You take less than a month off from running, to go trekking in the mountains, and then you come back and you are a total ZERO.
That was the reality check awaiting me this hot & humid Delhi morning, when I re-joined my ASICS Running Club mates after a break.
I know I’m still tired from the trek, which took more out of me than I had bargained for, but I honestly didn’t expect to feel so winded, so exhausted, so headache-y, after what isn’t actually that big a break.
The lovely lady who gives me massages told me today that I have a low grade fever that she can “feel” when she massages me, so perhaps I’ll use that as an excuse for a shockingly wimpish performance this morning.
We did intervals this morning, and even though I was in the slowest group, I still had to skip a couple of them, because I was feeling borderline nauseous (I blame it all on that fever I didn’t know I had 😛 )
I’d heard of muscle memory, so I kinda thought that meant that my body would automatically snap back into running mode. I mean I’m not injured, I didn’t spend the last 3 weeks lolling around, I was climbing a bloody great mountain, so being active, basically…but no.
Body had pretty much forgotten what running is all about.
So I decided I’d look into this whole muscle memory thing and see if I could make any sense of it.
If nothing else, it’ll give me a scapegoat for my lousy performance.
Since I am so far from being a scientist it’s not funny, I’m not going to try and explain the articles I’ve read.
I’d only make a hash of it, so let me share with you here the most useful articles I found, which explain simply, in words people like me can understand, what muscle memory actually is.
I found this article very useful – https://www.popsci.com/what-is-muscle-memory/
This article from Forbes.com is a fun read (no, truly!) and I love the idea of zombie agents at work 🙂
I read loads more, and it was interesting how the 2 sports referred to the most as benefiting from muscle memory are cycling and weight-lifting.
This succinct little piece from the Beeb is pretty straightforward – https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/is-muscle-memory-real/
So, where does this leave us?
Yes, theredoes appear to be something called muscle memory, though it is perhaps a misnomer:
How long does it last?
There does, thank goodness, appear to be a glimmer of hope for the likes of me:
I guess the fact that my poor old legs remembered how to run – albeit slowly – means some muscle memory was at work. So there’s that much to be grateful for, right?
Clearly the only way to regain lost form is…sigh…to work hard.
Go back to basics.
Build up strength and energy.
No shortcuts in other words, and no blaming muscle memory.