Running Burnout.

Let’s talk about the B-word. No…not that one. Running Burnout.

Burnout. We all go through burnout, whether it’s a running burnout, life, or something else. For instance, towards the end of living in New Jersey, I was feeling stale. Doing the same things every day. I didn’t realize it, but I was probably burned out with running too.

Then I got injured with running. Then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. Then I moved across the country. Needless to say, 2021 is not really where I thought I would be.

Running Burnout

Anyway, this blog is about running burnout.

How do you know if you have running burnout? How can you “beat running burnout”?

A few years ago, I found myself overcooked with running. I kept telling myself I would get better at running. Fight through all of those days I didn’t want to run. The next great race was “just around the corner.” It never was, and I found myself getting slower and more miserable. Finally, at the April Fools Half Marathon in 2017, I decided I was done. I crossed the finish line with a disappointing race and then took nearly four months off. Realistically, I should have taken time off before then, and it probably wouldn’t have led to a big running burnout.

So How Can You Tell If You are Developing a Running Burnout?

What does the term burnout even mean?

Burnout isn’t limited to running. Many of us are currently feeling burnout with the pandemic. We have been doing this for almost a year with no end in sight. My good friend Jen put it well in her newsletter. You can be burned out with work or anything, really. This list is more tailored towards running burnout, but you can ask yourself most of these same questions for any burnout.

Finally, keep in mind I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t a list to diagnose you.

Here are a Few Signs of a Running Burnout:

  • Performance Drops: Do you find yourself getting slower but working harder? It’s a tough realization to come to, but it is one of the best ways to determine you are overcooked.
  • You Don’t Enjoy It: No one loves running 100% of the time, but if you find yourself disliking running time and time again, you might be on your way to a running burnout. My personal rule is if I find myself not wanting to run 3 days in a row, I take a day off. If I need more, I take more until I wake up and say I want to run again. This is just loose and my own rule for myself. Obviously, when it’s 33 degrees and pouring rain, who really wants to go out?
  • Sleepless Nights: Have you found yourself unable to turn off and just relax? Lay in bed tossing and turning for a hobby like running?
  • You’re Moody: Your body does not know paces in running, but it does know stress. Stress is stress, and running burnout can start to affect other parts of your life. It can begin to affect your mood, friendships, and personal relationships. If you find yourself getting angry or losing your temper more often, you could be on your way to a running burnout or another type of burnout.

How Can You Beat a Running Burnout:

This is not the answer most people want to hear, believe me, but to beat a running burnout; you need to take a step back and take a break. If you continue to pound yourself into the ground, it will only get worse. Instead of a running burnout, you might find yourself injured.

Try something new. Do something you thought you might never do. Try a new workout. Try a new hobby or sport. Don’t take yourself seriously. Who knows, you might fall in love with it. My running burnout in 2017 was what got me back into the pool after nearly a decade. I never thought I would get back into the pool to swim laps, but I found I really enjoy it.

You can even change where and how you run. If you’ve always trained for a road marathon, train for a trail race. Or train for something running related you never have: a 5k, a spartan, or triathlon. Or completely change your training, so you have nothing to compare yourself to. Chances are most of us are going to want an outlet without running, so try something new as your workout outlet.

Come Back When You are Ready: Start running again when you WANT to. You want to find joy in the sport you once loved. The key to beating a running burnout is enjoying the sport again.

Beating Your Running Burnout Conclusion:

Change something: anything! Change is what is going to help you find joy in the sport again. Burnouts and running burnouts come from doing the same thing time and time again. With change, you can beat a running burnout. You will probably need time off (and that’s ok, you’ll come back stronger). Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know, and you might find a completely new hobby you enjoy just as much as running!

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Questions for you:

Have you ever had a running burnout?

How do you beat a running burnout?