Fitness Friday on Taking a Break From Running

Hello and Happy Friday!

time to drink up

This morning I woke up to a special delivery. Ben brought me a donut. Not sure why, but I’ll take it!

donut friday (600x800)

sexy cake

I did a 6 mile run fueled by my special treat and felt great. Donuts should be my new pre-race meal!

6 miles (600x800)

Post run: eggs and oatmeal

eggs and sriracha (800x600)

Fitness Friday, on taking a vacation from running.

Before I went to China I was worried I wouldn’t be able to run much for those nine days of the trip. The tour group didn’t give us an hourly itinerary before the trip, but I (correctly) figured we would be meeting early every day.


Most of the time the gym didn’t open until 6:30am. One place didn’t open until after 8am! So, I had 30 minutes at most to get some kind of workout in before I had to get ready, eat breakfast and show up in the lobby. (Running earlier than that outside wasn’t an option because it was still very dark and freezing cold.)


I LOVE running while traveling – it’s the best way to see a new place! But, it just wasn’t possible on this trip so I did my best with the days I was able to get in a short run on the treadmill.

I probably got in four 30 minute runs and one 2 miler while I was gone. This seems like a pretty good week of runs to the average bear, but I average 40 miles a week so this the equivalent of taking a week off to my legs and lungs.

So…. how quickly does someone lose fitness after not running or working out?

I read this in Runner’s World on the way back from China and agree that it’s accurate for me. It says you can rest/recover from an illness or injury for 2 weeks before losing fitness.

taking a week off from running (800x600)

I did some research on this and found similar opinions on this, but some sources say after +2 weeks your body loses about 6% of VO2max.

Recent studies show that there is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is prudent here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a decently trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. Beginner runners will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a smaller base of fitness.”

(Source: Runners Connect)

This blog by Coach Joe English shares Jack Daniels formula that is similar but says those losses don’t occur until about 21 days.

Running Coach Jack Daniels quotes some specific numbers in his book Daniel’s Running Formula“. He are some sample values in the loss of cardio-vascular fitness from his book:
Up to 5 days — no loss
7 days off — 0.6%
14 days off — 2.7%
21 days off — 4.8%
28 days off (one month) — 6.9%
56 days (two months) — 15.3%

Given I was running so so much around October/November I think my body probably benefited from a rest period. I take two rest days from running during the week, but long distance is hard on any body and I’m hoping it was a nice little present to take that time off. I personally think if you exercise 50 weeks out of the year taking 2 off would be a nice rest and rebuilding time for your muscles Smile

Question: How many rest days a week do you take?


  1. says

    I need to work on learning how to take breaks. We have a 2 week honeymoon in (freezing) Austria coming up. No treadmills and lots of snow = very little running for this girl. But I am trying to embrace the time off. . . and burn myself out before hand!

    • says

      Austria is amazing!! I’ve been three times and ran every time. The air is so clean and the views are gorgeous and it’s worth freezing for :). Zell am See is my favorite place in the world. Have fun!!

  2. says

    I need 2 days when I’m training! I can ever do the 6-day programs :) I’d rather run more on the 5 days to get my miles in and get one more day to sleep in! It’s been awesome!

  3. says

    I try to run at least 4 days a week, and now I’m doing T25 five days a week, so there is usually one day at most per week that I totally rest. It’s hard with three kids and a business, but it’s about making time not finding time. I definitely don’t stress about it when we’re on vacation. China looked awesome!

  4. says

    I love reading all this research. I always wonder what happens when we take breaks and how are body really reacts. It was interesting to read about those who have trained a lot compared to those who are just starting out.
    I personally take off 1 day a week from all activity, I run 4 days a week (I am very prone to injury) and the other 2 days I am either doing biking, swimming or P90X.

  5. says

    I only run 4 days a week but I take one full rest day and do some other form of cardio/ strength on the other two days. It seems to be working so far! Also after that solid 6 miles today it looks like you definitely didn’t lose any speed, I’m sure 9 days off is totally fine.

  6. says

    I normally take 1-2 rest days per week, but if it ends up being more, I don’t beat myself up about it. I try not to go more than 3 days without working out unless there’s some outside factor, such as illness or having too much fun.

  7. says

    I take 1 rest day a week. I mix it up with running, strength and yoga so 1 rest day usually does the trick. Even on rest days though I try to get in a little movement like a walk. It just makes me feel calmer.

