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How to RAPIDLY, Significantly, Improve Your Running Fitness in Just One Week

If you're an avid member of the Running Fit Fam...

then you already know.

There are no "hacks" here. ;)

And if you're new: WELCOME!

I promise: no gimmicky titles here.

(And, NO, I'm NOT going to try and sell you a sea moss recovery supplement or whatever recovery nonsense is floating around these days.)

THE ANSWER to improving your running fitness: a down or deload week.

Let's dive in.

This week's blog/video will look a little different

But consider this a rapid-fire, all-inclusive guide to what a Down week or De-load Week is and why you NEED it as a runner.


If you've ever followed a half or a full marathon plan, go grab it now.

Look at two things: total mileage each week and overall intensity

(basically how hard are the speed workouts + hills workouts and how many any are there each week.)

Do you notice a dip or a decrease in either of these in regular intervals of 4 weeks?

Those weeks where you see either a decrease in total mileage and/or a fewer/easier speed or hill workouts are your DELOAD weeks!


Have you ever made the mistake of trying to run every run hard and fast?

(yea, me neither; I'm perfect. I would never make that mistake....for years lol)

We find out the hard way when we constantly try to run hard,...that we break.

Get injured.

Are forced to rest.

and probably repeat this cycle.

A deload week is a planned, structured, decrease in training intensity or volume that helps us recover better so we can push harder without getting hurt.

Planned deload weeks help improve your running fitness but helping you harvest fitness.

You're maintaining running fitness by continuing to run (and lift), but the drop provides

extra recovery time, giving your body a chance to "catch up on repairs" and prevent injuries!


Short answer:
  • you plan out this week for every 4 to 6 weeks or whatever works best for your training plan/life/mental health

  • and you drop everything roughly by 20% or 50% depending on the purpose of the deload week

  • * this can vary by runner, history of injury, purpose of training or if you're tapering!

Long answer:
  • For mileage/running: I've seen some coaches only cut the intensity part back to 75% and that accounts for enough of a decrease in mileage. If you have a running coach you're actively working with: ASK THEM and make a plan together for what's best for your current running goals!

*For strength: it's popular to keep intensity the same (meaning how heavy you're lifting) and to cut back on volume (read: reps).

  • Example: instead of 3 sets of 8 reps at 100#'s for a back squat, you would instead, to 3 sets of 6 at 100#. ( a decrease in reps by 75%, but no change in intensity)

  • But for some runners I strength coach, I keep it easy and cut their weight to 50% but keep the same reps when they're feeling sore and banged up from heavy lifting and hard running workouts. It's all about what YOU need!


We've hinted at it throughout these questions, but lets make it clear now...

Taking a down week helps improve your running fitness in one week's time because it gives you:

  • extra recovery time for your body to "make repairs"

  • which in turn helps keep you injury-free

  • helps you harvest fitness by entering a "active recovery week"

  • can also help mentally, by giving you a type of break

  • can open up time and energy reserves to fit in prehab/mobility/ old PT exercises that you know you should be doing ;)


Putting it all together:

Think of these points like pulling back a sling shot.

You're primed, rested, and recovered and ready to hit training hard the following week.

You're giving yourself the gift of time; a spring board to give yourself a head start on tackling new running and fitness gains, just by cutting back 25% every 4 or 6 weeks!

And the reason I'm talking about this NOW in the summer:

a lot of people have vacations planned.

If you're a runner who loves to explore where you're at by running, go for it! Your kind of deload week could look like fun, scenic miles rather than strict tempo runs.

But don't feel like you have to do it this way.

You can also choose to leave the running shoes at home for a week.

And you just might be surprised at how good you feel when you get back ;)

Until next time running fit fam,

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

P.S. Looking for ways to strength train this summer so you don't break and get injured for fall races? Check out my FREE 14 Day STRONGER RUNNER challenge, 2 weeks worth of strength workouts designed specifically for runners with busy schedules.

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