My Running Burnout
To be honest, it’s taken longer to write this post about burnout than I anticipated. After the April Fools half marathon, I finished the race stale and not mentally there. I didn’t meet any of my goals for the training cycle or for the race. I also finished feeling miserable, burnt out, and not enjoying running.
So on the car ride home, I made the decision to take a break. I had lost interest in the sport, and it was no longer enjoyable to me. I was in a running rut and running burnout.
My running rut and running burnout was a burn out I have not experienced since swimming in college. If you haven’t read my blog for long, I swam competitively for almost 15 years, and it was a big part of my life. My college swimming burnout ultimately left me hating swimming, quitting my senior year of college and never looking back. Five years later, and very few people around know what a big deal swimming was to me. Heck, most people don’t know I’ve only been running since late college! There were plenty of warning sign and signs of a running burnout that led me to the decision.
That type of burnout isn’t where I want to go with running. So after deciding I needed a break from running, I realized my break would be more complicated than that. I work in a running store, I have a running focused blog and a lot of my friends run. So getting completely away from running has been moderately difficult. I don’t feel guilty for not running, we always have to do what’s best for us. If I continue to run, my running burnout won’t get any better.
I enjoy both blogging and working at the store, but I don’t have any interest to run right now. I don’t miss running, and I’ve been able to enjoy other things!
I knew my running burnout was strong when I was able to be at Broad Street watch friends cross the finish line and not wish I was running the race.
Or when I’m able to work at a Running store, surrounded by running and not be “jealous” of those lacing up their sneakers.
How Did the Running Burnout Happen?
As most people know last time around this year, I discovered I fractured a small bone in my ankle. To be honest, the recovery was painless. After rest, I recovered quickly. I resumed training in late summer and then continued to run. I wasn’t following a training plan or training for a marathon.
I’ve been running hard since October and never took a week or more break. In hindsight, I desperately needed that.
I ran what I consider my best race post injury, The Runners World Half Marathon (1:24.17) that following October. I felt on top of the world and like a PR was knocking at my front door.
After seeing many people’s success with Mckirdy Trained, I decided that I would also like to hire him as my coach. He gave me workouts, and I trained exactly what he wanted.
I was paying and committed to a coach, so there wasn’t a point to half-ass training. Either I was going to follow a coach or wasn’t. I did a lot of hard workouts, worked hard, but never saw results race day. My long runs and tempo runs always felt good but the results never came to fruition at big races.
That could be several reasons:
- The weather was bad at 75% of my goal races. Hail, pouring rain, windy, humidity of 90% (Pensacola Double Bridge 15k, Mercedes Half, Shamrock Half)
- My body just didn’t feel good on race day. (Both Atlantic City and the Philadelphia half marathon)
I had a good race at the Dalla Half Marathon in December and inched closer to my PR. Little did I know, it would be my last “fast” race as well as my favorite race in the training block.
My husband and I moved to Alabama in January and February, and I trained well during that time frame. I didn’t have a whole lot of commitments, so I had plenty of time to run.
While in Alabama, I never felt extremely good while running but never felt bad. This was the slow beginning that led to my running burnout. I ran 5 5ks in the 18:30-18:40 time frame but never broke through towards my PR. It didn’t matter the course, weather, or day I ran in the same 10-second window. The signs of weakness and physical and mental burnout began but I never saw noticed.
As I continued to train, I missed intervals that “I should be making”. Sometimes I would blame the humidity, sometimes that I was tired but whatever the reason, each workout took a mental toll. There were days even my easy runs felt challenging.
When I arrived at the Atlantic City half marathon, I didn’t feel fresh. I felt tired and physically and mentally not into it. I liked the race and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to run, but my heart wasn’t into it. Immediately when I started running the race, I knew it wasn’t my day. My heart rate was higher and I struggled to hold any pace. I ran about 5 minutes slower than I hoped. I didn’t feel good. I won the race last year but got third this year. Mentally that is hard. The race was put on well, and I always enjoy that aspect.
So Now What?
I’ve been relaxing as well as resetting my body and fixing all of the small aches and pain. I’m lucky Dr. Craig with Dr. Kemonosh has been so helpful. I want to start off the next training cycle fresh both mentally and physically.