  8. says

    I take about 2 or 3 days off from running each week, but I don’t necessarily rest completely. I might do yoga or weights… but once in a while, one of those days is completely off from everything.

  9. says

    I try to let my body be my guide now. I don’t take complete sit on my bum all day rest days very often, but I do switch up my run days now with a lot more cross training than a few years ago to stay injury free!
    Funny how sometimes breaking all the good food rules make for great runs :)

  10. Sarah says

    Coming back after a week or two off is more of a mental challenge for me. I psyche myself out, convinced that I’ve lost fitness, that I am behind on my training… I swear, running is at least 75% mental for me.

  11. says

    I don’t run nearly half that, about 18miles a week right now and take two rest days from running. I don’t log any miles, but hit a cardio class of some sort or elliptical or something. I make myself get a solid workout one way or another 6days/week. One day is completely relaxed, but I’m running around doing errands and keeping up with the kids.

  12. says

    Hi Monica,
    After having cought a cold recently and not being able to run for over a week, I feel relieved reading this. I could even live with losing 0.6% of my fitness after a one week break. Though it feld like more after the first run back … but it might just have been the fact that I hadn’t had 100% recovered.
    Regarding resting days, I thni kthat 1 days without any sports per week is absolutely reasonable, at least for non-professional athleses. I usually run 5 days a week, completed by some yoga and ballet.
    Enjoy your time in China,

  13. says

    I heard that it was around 2-3 weeks before your fitness started to disappear. I tend to take 1-2 rest days a week and then every so often I take a week off (normally because I’ve been forced to – going away, injury, working late, etc) but I feel so rejuvenated when I return!

  14. says

    I take anywhere from 1-3 rest days a week, with two being my average. If I’m not feeling it or something’s feeling a bit funny, I listen to my body. It’s sometimes hard to figure out on the days I’m “not feeling it” if I could benefit from activity. I usually base it on whether it’s my body that’s not feeling it or my head. If it’s my head (as in mind), I go for it and am always glad I did. If it’s my body (tired, achy, etc.), I figure that it’s best to rest.

    Yes, I think taking two weeks off when you run the other 50 is just fine. :-)

  15. Kimberly says

    I usually take 2 days off a week. I randomly had a doughnut (which I hadn’t had in years) before a 10K and it turned out that it was the best pre-race fuel for me for that distance! :)

  16. says

    I typically run 3 times a week and do 2-3 cross training workouts – spinning, yoga, strength class. Sometimes I’ll fit in a few miles on the TM before classes if I’m there super early to get a bike or bench saved…Once it gets nicer outside, I’ll probably do 4 runs a week.

  17. Shannon in Tustin says

    I try to get out every-other day; no set number of rest days. But with a full time job and two very busy kids, I pretty much run whenever the schedule allows. Some days with all my infinite planning it just isn’t in the cards. They OWN my life and my schedule! Let’s be honest… 😐

  18. says

    1. YOU should not worry if your running wasn’t exactly “normal” on vacation! Vacation is about fully enjoying yourself and if you can run and enjoy then great! if not then you should not worry! Also rest does the body good (:

    2. During heavy training I have “easier” days and then a legs off day (heavy swim day). And then I take a day off before a taper and after races I will take a few days. During off season I try to do one day completely off a week.

  19. says

    Right now my work schedule is so all over the place that my rest days are really varied. Lately I’ve been taking 3 or 4 rest days depending on if I get out of work when there’s any daylight. I don’t like to run alone in my neighborhood after dark.

  20. says

    I take one scheduled rest day every week and sometimes I will take another morning or afternoon off depending on how I feel. (I typically do a shorter, intense morning workout and a longer afternoon workout.) My body needs the Sabbath rest that was given to us to enjoy. I also took nearly 2 weeks of almost complete rest at Christmas time with no guilt or regret. I now feel rested and rejuvenated and ready to run, ride, and race at my best.

  21. says

    Very interesting. I’ve wondered the same thing many times, however I think if you work out on a regular basis then the fitness level you lose (whatever 0.6% means), you gain back relatively quickly afterwards.. it’s not like going back to when you started to work out.
    I took a month off running because of an injury about 6 months ago, and I didn’t feel any difference in my fitness when I started again. I did do it gradually (I was afraid I wasn’t completely recovered from the injury), and was running back to normal within a few workouts.

  22. Kristina says

    I can’t believe there’s someone whose real name is Jack Daniels. That’s awesome.

    I also can’t believe I’m the first person to comment on that.

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