Muscle Memory March 27 2016

When I am training people for races – 5Ks to Half and Full Marathons – this is a worry I often hear: “I have not walked / run / trained for weeks / months / years.  What if my body doesn’t remember how to do this?”  Thanks to a little thing called “Muscle Memory”, with proper training, you’ll be back in the groove faster than you expect.  Here’s why.

Muscle memory is created when a movement or action is repeated time after time, and that repetition creates a memory that is stored in your brain.  If that sounds confusing, try this – when you are little, you learn how to walk by standing up and attempting to take one unsteady step after another… and another.  Soon, you don’t have to think about how to move your left foot, then your right, all while staying upright – your body just does it without any conscious effort.  That is muscle memory.

So, the thinking is that if you train your body to run farther and faster, then take some time off, all of that fitness gain is not lost.  That blueprint stored in your brain will remind you that you were able to do this once and will be able to do it again.  That is not to say that, after taking a year off from running that you can immediately complete a marathon – you will still need to train, taking it slowly at first – but you will get back to where you were faster than you did when you first learned to run.