Runner’s Burnout

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I have a confession. I think I am suffering from a case of long distance runner’s burnout. I have been on a training plan since July/August. That’s a LONG time to have a schedule dictate when and how much you run, in my opinion. Lately I have dreaded running, especially anything longer than three miles. In January, I was so pumped up and ready to run my first marathon, but when it was over I did not experience the “post marathon blues” everyone seems to talk about. At the time I wasn’t really sure why this was…but now I am pretty certain it was because my body has been SCREAMING for a break, in more ways than one.

1.) Let’s face it, I am not at full health. Between my hip and IT band, I could use a break from distance running.

2.) I understand it’s ok to not ALWAYS want to go on your run, but to not EVER want to go on your run, well I think that’s a problem!

3.) There is a lot of stress/craziness in my life at this moment, and when I run I can’t seem to focus, because all I think about is my stress and all the things I need to do/should be doing instead.

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I know deep down I enjoy the half marathon distance, but I also really want to improve my speed. I have decided to focus on some 5k’s, then take about a month off of running probably in May or June to totally heal and get my desire to run back again. I hope to resume half training in August and run halfs again in the fall.

I have only been on this “plan” for a week and already I feel SO much better! Here are the things I have been doing/realizing and actually enjoying for a change, because I don’t feel the PRESSURE to have to run 4-5 times a week.

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1.) Cross training has become enjoyable. During marathon training, I did not cross train like I should have, because every time I worked out I felt like I had to run, mile on the miles, no time for anything else. I now realize this was a big mistake.  I realize cross training probably would have made me stronger and less prone to injury. Good job Heather. I am now enjoying doing the elliptical and going for walks with my family and my dogs. You know, while I can, before the brutal southern summer weather hits and I am forced indoors until September. (see northern peeps, we are forced inside due to weather, too!) I have also done a couple of workout videos that have made me realize I am NOT as in shape as I thought I was!

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2.) I am liking the challenge of strength training. It’s no secret I have avoided strength training in the past on purpose. I have always felt like it was a waste of time and I never saw any results.(my fault, I never stuck with it long enough to see any!) Well, let’s be honest…running WITHOUT strength training hasn’t worked out so good for me, so why not try a different approach? I really have enjoyed being sore, and feeling like I worked hard.

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3.)Taking care of my body has become very important to me. Well, it has always been important, but it seems that RUNNING was the most important, even if that made me neglect the rest of my body. Does that even make sense? In my head it does. maybe. I have been taking the time to stretch everyday, and do stabilizing exercises for my legs and hips. I want to be strong and healthy all over, not just “in running shape.”

I will always love running and want to run, and especially race, but I don’t want to neglect the rest of health or fitness anymore. I want my WHOLE body to be in shape and at it’s best, not just my legs. the best part is…yesterday I WANTED to go on a short run, because I didn’t HAVE to go run. I think that is the way it’s supposed to be, at least most of the time. I need to get that desire back for long runs, and I think my plan will do the trick!  Help keep me accountable as I venture into this new territory. It’s scary to me but exciting!!

QOTD: Have you ever been burnt out from running? Been on a training plan too long? How did you combat this problem?

Comments

  1. I burned out from running 6 days x 60 minutes for YEARS. Totally unhealthy in so many ways, but it really made me dislike running and need a break. Take care of yourself!

  2. I think I’m burnt out from running now, so your post came at a great time!! I ran a half in January and then a 5K, and I think I was training for too long for the half (I trained for a 5K and 10K before it). A few weeks ago, there were a few days I just DID NOT want to run. I was about to sign up for a 10 miler and be on a training plan for that too, until I realized… it’s just not worth it.

    None of us are getting paid to run- we’re doing it because it’s fun. So if it’s not fun… I’m with you, STOP. Cross training, workout classes, weights… are all really great ways to exercise. Running is just one way. So…. I started doing yoga more and lifting, and just running outside occasionally. I know it’ll be there for me when I go back, but I think a break is definitely nice :).

  3. I think it’s great that you are listening to your body and taking a break. I try to vary it up so I don’t get burn out but with my knee injury I’ve really been trying to slow down and listen to my body, too. Your plan sounds like a good one and I think incorporating strength is a good idea. I know my tendonitis in my knee was diagnosed due to my weak hips and I’ve benefitted a lot from the hip flexor strengthening exercises I’ve been doing.

  4. I agree! You need to keep the fun in it. I think your plan is great

  5. I feel like I’m always following a training plan, but I actually like it. I change the plan’s intensity and focus as I see fit, but I work best with a goal in mind. That being said, I think it’s really important to give your body a break when it needs one. This training cycle, I’ve only been running 3 days and week and cross training much more. Even with lower mileage, I feel good. Enjoy all the cross training fun!

