Running Burnout – What Is It, How to Avoid It and Recover from It?

Photo Credit: 123RF

You were an active and health-conscious running addict for as long as you could remember. But, one day, your motivation suddenly ran dry. You lost the excitement of heading out to run. You even dreaded the thought of running. You began to ask yourself, what has happened?

That is running burnout—or as we’d like to call it: Runpression (running depression).

Photo Credit: 123RF

Signs of running burnout

If you are not aware of running burnout, you might think that you are no longer interested in running, when in fact you just need to take a step back and make some adjustment to fall in love with running again. So, how to identify the symptoms of running burnout? Here are several symptoms you should watch out for.

  1. You feel exhausted all the time. You feel like your sore muscles aren’t recovering even though you’ve had quite a huge amount of rest.
  2. You are not sleeping well. You can’t fall asleep at your usual bedtime, find it hard to wake up on time, wake up at odd timings during the night and have difficulty falling back asleep.
  3. You can’t decide whether you’ll be running on that day.
  4. You have no motivation to run. You keep putting off your run to tomorrow.
  5. When you run, you keep thinking, “I hate this. Why am I putting myself through this again?”
  6. You eat badly. Some people lost their appetite, others overeat.
  7. You don’t want to talk about running or meet any of your running friends.
  8. You have negative emotions, such as angry, depressed, helpless, frustrated and easily irritated.
  9. Your performance suffers and you become more stressed.

Photo Credit: 123RF

How to avoid running burnout

It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you experience any of the symptoms above, a running burnout maybe just around the corner. Before you hang up your shoes, here are what you can do to avoid running burnout.

  1. Lower your expectation. Just because you achieved PB on your last marathon doesn’t mean that you should chase a PB on your next marathon too.
  2. Analyse your priorities. If running isn’t your top priority at the moment, cut the amount of time you spend on running.
  3. Don’t overtrain. Too much running isn’t always going to lead you to better results.
  4. Run with a friend or join a running club.
  5. Run at a new place. A new environment can sometimes renew your motivation.
  6. Focus on the experience of running, instead of your target pace or distance.
  7. Ditch your running apps or smartwatch if they’re stressing you out when you run

Photo Credit: 123RF

How to recover from running burnout

If your burnout has gotten worse and nothing can really motivate you to run, these are the things you can do to recover from running burnout.

  1. Take a break from running, especially after a big race. Life is too short to do the things that make you miserable.
  2. Do cross training. It gives your muscles a break and allows you to find new interests.
  3. Realise that burnout is not the sign of weakness. Rather, it is a method that your body uses to tell you to slow down. Even the most dedicated athletes experience burnout.
  4. Be patient. Wait for the excitement to return again.
  5. Analyse whether there’s anything in life that's giving you stress. Address it and solve it.

Have you experienced a running burnout before? What did you do to recover from it?