After you’ve trained so hard to get in the shape of your life for a big race, it’s always a tragedy to let that fitness slip away by taking a break from running. However, keep in mind that your muscles have memory. How can this help you?
You trained hard several years ago but then you stopped exercising regularly, making your fitness going away from you. However, remember that some of that fitness stays with you, lying dormant within your muscle cells and making it easier to regain fitness once you start exercising again, according to new research from Temple University.
As you get stronger and fitter, your muscle cells get bigger and develop extra nuclei. When you lose fitness, the muscle cells shrink again, but the extra nuclei stays, ready to respond to training. For endurance, the key cellular adaptation is an increase in mitochondria, the “powerhouses” that generate energy for muscle contractions.
Because the genes that regulate mitochondrial growth are located in the nuclei of muscle cells, extra nuclei allow you to increase your mitochondria levels more quickly than when you started exercising the first time.
So, don’t be afraid to take time to let your body rest and recover after a long training cycle, like the best Kenyan runners who famously take a month or more off after their track season ends. And if you have to miss time with an injury, don’t worry.
Always keep in mind that it’s easier to get back to top fitness than it was to get there in the first place.