a few weeks and get back to running.
  • Hard times in life – each of us has our problems. Some people get away from them thanks to running, but for others, physical activity and their problems make things even worse. During this time, focus on what’s important, put your running shoes away in the closet for a few weeks and focus on what’s important – your physical health, mental health, family, friends, and, of course, yourself! 
  • You are sick more often – a sign not of deterioration of the immune system but also the nervous system. Intense training is an extra dose of stress, which also affects the immune system. Give your body time to recover. These few weeks can work wonders. 

Detraining – what should it look like? 

How to deload? It all depends on you. It’s a time off, a vacation time for every runner. During this time you can laze on the couch, go abroad, watch a TV series all day or read a book. During these weeks, you don’t have to plan your workouts, just what to do with your free time. 

However, if for physical reasons you need the detraining in your schedule and dithering then it is worth consulting a physiotherapist at the very beginning. They will tell you how to deal with an injury or overtraining. 

If, on the other hand, the problem is your psyche, don’t be afraid to ask for help. More and more people are struggling with depression or other symptoms that make it impossible to function and do any physical activities. Go to a psychologist and talk to them honestly. Sometimes even one conversation can change our thinking. 

Do I have to give up physical activity completely?

No. Just don’t do heavy exercises and intense workouts. It is one of the most frequent question when it comes to how to deload. Instead of running, go for a bike ride, swim, or do yoga. These are activities that are sure to give you satisfaction and you won’t feel the lack of daily adrenaline and excitement of running as much.

Diet vs. detraining

If you “quit” running for a while, don’t forget to eat healthy and balanced meals. Remember about your diet. Think about adjusting the menu to your new lifestyle for these few weeks. 

Of course, you can indulge in some delicious sweet treats 😉 However, don’t eat too much. 

Detraining – runners’ concern about their condition

You may inevitably experience a slight drop when it comes to your condition because of detraining. After all, you won’t run for 2-4 weeks. However, you don’t have to worry too much about it. When you come back, you’ll quickly return to good condition, and in many cases, you’ll even be able to improve it quickly, and who knows, maybe you’ll perform even better than you did before your rest. 

I’m sure that your muscles and fitness will very quickly remember how they worked before the rest period. Believe me, you will return to the running trails stronger, rested, and eager for further adventures and challenges ahead. 

Remember to eat healthy during your “vacation” from running. 

Detraining – what’s after?

When you have finished the period of detraining slowly and gradually return to training. It will probably be difficult to get back on the running path after a period of “laziness” at first, but you will succeed. Return to training on the day on which you have planned the end of your deload. Meaning? Not a day longer! Why? Because after that it will be increasingly difficult for you to return to running. 

Don’t start intensely. Train gradually until you are back in full shape. Start with light runs, then add speed workouts, then intervals and long, grueling runs. Slowly return to maximum performance. 

What is detraining? Now you know. As you can see it is a very important thing for every runner. So be sure to add to your plan and recuperate before the next challenges. 

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