You love to run, and everyone knows it; but sometimes the mere thought of lacing up your shoes makes your legs feel like dead weight. All the peppy people in your running club talking about their way packed race schedules with their big smiles and bouncy ponytails leaves you feeling nauseous as you think about how you still haven’t signed up for anything this fall. This feeling happens to more runners than you think. I, even with my deeply ingrained love of the sport, have dealt with it myself from time to time as well. To get over it, the trick that works for me is to continue to explore new avenues of running
Tackle a new distance, or return to an old one. Instead of focusing on doing yet another 13.1 or 26.2, pick a new distance to train for. Or if a time crunch is causing part of your burnout, return to a familiar distance that you haven’t raced in a while. Maybe set your sights on a 5 or 10K PR. The new goal and the different training required to excel at that goal will give you a great boost to get out the door.
Find a new race format. Not all races are 7:00 am road races. There’s a whole world of night races, relay races, timed events, last man standing races (Zombie runs, anyone?), summer track meets, mud runs, trail races, and multi-day stage races to explore! Better yet, try to get some of your runner friends on board to keep it fun, and to keep you accountable.
Try Multisport. You’re already an expert at putting one leg in front of the other, so why not combine it with biking and/or swimming and completely change the game? Depending on where you live, you might be able to find multisport events that combine canoeing and orienteering into more of an adventure race format as well.
Change up your workouts. If your weeks always consist of the same workouts on the same days, it’s no wonder you’re starting to feel stale. Instead of doing a steady hard run, do some short intervals, or a ladder workout. Maybe instead of running hills do bounding drills, or find some stairs. The new challenges will tax your body in different ways and may help you find your focus again.
Find a new running group. The energy of being around new people always helps get me out the door! Chances are there are several in your area, and having different people to run with on different days will increase your chances of going for a run.
Try trails. Getting off-road will awaken your senses and help remind you how great it is to be outside. On the trails you’ll find more solitude on your runs, be more likely to see wildlife, and you might even discover some neat places in your town that you never even knew existed.
Forget the watch. If none of the above is keeping you interested, try remembering why it is you run. Run a race for the enjoyment of it, instead of time. Leave your GPS watch at home and run your route backwards.
If none of these ideas are helpful in getting you to look forward to your post work run, then perhaps you should consider what your training schedule has looked like the past year. If you have been training non-stop for several seasons in a row, your burnout could actually be a warning sign that your body needs to recover. If that’s the case, simply cut back a little. I have found that after a few weeks of easy running, the body heals and my desire to train will return as well.