Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

How To Overcome Running Burnout in 2020

How to overcome running burnout is a question we all as runners have asked at one point or another in our careers. It is normal to feel depressed and fatigued at times in middle to long distance running. What we do is not always easy and it is helpful to have resources available to support us.

I recently created a video at the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel that I will attach below. My goal is to help motivate and encourage you. I've been right where you are at and have overcome. So, if I can so can you.

How can one stay motivated when results aren't coming? Is it really worth it to continue to put in the work when you don't see the fruits of your labor paying off? Well, I believe there is a reason for everything. There is a cause and effect for when things don't pan out in our favor.

Often times it is simply a few small changes that need to be made in our routine before we start to see significant changes occur.

How To Get Over Burnout From Running?

Take time off. Yes, self-explanatory and advice anyone can give. That being said, it is probably the most important thing you can do. It isn't worth giving up the sport you love just because you have a few poor performances or workouts.

I've been there and understand how you are feeling. A good, solid week or two away from the sport will invigorate you. One, you'll have some much needed downtime. Two, your body will have time to repair itself. Lastly, you'll have time to re-think your objectives and goals.

Hard training produces oxidative stress, free radical and heavy metal build up in the body. This is why I am so focused on sharing glutathione with my visitors and on the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel.

Runners, in general, do not pay attention to their ferritin, iron and glutathione levels. The only way to find out if you are running low on one of these critical minerals and antioxidant is to get a blood test done.

Often times, this is the direct cause for you feeling overly fatigued, depressed and tired. You could walk up to 100 runners and probably not 1 in 100 would know what glutathione is. I'll be honest, neither did until 2013.

The only way to get over runner burnout is to take time off. In addition, to get your blood checked and see if you aren't running low on any of the above mentioned nutrients.

How Do You Keep From Getting Burnout From Running?

How to overcome running burnout

You start to back off on your recovery days and allow time for full recovery between hard, anaerobic work. There are no short cuts to success. Furthermore, it isn't just about working hard but working smarter.

The best athletes are well aware of this. The problem is we as athletes are already success oriented. We focus on attention to detail and are highly motivated. 

Often times, it is more difficult to have the discipline to slow down on easy days, as it is to run hard. Remember, the results of all your training come within the rest period, not the workout. There is a training principle called Supercompensation. I have linked to a valuable resource which will provide some further information to help you.

So, your highest return on investment is going to come within the rest period. How to overcome running burnout is about focusing on the other details of your preparation. What are you doing the other hours away from the track and roads?

Are you hydrating properly? Getting enough sleep? Are you running slow enough on your easy days or running too fast?

How Do You Recover From Running?

Ingest some food and fluids immediately following a workout. Additionally, if time permits, get a massage to loosen up tired muscles. There are far too many athletes who will not hydrate well enough during and after a hard workout.

The problem is many do but still do not ingest a sufficient amount of calories and fluid after their workouts. In addition, athletes have the discipline to train but don't always pay attention to the other areas of preparation.

For example, taking ice baths, stretching before and after workouts. In addition, they stay up too late when rest is often times more important than the workout. Are you routinely getting sore muscles or cramps? You could be running very low on potassium.

So, the remedy for recovery and prevention of burnout is to pay attention to the minute details of your preparation. Don't sweat the small stuff. In addition, don't beat yourself up over a poor workout or race. You are preparing to do something that is difficult.

Furthermore, running and racing are not the same thing. One is an activity and the other is an art form that takes time to master. It doesn't take skill to run a few miles easy. It does take focus and commitment to race over a specific distance in a specific amount of time.

There are very few athletes who break the sub 2.30 marathon each year. It demands the athlete sustain 5.43 mile pace over 26.2 mile distance. It is one thing to run a mile in 5.43, another to run 26.2 miles at the same pace.

So, don't expect overnight success and keep things positive in your preparation. Pace yourself and do not lose enthusiasm during your build up. This is where many runners go wrong. They start to second guess themselves the moment results don't come as quickly as they would like.

Your golden moment may be one race away and you don't even know it.

What Does It Mean To Be Burnt Out From Running?

It means you are doing too much and more than likely not allowing proper rest within your training regiment.

In addition, it could very well be something physiologically going wrong. As mentioned above, you could be running very low on iron, ferritin or glutathione. These minerals and antioxidant are critical for cellular health and oxygen transport throughout the body.

If you are running low on any of these it doesn't matter how motivated you are, you will run poor. The good news is that this can be corrected. First, you need to get a blood test to see if this is the cause of your fatigue. Lastly, a few days or weeks away from the sport can work wonders for your running.

We all need a break at times. I have been there and have had no issue taking time off from training. We all train so hard during build ups for a racing. A nice break away from hard training and racing can totally rejuvenate you.