I will run again, I’m not stepping away from running forever. I thought I would be over my running burnout in 2 weeks, but I’m not. After two weeks of rest, I am ready to get back into some sort of working out but not running. Even cross training has me feeling burnt out so I’m not doing that either.
I’m not a professional runner, and my bills are not paid through running. There is no point in running through a burnout. I’ve already experienced that with one sport!
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.
Questions for you:
Have you ever had a running burnout?
How do you move away from a disappointing training cycle?
Chatting with my good friend yesterday Noelle, who said time heals most things. That is definitely true and like a bad breakup, time away is the best healer.
I’ve definitely felt burned out, not so much with running (because I don’t actually run that much haha) but I’ve felt it with blogging. Sometimes I just have to give myself a few days or a few weeks off to recharge a little. I think it can kind of get overwhelming and then I feel pressure and then when you feel pressure it kind of sucks the fun out of it. I hope you’re able to have a nice restful break and return back to running when you’re ready!
I can relate to this so much, especially when you mention not being able to separate yourself from running completely. With doing a lot of running-related freelance work and blogging, it can be hard to take a total mental break from the sport when you really need it, and I think that can make the burnout last longer. You’re an amazing and talented runner but if it’s not fun, then it’s not worth it. I hope you take as much time as you need and come back refreshed!
I have definitely experienced this. You need to listen to your body but also your heart and mind. Sometimes changing up what you or doing or taking a break gives you what you need to get back into it. Enjoy your break and do more of what you love outside of running 🙂
I’ve experienced this too! I’m now more cautious to add in recovery weeks and extra days off to try to prevent burn out when I feel it coming on. I really respect that you’re taking so much time off and not forcing it. It will have a huge pay off when you come back!
Aw Hollie, Appreciate your honestly! I think it’s natural and normal to take some time off from running. You have innate talent, work hard and are young so it’s not going to hurt. Farmers set their fields to fallow every few years so they can gain back nutrients. Do you follow Tina Muir’s blog? She is taking time off too– partly for burnout and partly for other reasons. I do someimes feel burnout…but then I know it’s time for a rest — usually between seasons.
I don’t feel completely burnt out but after running two half marathons in the past two months (one of which was unbelievably hot and humid and miserable), I am planning to take a break from long distance running for the summer. I still plan to do some short runs (and try out some new running groups) but I am looking forward to doing more strength training, group fitness classes, and shaking things up!
I think that’s such a smart idea. We can’t run distance forever without getting burnt out.
I’m going through the same thing and this part spoke to me, “I’m not a professional runner, and my bills are not paid through running. There is no point in running through a burnout.” Even though I do the ambassador stuff, I don’t have to be running to fulfill those duties right now.
Oh Holly, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I burned out towards the end of my senior year of college, I ended up quitting running for two years. I didn’t do anything and it made me a little crazy. My burnout was mainly mental and partially physical, I think that’s why I was able to bounce back once I moved across the country. Take the time you need, get that recovery and decide when it’s right to come back. Thanks for sharing, I think more people need to read about how burnout happens and what to do if it hits.
I’m sorry to read you’re going through this rough patch of something you otherwise love! I normally read your blog to get motivation for my own running workouts, which have been honestly only been here and there in between everything else. But I also love races as part of my training routine, so a lot of your posts speak to me :). I can also relate with being burned out with a certain part of your life, although for me it was another sport, rowing. Taking a step back from that part is a good way to come back to it, I think. What also helped me, and luckily it was possible, was to do other sports that felt more like “fun” workouts to me, from weight lifting, body pump, cycling, running, swimming, to rock climbing, to keep my activity and fitness level without feeling bad because of the dreaded rowing workouts. Me and my coach also had to mix up my training routine once in a while to break through plateaus, although it’s hard and takes some experimenting to find the “right” approach that works for you. Good luck with your recovery and future goals!
I agree that finding things completely different from running is necessary to mentally get back in a good spot. I appreciate you stopping by Katha.
Yup. Have definitely gone through this. More than once. I have learned that for me, I need to recognize it, accept it and enjoy the time off…and just wait for the running motivation to pop its head up again. It’s a good reminder that running does not define who I am.
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