One of the most common training errors I see is the lack of cut back weeks. Sometimes I hear “Won’t I lose fitness?”. Absolutely not. Cut back weeks are a critical part of every training cycle.
How to incorporate cut back weeks
Athletes should have roughly 1 week with a 20-30% reduction in mileage every month. If you are running 50 miles per week, you should cut back to 35-40 miles per week. Along with a cut back week, should be a cut back long run. If you are at the level of running 90+ min long runs, I recommend cutting back the long run to less than 90 min at a minimum of 1 time per week.
Benefits of Cut Back Weeks
💥Allows glycogen storage to restore.
When you run for over 90 min, your glycogen storage start to get used. You don’t want to run out of this glycogen stuff. Why? Because once your glycogen stores have run out, your body begins to break down muscle proteins to provide energy and to maintain blood sugar levels. This means your body will break down your muscles to keep you running. This is not how we want to train our bodies. We want our bodies to fuel off fat and glycogen. When you allow these glycogen storages to restore, you get to keep your muscle and your body has the proper fuel to keep running 🙂
💥Reduces risk of overuse injuries.
Most injuries in running happen because of under-recovery. Many athletes do 2 workouts per week with a long run on the weekend. This is A LOT to ask of your body. When there is not adequate recovery time, fatigue starts to build and build. When fatigue compounds on top of additional fatigue, it can lead to chronic fatigue or scar tissue build up. Most injuries in running occur because there is not enough time for your body to recover. You want to take a cut back week BEFORE you feel like you ‘need’ one. This will allow you to stay fresh and completely avoid the pesky injuries or flare ups.
When you cut down the mileage, your body is not as ‘stressed’, so it allows muscles, nerves, bones and connective a chance to repair from the building weeks. This process only takes place to this when the body has a decrease in stress.
💥Reduces mental and physical burn out by giving your immune system a chance to rest from the constant repair activities.
Let’s face it, running can be hard! When we grind too hard for too long, we can get to a place where running becomes too much of a ‘routine’. We lose our fire for the sport. This is something we can to avoid. By placing a cut back week in training, we are switching up the daily routine, and we are creating a desire mentally to get back out there and a desire to run more. It’s like the only saying, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
When your body is training, it creates micro tears in the muscles which creates a small an inflammation response. This inflammation response requires your immune system to go in and repair the damage. When you have too much stress on the body, it takes a toll on your immune system. This is why if you are sick, it is important to take a break from training and allow your body’s immune system to take care of the illness instead of the muscle inflammation. By training through sickness, you are putting your immune system working on overtime!
💥Allows body to have better sleep cycles by brining your resting HR and adrenaline levels down.
When in a build period, your body is actually going through a period of ‘stress’. As a reaction to this stress, sometimes the body produces adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones can lead to interrupted sleep cycles. When we decrease the stress load, we allow our body a chance to destress and relax. This is important in training because it keeps our stress levels under control which will lead to better sleep cycles
I hope you enjoy these tips. Yes, I am giving you permission to give your body a break once a month. You deserve it!