Ask any long-time runner how they manage maintain a regular and diligent workout schedule without losing motivation, and most will admit to experiencing some degree of burnout at one point or another. Make no mistake, running is a great way to stay in shape, lose weight, and improve your overall health. But it can also be an incredibly demanding form of exercise that can take its toll both mentally and physically. When extreme fatigue and lethargy begins to set in it can result in runner’s burnout, which can sometimes take weeks or even months to shake.
If you’ve found yourself lacking the motivation to lace up your running shoes lately, or can’t seem to summon up the enthusiasm needed to head out for a run, than perhaps you’re experiencing a bit of burnout yourself. Here are some simple ways to get your groove back, and run with strength and conviction once again.
Change It Up!
Let’s face it, runners are definitely creatures of habit. We usually run the same set of routes, maintain a set workout routine, and often even go for a run at the exact same time each day. Sticking to a regimented schedule is typically a good thing when it comes to exercise, but it can also lead to boredom and a lack of enthusiasm. When that happens, almost anyone will start to feel burnt out.
Add a little spice to your personal running routine by mixing in some different routes in a new part of town. Better yet, get off the road altogether and run a trail in a nearby park instead. Don’t be afraid to shift the time of day that you run as well, as you may find it gives you a completely fresh perspective on the world around you. The point is, if you change up your stale routine, you may find yourself more engaged with your running workouts once again.
Leave the Watch at Home
Many runners wear watches that keep track of their pace, heart rate, and distance covered. That data can be vitally important when training for a race, but crunching those numbers can become an all-consuming obsession at times too. We all want to beat our fastest times, and as a result we end up pushing ourselves harder than we need to.
Give yourself a break from the hardcore training and leave the watch at home on occasion. This will allow you to run a natural pace without constantly watching your time and distance. It may also remind you of why you fell in love with the sport in the first place, because when you’re off the clock the pure joy of running can return.
Sometimes runners stay motivated out of the irrational fear that if they take time off, they’ll start to gain weight or lose some of the level of fitness that they worked so hard to achieve. Cross training can help alleviate those issues, while still allowing us to take a break from running at the same time.
They say variety is the spice of life, and by simply adding a bit of cycling, swimming, yoga, or other exercises to your routine you’ll manage to break up the monotony that comes with running on a constant basis. This change in activities can help stave off burnout quite nicely, and you may even find that when you do start to run again, it will be with a renewed sense of zest as well.
Take a Rest Day… or Week!
No matter how hard you train, each and every one of us should be taking a rest day or two during our normal weekly workout schedule. Not only do those days off give you a break from the grind, they also allow nagging injuries to heal and give you a chance to recharge your batteries too.
But on occasion it is also okay to take a rest week. That isn’t to say that you don’t exercise at all during that time period, just that you step away from the running schedule and do other things instead. Use the time off to revitalize the legs and get a boost to your spirit. Relax, take it easy, and savor some down time. Chances are you’ve earned it, and you’re likely to return to your normal schedule with renewed vigor.
Perhaps the most important step in avoiding burnout is to learning to recognize the warning signs ahead of time. That way you can take steps to avoid it before it become a significant problem. But if you do start to feel those feelings coming on, recognize that it is a common problem for runners. Don’t be afraid to relax, step away from workout routine, and get some rest. Chances are it will help you get your mojo back, and you’ll be eager to start running again soon.