Top 5 Signs of Runner Burnout

Twitter is a funny world. I guess I should say, “world”. Complete strangers (mostly) share their lives, workouts, interests, secrets, fears, and triumphs on the Internet in 140 characters or less.

People follow each other's every virtual move. AKA stalk.

13,699 tweets? What the hell do I have to say that’s so important?

You can link your Facebook, blog, FourSquare, Vine, Run Keeper, Nike+ running, Daily Mile, MapMyRun, My Fitness Pal, and oodles of other apps to your Twitter feed. People can track your every move if you let them.

I actually like Twitter. The people I follow aren’t serial users or obsessive (at least, I don’t think they are) and I genuinely enjoy their quips and updates. As we approach Boston Marathon weekend, I’m seeing a trend in runners that I’ve noticed before, but not quite as much as right now.

Running when one clearly hates running right now.

What happens when it becomes YOUR punishment, too?

What happens when it becomes YOUR punishment, too?

More than one runner who is headed to Boston this week has confessed that their head and heart just aren’t in it. They’re all seasoned-ish runners who have surely defined themselves as RUNNERS, but they clearly no longer enjoy running.

What do you do when you just don’t feel like running anymore?

Even Snoopy feels like this sometimes.

I would say this person is experiencing complete and total burnout.

Top 5 signs of burnout:

  1. Running feels like a chore
  2. Every run feels hard & there’s rarely a “runner’s high”
  3. You come up with any excuse to drop out of races/workouts
  4. Races give you anxiety (more than usual, that is)
  5. Your heart isn’t in it anymore…and you know it least, it should be. (Image courtesy of Runner's World & your inner child)

…at least, it should be.
(Image courtesy of Runner’s World & your inner child)

I want to say this to all the runners out there:


Did you hear me? IT’S OK. It doesn’t take anything away from you or change anything you’ve done. If you aren’t feeling it, don’t force it. Forcing it will only make you resent it more.

Take a step back. Do something else. Try something new.

Don't be afraid you might like something else better.

Don’t be afraid you might like something else better.

You are not defined by only being a “runner”. You are so much more and can be anything you want to be, just don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to walk away from it until you miss it. Don’t be afraid that you might find something you like better.

You can always come back to it.

If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Life is too short to waste your time and energy doing something you hate.

Just a thought.

Now go out and run (or not).

PS. Pictures from the Kick Ass 5K must be received by me via email ( by midnight tonight to count toward the raffle. Get ’em in–I am loving all the ones I have so far!

11 thoughts on “Top 5 Signs of Runner Burnout

  1. Don’t know why but this is the 2nd time I’ve cried while reading your blog… manage to always say something that I need to hear. For me…I want to run. I’ll even take a crappy run as long as I’m not dealing with health issues. Just found out yesterday what I thought I had was runners ischemia might be something else causing some issues when I run. I’m scared. This may be a long year…..but I’ll take it. I just want to be healthy! Bottom line…..I heard you say, “You are not defined by only being a runner.” That is so true Abby! I love running but it doesn’t define me. I’ll take a deep breath and I will conquer this!

    • Gina! I’m so sad to hear your symptoms might be more serious. I’m glad you connected to this but I wish so much you didn’t have to. Feel better soon and keep me posted with how you’re doing! Sending good thoughts!

  2. Wow! I can’t believe how much you’ve hit the nail on the head for me!!! After my last marathon (Nov 2012) I literally felt like I outran my live for running. It actually felt like a…job, or a chore as you so perfectly said. I think I was afraid to admit to myself that I needed to backoff and take a break.

    I’m now dealing with Plantar which has forced me to take some time off. I can’t say I like not running but it has made me realize how many things I haven’t done because running consumed me.

    Thanks for putting my thoughts to paper. You’re so right, running doesn’t define me, it just makes up a small part of who I am.

  3. I am in peak week #2 for my marathon training and logging a LOooooooOOOOt of miles. I wouldn’t say all my runs feel like chores, but… it’s taking over my mind. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was thinking about all the miles I have to check off for the week, and then WHEN I’m running, I’m still thinking about my next run. It’s driving me nuts. Thank goodness I have 3 days left of training and then it is TAPER time! And you’re right, this doesn’t define me. Nope. No way!

  4. Pingback: Q & A: Mileage, Pacing, and Balls In/Out « run stronger every day

  5. Thanks for the article! I have been not enjoying running near as much after running my first marathon. I will be taking a needed break after this week as I have one last relay to finish. After going through this process, I would never try to persuade someone to run an actual marathon, it needs to be something they want on their own and only for their reasons. I can’t tell you exactly what it is but It just isn’t fun any longer. I will go back to running recreational and for health and do away with the garmin and race entries, I think that will help with how i think about running in general. There is much more to life than running or being consumed by it! thanks again!

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