Digging Out of a Running Slump

There’s not better feeling than a runner’s high; runs feel easy, exhilarating, while riding an endorphin high.  But it’s not just a runner’s high, but an endurance fitness high, one that leaves you feeling happy and confident.

Equally power, yet detrimental to physical and mental well-being is the running slump.  Stagnation, boredom, loss of motivation, and dread are commonly experienced during a slump.  Digging yourself out of a slump can feel like an impossible task. 

And when running is no longer joyful, it’s time for change.

What is a running slump?

Dips in motivation are common and normal for new and experienced runners alike.  Not all training days will feel great, and bad days come to an end.  However, if negative feelings persist, it’s time to shake things up. 

A number of factors can trigger a running slump, such less-than-ideal weather, stressful personal situations, and stagnation with a regular fitness routine. 

①  Take a Break

There are few things worse during training than when running feels forced, requiring large amounts of mental energy to do what was once pleasurable.  It’s a downward spiral with few good outcomes. 

ACTION:  Time away from the rigors of training can do wonders for the soul.  A few days off can provide the necessary rest and recovery to break out a running funk.  Eat, sleep, and find joy in life. 

②  Introduce Variety

When you feel bored by your usual routes, pace, or training style, try something new.  Stagnation is the enemy of progress.  Variety presents opportunities to adapt and experience new things. 

ACTION: Join a local running club.  Sign up for a different style race – Ragnar, Spartan, trail.  Explore new routes.  Experiment with a different training system. 

③  Mental Reset

No matter what, remember that running slumps are part of the journey of every runner.  There’s no need to feel down on yourself if you need to take a few days off or simply reset mentally.  Focus on progress, not perfection or total adherence to a training plan.  A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. 

ACTION: Maintain a fitness routine, but replace running with walking, hiking, or other low-impact activities.  Increase sleep, napping if possible.

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