First Post-Vacation Run? It Was Not Pretty.

I ran for the first time in two weeks last night.

Most of my recent runs left me feeling something like this:

Last night’s run, however, left me feeling like this: 

As you may or may not know, I was on vacation last week. Which meant the most strenuous physical activity I engaged in all week was one of the following: daily walks along the coast, wrestling chairs and bags from the condo to the beach and back, or, in the case of our last two days on the beach, fighting against the wind to keep as I attempted to fold up my chair (which is essentially a yoga mat with a bar attached to the back of it … aka the best beach chair EVER … except when it’s windy).

I’ve been back in town for a few days, and Tuesday was my third post-vacation workout, so I had high aspirations for my run, as I’ve been steadily knocking off a few seconds from my mile average time. Granted, I’m well aware that the first week back from vacation usually gravitates somewhere between mediocre and awful. It’s the nature of the body. The fact is, it only takes a week for your body to start moving backward. Muscles start to atrophy. Your cardiac capacity lowers. You may start to feel a little more “squishy.” And what felt good a week ago makes you feel like you’re going to die.

Still don’t think one week (okay, it was really 9 days) makes a huge difference? Here’s the proof. My last run before I left was just under 7 miles in 60 minutes, no walking until cooldown time, heart rate averaging in the 82-88% range. My run last night? Just under 6.25 miles in 60 minutes, with four one-minute walk breaks … which I forced myself to take upon finding my heart rate in the 92-94% range.

Recovery weeks are great. We all need one once in a while. But don’t expect to see the gains from the full recovery and time off right away – give it a week or two, and then you’ll start to see improvements upon where you were before your time off.