    • I am normally a very planned out person, but something about this time just sin’t the same, and I feel like I just need to not *have* to run for awhile. I think its all the other stuff going on in my life right now. Hopefully the desire will come back!

  6. Wow, first off congratulations. Seriously. I love reading blogs and meeting/talking to other runners but some runners drive me nuts bc they are obviously in runner burnout phase but in complete denial. Good for you for identifying it, accepting it and addressing it!!! You really are such a smart runner and eventho you are having difficulties right now, that smartness is going to have you back good as new come fall. That’s great, Heather! Now, to get more people thinking like you!! :-)
    I think a lot of ppl feel like they have to run a marathon to be considered a worthy/good runner. I think a good/worthy runner is someone who is well-rounded, enjoys running, listens to their body and who takes care of themself!
    What works for me is keeping a base. I started running as a kid and literally could not run more than a half mile when I first started. I have slowly built up my base for the last 14 years and now I just maintain it. I take one month off every year (july) but I still keep my base. That way when its time to start training for a marathon again it’s easier for my body to get back to where it was. Training definitely gets easier as you go!! Time is definitely your friend when it comes to running!!!!!!
    Keep up the good work!!! :-D

    • thanks so much for the encouragement! I appreciate it. I def am worried about losing my base and having to start over, that really stresses me out b/c I worked so hard to get where I am! I am def not in denial. I am burnt out!

      • Hi again, I know that the possibilty/worry of losing your base and having to start over again seems really discouraging but from an injury perspective it could really be a blessing in disguise!! When I have friends who are plauged with injury my advice to them is usually to start over (with the running only!!) Reintroduce it. Keep up the cross training and lifting, but start over with the running. Start with 1 mile and then stop, then the next week make ur longest run 1.5 miles etc etc. It will feel easy and effortless bc u r still in shape! You’re keeping in shape so you have nothing to worry about! Even if u stop running ur cardio and strength will still be there!!

  7. Definitely take a break! your body needs it! You can still get exercise in other ways! Walking, biking, elliptical, exercise classes, ZUMBA!

  8. I got burned out about 3/4 of the way through marathon training for Disney. I think my program was waaaay too long. I was just so excited to get started that I was a little overzealous and stretched my training out probably a month too long. The high of finishing my first marathon and the improvement in the weather in NC has made me love running again. I’m excited about running now.

  9. I’m so glad you are finding a way to make fitness more fun! I hate when I’m in a running rut! I always turn to my friends and run with them because it seems to make it more fun because we can hang out and run. I don’t even remember the running part!

  10. I burned out really bad for my marathon training – I got to the point that I hated running, it was a chore and I didn’t like doing it! Because of this I started slacking with my training and my first marathon was less than stellar. I have plans for a “redemption marathon” but I am waiting until I know that I am in a position that I will have to time to dedicate to running, crosstraining and lifting – to keep myself sane and to help with my running in general.

    So I completely agree with you and your three points – sometimes it is hard to look beyond the running part of a long distance race, but there is a lot too it!

    • your right there is so much more to it!
      the same thing happened at the end of my training. I just didn’t care anymore so my training runs were slow and so was my race ha!

  11. For years, I thought running was the only way. I would try to run through any and all types of pain. If I couldn’t run for a few days, I was miserable…so afraid that I would gain a pound or two if I couldn’t run. For the past few months, I have really been paying attention to my body. Running when my legs/hips/knees feel good; and cross training when they don’t. With strength training mixed in 3X a week for good measure, I have never felt better. Good luck to you!!!

  12. I followed a training plan from November ’09 – October ’10, so I totally know how you feel. I took 2 months off and felt so much better. And it is great you are focusing on cross-training and lifting

  13. I really need to start working on both #1 and #2. Where did you get your elliptical (brand/model#) and do you like it? Also what are you doing for strength training? I finished a half marathon in Oct, never been so proud of myself in my life and now can’t find the motivation to start running again. Really enjoy your blog and your house is looking AMAZING!!

    • The elliptical is a Precor EFX 5.23 It’s very smooth and I like it! its several years old but still in good shape.
      for strength, I have some 5, 8, and 10 lb weights and a kettlebell. I find workout videos online and usually do those for arms and abs. I also do a lot of squats and lunges. exercise TV has a lot of good stuff!

  14. Loooove that you posted about this!!!!! I have def felt times where I didn’t feel like going on a run, and I don’t…and you know what? The next time I want to go out on a run, it always feels sooo amazing!!! PS. I’ve been strength training seriously for about a year now, and I have noticed SUCH a positive change in my body!!! I have gained muscle in places I didn’t even know I could, and I love it! I lift after work every day and always look forward to it :)

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