Relax. We’re not going to scare you by suggesting that your feet will fall off if you take a 30-day running hiatus. Nor are we implying that you’ll become so weak, tiny space aliens will whisk you to a far distant planet where non-runners live out their days!
All joking aside, it’s no laughing matter when a runner stops for a short amount of time that escalates to 30 days. To understand what can happen to your world if you take a long break, we’ve come up with a list of 10 consequences, each of which may be enough to deter you from considering a month-long break.
1. Your Weight May Increase.
Does it take 30 days for pounds to pile on? Sadly, no. Your body is like the cranky history teacher you survived: she came down hard when you didn’t do your homework. Well, your body doesn’t like it when you’ve been treating it nicely by taking it out for healthy runs that boost your metabolism and keep it nicely toned and then bring that healthy lifestyle to an abrupt end.
Weight gain may be the first thing you notice, so we hope you kept the elastic-waist pants you relied on before your running rituals made you so proud of your body, you even liked to show it off.
2. You May Get Depressed.
Those healthy boosts of endorphins and perpetual feelings of optimism that flood your mind when you run will likely disappear by the time 30 days have passed. Depression borne of inactivity can sink your spirits even deeper into the mire if you’re spending the time you once allocated to running on activities that don’t require you to move far from your couch.
Do we see pizza boxes on a table nearby? Depression tends to trigger revisiting old eating habits, and nothing sets up a cycle of despair like the sugary and fat-laden foods that you’ve avoided to keep your system healthy on and off the jogging path.
3. You Could Get Constipated.
Not a pleasant subject, but toxins that build up in the body as a direct result of not exercising and following a sensible eating plan have the potential to make you really sick if you don’t do anything about your clogged up gastrointestinal system.
Remember that every time you kept pace with your running activities, you sent a signal to your intestines that oxygenated blood is going to be pumping through your system and this puts lots of your body parts on high alert, from your liver and your pancreas to your brain.
4. Your Psychological Stamina Can Become Impaired.
In less pedantic terms, if you stop running for a single day, it gets harder to slide on your running duds and run your course on day two. Skip a couple of days, and you may find yourself making up some terribly clever excuses for skipping out on another running commitment because there’s something about re-starting a habit — no matter how long you’ve had it — that compounds as days pass.
By day 30, you may have subconsciously built a psychological wall that could feel insurmountable. Welcome to the person you were ages ago — before you discovered the benefits of running!
5. You Probably Won’t Like Yourself Much.
This is a sad turn of events because it’s not like you can leave yourself somewhere and come back to reclaim a kindlier view of yourself. Not liking yourself can have some sad and dreadful consequences because there’s nothing worse than self-loathing.
You’ve let yourself down big time after watching that calendar tick down 30 days, and what’s so scary about this for many runners is that they had no intention of taking this self-imposed running break this long, but it just “happened.”
6. Your Physical Stamina Can Take a Hit.
You look in the mirror as you get ready for work and run through your latest excuses for not running, perhaps giving yourself a metaphorical pat on the back for being so very clever. You sprint for your bus because you’re running late, but strangely, you realize that you’re having trouble catching your breath.
Further, your calves ache a bit and your heart feels like it’s about to exit your chest and head in the direction of the UFO we mentioned earlier. If you’re lucky, your little mini-jog to catch that bus wasn’t witnessed by a fit friend, because if she knew that you’ve stopped running for an extended length of time, you may never hear the end of it!
7. Your Metabolic System May Suffer.
It only takes about 10 days of inactivity for a human body to start to show signs of poor oxygen use, a lower pain threshold and a noticeable slowdown of structural systems like muscles and neuromuscular coordination. The only good news here is that beginning runners lose fitness attributes at a faster rate because they haven’t had time to build reserves, thus if you’re a veteran runner, your physical decline will be slightly slower.
At two weeks, the average runner will find his VO2 max has dropped 19-percent and by 11 weeks, that number can reach 25.7-percent of your peak physical fitness. Not sure how this VO2 thing works? It stands for the maximum amount of oxygen volume an athlete can use based on body weight.
8. Your Timing Could Suffer, Too.
Let’s say you run a 5km in a respectable 20 minutes before you turn into a slug. After two weeks of steering clear of all running activities, your time is probably going to be an estimated 21 minutes to cover the same distance.
Skip nine weeks and it will take you 24 minutes to do the 5km. Make that time a shocking 25:30 by week 11. We would continue to do the math for you, but we don’t want to help you wallow in your own misery any more than you’re probably already doing.
9. Your Structural System Can Decline.
You could suffer muscle power loss and experience coordination issues, because in the opinion of experts studying inactivity in formerly active runners, while fast recovery is possible in the two weeks following running cessation, after 30-days, dramatic changes to the body occur.
Between days 14 and 30, blood volume decreases from five to 10-percent, heart rates increase by five to 10-percent, flexibility and lactate thresholds decline, muscle glycogen levels can drop from 20- to 30-percent and your bones may even lose density.
10. Your social ties could be broken.
If your body experiences a 30-day running hiatus, you have essentially returned it to the state it was in before you took up the sport and it’s going to be physically painful to begin anew. But the beating your body takes may pale in comparison to the impact that 30 day period may have on your social life.
How often do you hang with other runners — to condition, train, share marathon gossip, enjoy running club activities or socialize? If your world is filled with running colleagues, buddies and friends who populate all aspects of your life, losing friends could be the most painful of the 10 outcomes on this list.
Have you ever stopped running for an extended period of time? What finally motivated you to get back on your feet and into your running shoes again?