So, allow yourself some downtime and don't jump to conclusions that you are done competing. I had a blood test in 2007 and was found to be anemic. I started taking a 65 mg tablet of iron 2 to 3 times a week with orange juice. The result was I set new personal bests in the half-marathon and marathon.

Vitamin C helps iron to absorb more efficiently. Thus, the reasoning for taking iron with orange juice. Burnout can also be psychological. Running is a mental sport. How many times have you been on a run or in race and you thought you were done? A few miles down the road you all of a sudden start to pick up the pace and feel better?

We all have experienced this before. The problem is when there is chronic fatigue and that is when time off is necessary. Yes, it is psychological but you have to be mindful of all areas of your preparation. How to overcome running burnout? Pay attention to the areas of training you often do not.

How To Beat Runners Burnout?

Focus on the areas of training and preparation that you can control. Have a bad race? Get over it as quickly as possible. Yes, it sucks to run a bad race or have a poor performance in training. That being said, there is more to life than running.

I know that is tough to hear especially if your whole life is revolved around it. I understand this very well because mine was too. You'll start to create some truly extraordinary results in your racing when you relax.

Have faith in your training and preparation but don't overanalyze. Focus on positive information. Read positive books or listen to audiobooks that will encourage you. Do not waste time on negative media. When was the last time CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or CNBC put money in your bank account or helped you with your fitness?

Why so many people waste their time listening to this garbage is beyond me. I mean that respectfully. The sad reality is the average American is watching 5 to 6 hours of television per day.

You can beat runners burnout by following the guidance I'm sharing in this post. Re-visit the video I made above and hear me out. Don't give up or let go of your dreams. You are experiencing the same challenges the world's best middle to long distance runners face. It is about staying persistent and consistent with your preparation.

In addition, think long-term. You will be much more motivated when you think about progression. You cannot plant a seed today and an oak tree will be waiting for you tomorrow. This is where most runners get it wrong. They have big dreams and goals but don't realize the timeline that is needed to reach their objective.

How Much Running is Too Much?

Your body will let you know. If you begin to feel like you are burned out you may need to significantly lower your weekly volume. Remember, work smarter, not harder.

Higher mileage does not always guarantee results. Also, lower mileage doesn't necessarily guarantee you faster times either. Running success comes with trial and error and finding out what does and does not work.

Too much running without adequate rest will not produce a return on investment. The body needs rest to recover from the hard training you are doing. I've known runners who will run 6 to 6.30 mile pace on their “easy” days.

I've also trained and lived with world-class marathoners who ran 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. Furthermore, these athletes were able to hold 4.50 mile pace over 26.2 miles. So, we all can learn a lesson from these professionals. I had to listen and follow their training habits before I was able to finally break the sub-2.20 marathon barrier.

How To Overcome Running Fatigue?

Focus on the areas of your preparation your competition is overlooking. Don't just focus on the workouts. Yes, aim to train at, near or far below your goal race pace. That being said, also focus on your actions immediately after and hours after your training is completed.

You have to have the same discipline in your off hours as you do during training. Remember, it is a culmination of all the other areas of your preparation that will dictate your success. Furthermore, expect it to be challenging. We all have goals whether they are to break a 2 hour half marathon or break a 20 minute 5K.

It is about a strategy and one that encompasses recovery that will keep you from being burned out from running. Also, think quality versus quantity when putting in those miles. You want to train smarter and use leverage. There are far too many runners training too fast on their easy days and too slow on their hard days.

There has to be a plan in place that will set you up for success. This is why I created the running courses at the RunDreamAchieve Academy. It is better to run 50 miles a week and achieve your goal than to run 120 miles a week and miss it by 15 minutes. So, you have to be mindful of your preparation.

You can't continue to push the body and expect results without rest. I have trained with 2.10 marathoners who will run 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. If they can run that slow (compared to their race pace) so can you and I. I hope that makes sense.

Closing Thoughts

I don't necessary believe in the word “burnout”. I believe this is problem that can be corrected with total rest or significantly backing off on your volume. You may also need to adjust the intensity of your workouts.

Athletes can be training much too hard on their easy days and running far too slow on their hard days. Regardless, if there is not attention to detail in your preparation you are setting yourself up for failure. How to overcome running burnout is proper planning, sufficient time spent recovering and attention to detail. Again, anyone can go out for an easy run. It is an art form to race and demands a proper plan put in place and patience for success.

Running fast and efficiently is an art form that takes time to master. Results don't come overnight. So, be patient with yourself and allow time for your body to react to the hard training. Remember the tips that were shared in this post and in the video above. I believe in you and know it is just a matter of time before you start performing at a higher level.