Running Highs and Lows

Running is such an interesting sport. Most people hate it when they start. If they stick with it, they usually get addicted. In the first few months, or at least the first year, new runners will see improvements fairly quickly. Seasoned runners can go without a PR for what seems like ages and then have a breakthrough that invigorates them. And there’s almost always the burnout phase, where it’s hard to get motivated and it just isn’t fun.

I have a lot of friends who are in the burnout phase right now. In fact, I was in this phase for about 6 months and am just coming out of it. The burnout can come for many reasons such as:

  • The completion of a big race where you did great but have no new goals
  • The completion of a big race where you didn’t do well
  • A period of time where you don’t see improvements where everyone else seems to be tearing up the racing scene
  • Boredom with running partners/groups/solo running
  • Too much training
  • Too little training
  • Buildup of injuries

When you are in the middle of a burnout phase, it might seem like you will never get out. But you will. If you stick with it, you will climb out victorious!  I went through a good 6-7 year burnout in my 20s and the thing that pulled me out was my own change in attitude. Everyone’s solution to getting back on track is different, but here are a few ideas:

  • find someone who believes in you. I find that when someone else believes in me, it can help me believe in myself
  • find another way to believe in yourself
  • try something new-work out at gym, weight lifting, take a class, try a dvd, trail, workout with partner/friend
  • find a group or start to workout solo
  • dial back intensity – just do it for fun without goals for awhile. I find running local races and concentrating more on the social aspect can get my mind back to where it needs to be.
freezeroo race series

Having fun with the Roadkill Racing crew before a winter racing series called Freezeroo during my "low phase" this past winter.

  • dial up intensity- a track workout might be just what you need!

I think burnouts are normal and show that we are training hard and setting goals. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Running Highs and Lows

  1. I agree and think they are very normal! I get to a point where I know I don’t want to talk, read, or hear about running. For me it’s always a mental signal that I need to chill out on my intensity or mileage first because next I will be physically burnt out. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I went through this in my 20’s also! And like you, my perspective on things changed. I’m glad it did bc I love racing so much now, again. I’ve also gone through different phases in the past 3 years but none I would consider burn out. Racing is an emotional sport because it’s so individual and you can out a lot of pressure on yourself. I think it’s important to look at the big picture bc sometimes we get caught up in so much nitty gritty of it. Your tips are great… and very helpful!

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