The question all runners want an answer is: “how long will it be before I see the benefits from my workout?” Unfortunately, like most aspects of running and training, there isn’t a quick and easy answer.
Most experienced runners have heard that it takes 10 days to realize the benefits of a workout. While I agree that this is a good rule of thumb to follow, especially during the taper phase of a training plan, it’s not a very accurate measurement of how your body responds and adapts to a myriad of different training factors.
For example, the exact rate your body absorbs and responds to a workout is going to be influenced by the type of work out, the intensity, your recovery protocol, and your body’s own rate of adaptation.
However, while there is no universal and simple answer to this question, if we take the time to breakdown all the factors that affect work out absorption, you can extrapolate a fairly accurate estimation of how long it will take to benefit from each type of workout on your training schedule.
If for an example you run long runs, your goal is to build up your aerobic system so you don’t often “feel” the benefit from them right away. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to notice changes in your aerobic ability and for the actual training effect being felt. Likewise, the more experienced you are, the less you will “feel” the benefits from the long run since your aerobic system is already quite developed.
Let me give you a quick and easy chart that breaks down the general timeframe it takes to realize the benefits from different particular workouts:
This table makes it easy to see why a general 10-day rule is applied but isn’t always an accurate assessment of when you’ll realize the benefits from a session.
The understanding of this principle is how your coach is able to accurately assign your workouts and when knows that it’s time to up the intensity. By knowing your current fitness, recovery rate, and running history, we can precisely predict when you’ll adapt to the training load and be ready for the next challenge.