Don’t interrupt

What impact does a break in training have?


Photo Danny Bird

OK, this study is based on marathon runners but the implications for other endurance sportsters such as cyclists could be significant.

In a paper entitled ‘Estimating The Cost Of Training Disruptions On Marathon Performance’ published in the journal Frontiers In Sports And Active Living, researchers used Strava data to analyse more than 15 million activities performed by 292,323 runners who had each completed multiple marathons between 2014 and 2017.

Using the accepted wisdom that a marathon requires ‘12-16 weeks of consistent training’, researchers went looking for periods of ‘complete cessation’ in runners’ activity – training disruptions – in the 16 weeks leading up to race day, and analysed these in light of the runners’ finishing times.

Results showed that disruptions of two days or more were associated with at least a 2% increase in finishing time, while disruptions of seven days or more correlated with 5-8% increases.

Male finishing times were nearly twice as impacted as female, and faster runners (sub-four hours) experienced more dramatic time increases (5.4%) than slower runners (over four hours; 2.6%).

But perhaps most crucially, disruptions closer to race day were associated with a greater cost, with a three-week hiatus 3-7 weeks before race day correlating with a 10% increase in finish time, compared to a 6% increase if such a training break happened earlier.

Better think carefully about when to take your next summer holiday.

Cyclist Australia/NZ