Running isn’t as fun as it used to be. Is it burnout? How to find the motivation?

Although today the term “burnout” is used more in a humorous context as an excuse for one’s own laziness, it is actually a serious problem that cannot be ignored.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is the consequence of long-term or chronic stress, as well as physical and mental overload, resulting in a state of physical and emotional exhaustion.

The term “burnout” is often used to describe the feeling of low motivation when the previous joy of such and such an activity is replaced by fatigue, an inability to concentrate, a drop in productivity, and above all, a lack of motivation. pleasure of what you love.

Burnout is often used to describe feelings about work, hobbies, sports, relationships, etc. The more often and longer you perform an activity, the more likely you are to end up with burnout.

It can be very difficult to accept the fact that we have exhausted ourselves. We are proud to be able to keep running at the fast pace of life despite stress, sleep deprivation, deadlines and fatigue. Therefore, many runners, unable to recognize in time that “something was wrong”, suffer from severe emotional exhaustion and continue running, increasing the load, thereby further aggravating their condition.

There are three types of burnout, and runners can experience more than one at the same time:

  • physical – when the athlete’s body does not react in the usual way to sports loads, there is a constant feeling of fatigue and incomplete recovery
  • mental – decreased concentration and mental stamina during training and competitions
  • emotional – is manifested by a lack of desire to train, a drop in self-confidence, a lack of joy in running

How to define burnout

If you’ve been feeling tired, lethargic, unproductive, or unsatisfied with your workouts lately, you may have overtrained. Overtraining is a condition that is inevitable if runners actively fight burnout by running longer and harder.

Recognizing and accepting the fact that you are tired and won’t be able to show high results for a while is the first step to recovery. The second is the understanding that actively fighting burnout can cause even more harm.

It should be noted that recreational runners are more likely to experience burnout than conventional overtraining.

If you don’t know why you stopped feeling the joy and pleasure of running, you may just be exhausted. Here are the main signs to watch out for.

Lack of motivation and desire to run

If you’ve suddenly lost your motivation to run but don’t know why, burnout could be the culprit. Of course, it can also happen due to more specific events, for example, you’re really busy at work and you don’t get much rest, or it’s low season and the weather isn’t conducive to staying out for a long time, or you don’t have a training goal, but an important and desired race once again canceled.

But if everything is going relatively well at home, there are several registrations for competitions, and running does not pull at the same time, it is quite possible that you are suffering from burnout.

Feeling tired and sluggish with every run

Often, runners confuse fatigue with laziness and begin to stretch their training on “moral-volunteer”. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed after an intense or long pace in tough conditions, but if you take a day, two, or even three days to recover and still feel tired and sore that almost never goes away, you are in trouble.

Your progress has stopped

There’s nothing more frustrating than training more and better only to find that your progress is steadily slowing. Sometimes progress stalls because you’re trying too hard, your body is just too tired to continue. If you find that you are no longer improving your performance, whether through speed training, competition, or the overall feel of your run, you are likely suffering from burnout.

Changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns

You don’t sleep well – you can’t fall asleep at your usual sleeping time, you have trouble waking up on time, you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning, and you can’t sleep. fall asleep; or vice versa – you experience constant drowsiness, even though you had a good night’s sleep the night before. The relationship with food is like a seesaw, from total loss of appetite to occasional overeating.

Predominance of negative emotions

Burnout, unfortunately, also affects the emotional sphere – states such as anger, depression, helplessness, sudden mood swings, excessive emotional sensitivity and susceptibility, disappointment and irritation predominate. So if everything around you infuriates and irritates – that’s not a bad character, it’s a burnout marker.

The symptoms of burnout are very similar to those of overtraining, the only difference is how long it takes you to recover. If burnout can be cured in weeks, then overtraining the bill will go for months.

This does not mean that burnout should not be taken seriously, on the contrary, at the first signs it is better to take measures in order to quickly regain the joy of living and playing sports.

Burnout on the run

How to deal with burnout

Take a break

Take a break for at least a week, maybe more. Understand that this feeling of constant sluggishness is not due to laziness, and if left as it is, the next step can be trauma.

Give your body time to rest without feeling guilty. It’s likely that after a week or two of not running, your body will want to move again. Start slowly and gradually, building up your mileage over several weeks. If the pain returns, reduce the mileage again.

Skipping a few days or weeks of training will help you recover mentally and physically, while returning too quickly can cause you to miss months.

Eliminate physical problems

The first thing to do is to check your ferritin levels to rule out iron deficiency anemia, a condition defined as a deficiency of hemoglobin in the blood and a notorious cause of fatigued and fatigued runners.

When an athlete lacks iron, every run can feel exhausting. A general rule of thumb is that a minimum ferritin level in female runners should be 30 ng/mL and in male runners at least 40 ng/mL.

If the indicator is normal and you experience all the symptoms of chronic fatigue, it is worth taking further tests to exclude overtraining.

Take care of your body and mind

Quality sleep (at least 7 hours, and preferably 8-9), good nutrition with foods rich in all the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids, as well as adherence to a hydration diet will help the body to get back.

Think and find for yourself the types of relaxation that bring pleasure to your body – for example, massage, sauna, breathing exercises, outdoor walks, etc.

The nervous system will also require an energy-saving mode: try to minimize the level of domestic stress, do not overload yourself with negative news, try to delegate part of the household routine and daily tasks.

Rethink your running goals

Whether you’re close to exhaustion or already trying to beat it, it’s time to reassess your running goals. The current plateau status indicates that something in your training plan is not working. Your body no longer responds to the workouts you did.

You may be running more miles than your current lifestyle allows and you don’t have time to recover. Balancing running and life requires reasonable expectations and an end to being too hard on yourself. At this point, try forgoing personal training, but focus on why you started running and what you like about it.

Be honest with yourself and don’t do everything on every run. In the recovery phase, end your workout when you feel like you can run a few more miles on a long run or a few more intervals at a given pace.

Add variety to your workouts

It also happens that burnout is caused by the monotony and monotony of your training: same course, exhausting marathon training plan, same types of training for weeks without the slightest trace of novelty.

In this case, introducing new elements will help you fall in love with running again: if you are used to running alone, try to find a partner or even several; if you train in silence, take music or an interesting podcast with you, and vice versa, try leaving your headphones at home and listening to the sounds of nature.

Try a new hobby or sport: cycling, yoga, swimming or Nordic walking. Or you can change your running habits: if road marathons were your specialty, sign up for a trail or hurdle race, try short-distance sprints.

Resume the race whenever you want. The key to overcoming burnout is to start enjoying the sport again.