Do you ever get burnt out from running?

Jessica Wagner

It’s easy to get burnt out from running and unlike the bad habits that we form, it’s easy to quit running cold turkey.  Even when you’ve been running for over ten years and have done dozens of races, running can still seem like a chore at times.  Trust me, I’ve been there. 

I can pinpoint three times in my life when I was seriously burnt out and didn’t have the time or energy to run on a regular basis.

  • My senior year of high school:  At that point I had been running cross country for six years (since 7th grade) and I was so bogged down with stress of school and Student Council and applying to colleges that my body literally didn’t have the energy to run.  One day I was at practice and my coach could tell I was struggling, so he picked me up in his car (that was maybe the only time I ever had to get picked up in six years) and I just started bawling and telling him about how stressed out I was.  He totally understood and let me take a few days off from practice, which helped a lot, but it wasn’t until the end of the season that I felt like I could really let out of sigh of relief.  After track season in the spring, I took a break from serious running.  Freshman year of college, I joined Temple’s swim club and only did one running race, the Broad Street Run that year.  Sophomore year, I tried to get out for runs more and would do different classes at the gym, but I definitely had to ease back into consistently running.  By the time junior year rolled around, I finally enjoyed running again and was training for the Philly marathon, along with several other races that year.
(Flashback Friday - cross country 2008...not the best quality photos back then)
  • When I moved to California:  Moving to California was challenging in many ways.  I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know anything about where I lived, and I was just starting a new, “grown-up” job.  The beach wasn’t easily accessible from where I lived and there weren’t many running groups in that area.  I ran on the same trail every time, I was always running alone, and I didn’t have any goals.  When I got my bonus at the end of the year, I decided to buy my first road bike, which allowed me to mix up my workouts.  It wasn’t until I moved to Long Beach about a year after I moved to California that I started training for races, though.  Thanks to triathlon training, discovering Hungry Runner Girl’s blog, and meeting new friends who were into endurance sports (like my friend Lydia), I finally got my running groove back.

(Before my first triathlon in California after not racing for over a year - I was just a little nervous 21-year-old, but after this I was hooked on tris.)

(Before the San Diego Marathon in March 2014, my second marathon ever and first marathon since 2011 - although the race was tough, I actually enjoyed training for it and remembered why I liked running so much.  I wanted to start running more often and improve my times.)

    • When I moved back from California:  Even before I moved back east, I had big plans to run the Washington, D.C. marathon in March 2015.  When I signed up, I thought I’d have an advantage training in the warmth and sunshine of California all winter.  Fast forward a couple months and I was living in Pennsylvania at the beginning of winter with months of marathon training ahead of me.  I had a serious training plan set and was determined to run D.C. in record-breaking (my own record, not world record) time.  There was one problem, though - I would either be training outside in 20-something degree weather or running on the treadmill every single day.  More often than not, I chose the treadmill.  But it was hard - I’d wake up and procrastinate until I couldn’t avoid running any longer.  I was living with my parents at the time, so my mom would subtly remind me that I needed to stop watching TV and get my butt on the treadmill.  I’d struggle through the miles and for the most part, wasn’t enjoying them.  I ran the marathon (not in record breaking time) and didn’t want to run again for a while.  I started running with Students Run Philly Style and did Broad Street Run in April only to not run over 10 miles again until the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September.  I had forced myself to run long, boring miles through the winter and they burned me out through the summer.  When the LV marathon rolled around, I couldn’t back out, so I did it, finally got that personal record I had been hoping for, but at the cost of injury.  Now for the past month and a half, I’ve been struggling with a tight IT band and haven’t been able to run outside of practice and races with my students.

    (Before the DC marathon in March)

    I follow several running bloggers who run every single day.  I’d love to be like that and there have been times when I’ve been that way, but for the most part, I don’t run every single day.  I’ll run with my students three times per week and try to run once or twice on my own.  When I seriously train for a big race or marathon, I’m usually more consistent.  Since mid September, though, I’ve been struggling to get out the door for a run on my own.

    It seems like these burnouts might line up with big life changes…who knew?  It sure makes sense, but that recognition didn’t make things any easier.  I’m just starting to ease back into running on my own.

    Here were/are a few things that make getting back into running easier:

    • Run with a friend.  When my friends text me to go running, I rarely say no.  That’s happened a few times since my last marathon, so at least I had a couple decent runs with them.  When Jon and I trained for the Philly marathon in 2011, we were running 3-4 times per week together.  That was the first time I had a consistent training partner since high school cross country and it was a revolutionary difference.
    (My last run with Jon, my life running partner)
    • Run shorter distances.  When I know I have to get a long run in, I take forever to get ready.  I change my outfit about ten times, worry that I forgot something, and keep coming up with reasons why I shouldn’t start my run.  When I plan shorter runs and know I won’t be gone for hours, however, it’s easy for me to just put on my running shoes and run out the door.
    • Mix up workouts.  In high school, I loved doing Pilates all the time.  Since then, I’ve struggled to keep up with my strength training and diversify my workouts.  It’s something that DEFINITELY helps with running, so if you can’t motivate yourself to run, at least get in some Pilates.  This is one of my favorite videos.
    • Have something to look forward to.  If I have a great playlist lined up or an interesting podcast to listen to while I’m running, I look forward to it and don’t mind the actual running part.  I give my playlist credit for getting me through the LV Marathon.

    (Podcast that I listened to yesterday)

      My point from all this (sorry for the long stories/rants) is to show you that we all get burnt out and it’s important to rest in-between races.  If you’re not motivated to run, try different activities for a while.  It’s okay to take a break from running.  The more you push yourself when you’re not enjoying something, the longer it’ll take you to recover and get back on the horse.  When you get injured, you need lots and lots of rest to heal, but we often forget about mental exhaustion.  Give yourself a break sometimes - just make sure you start again when you’re ready - slow and steady!

      I won't be doing my next race until November when I do the Philly Half Marathon with my students.  The races with my students are fun and I don't worry about time, so training doesn't stress me out.  But after that, I'm not signed up to do another race, the Philly Love Run (a half marathon through Philly), until April.  I'm looking forward to the break in training and will focus on strength training and doing shorter, faster training runs.  Running will always be a love/hate relationship, but it's worth taking the time to fall back in love with it.  Anyway, I think that's enough ranting for one day!

      On a lighter note, if you haven’t already seen on Instagram, Run Life Co. is having a GIVEAWAY!  You must enter on Instagram, so go here for details!

      Thanks for reading my stories!  Hope these tips help you get motivated.  Now go enjoy your Friday!

      • At least twice yearly I take a ~2 week period of rest, where I barely run at all. This typically happens after a big race. I find these do a great job of preventing any burn-out, since by the time that period ends I’m ITCHING to get back into training!

        Kyle @ SKORA

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