When Running Feels like a Chore

I’ve noticed that there are a few of us out there who are maybe struggling with our training plans a little bit. As I’m approaching my race on Saturday, that feeling is not as relevant anymore but the last 2-3 weeks have been hard. I know I’ve mention that while I’m excited for my race, I’m also excited to not be in training anymore. I went from training for my half marathon in June straight into training for this race coming up. I’ve been in training for months and months.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE running. Obviously. Nobody who hates running should spend as much time running as I have this year. But when I read Cori’s post about how sometimes running just sucksΒ and I’ve talked to other bloggers about their training, I’ve realized I’m not the only one who has reached a point where I don’t want to train anymore. You’ve been training for a long time! You’ve had a set schedule telling you exactly what to do each day for your workout. You have a goal in mind, a deadline to meet and if you skip a workout, you may not make that goal! (ok that last one isn’t true but it feels that way sometimes). So what do we do to overcome these feelings, this burnout, this lack of motivation?


1) Remind yourself of why you’re doing this.

TRUST ME there have been times when I’m out on a run and I have thought “Why in the heck am I doing this?! I should drop down to the half marathon. Or quit altogether. This isn’t fun! It’s hard!” But then I remember how at my 3rd half back in February, I had only had 2 or 3 weeks to train for it. But I decided to do it so I started running more consistently and I ran that half. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. And training for it on short notice wasn’t that hard. So I decided I needed a challenge. It was time to push my body a little further. So I signed up for my first marathon and another half to do in between. I signed up for a challenge and boy am I getting one! But how awesome will it be when I accomplish this goal on Saturday? This is something I really didn’t think I could do. Now I’m doing it.

2) Mix it up

While I do think that training plans that have you running most days of the week are good, I really enjoyed only running 3 days a week; a track workout, a tempo run and a long run. Then on two other days I would do some sort of strength training or cross training. Maybe a short run or little workout on Friday. It helped me to not get bored or burned AS fast. I looked forward to my workouts because I knew that some days I got to work on other things and then I would be excited to get a run in the next day. I’ve actually been impressed at my ability to get stronger and run up to 20 miles with only running 3 days a week. The other workouts are important too! Physically and mentally.


3) Don’t be afraid to take more rest days

You guys, training for races isn’t easy. Especially if it’s a distance you’ve never covered before, whether it’s your first 5k, marathon or anywhere in between. Your body needs time to adjust and it needs rest in order to heal the muscles. If they don’t heal, they don’t get stronger and then you just wear yourself out. If you get to a point in your training where you really need to take an extra rest day for that week, then for heaven’s sake take another rest day!! Listen to your body! It knows what it needs!

4) Sometimes you have to tough it out

Yeah there were many runs that I had to mother myself and make myself do the workout, even if I didn’t feel like it. Knowing when to take a rest day vs toughing it out is an important skill to learn. But really there will be days (whether or not you’re in training) that you have to make yourself go run. You’ll always be glad you did. Even if you don’t like it when you start, it will be good for you. Promise.

5) Find ways to make your runs more interesting

Go on a route you’ve never run on before. Listen to an audio book or podcast instead of music. Bring a running buddy. Buy yourself a new piece of running equipment! If you always do the exact same thing, then of course you’re going to be bored/unmotivated after your 100th hour of doing it. That would drive any person crazy regardless of what they’re doing! Spice up your runs. It really does help. Just this last weekend, I wasn’t feeling so great on a run, so I took a turn down a neighborhood I had never been on and wound my way back home. It was fun and it definitely helped my mood change!


6) Positive self talk

This one is admittedly something I struggle with sometimes. But we all know that having a bad attitude about something sure isn’t going to make it better. Smile. Make a conscious decision to have a good run. Tell yourself how amazing it is that you’re x-amount of weeks into this training schedule. Or that in so many days you’re going to be running your next race and what an accomplishment that is! Running is an interesting sport in that even though an external support system really does make such a difference, it’s the internal that will decide how well you’ll do. If you make up your mind to succeed, you will. It also goes the same the other way around.

7) Take it in stride

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you really are just stuck in a rut. So take it step by step. Focus on completing today’s work out. Then worry about tomorrow’s workout tomorrow! Have little goals along the way that will eventually lead up to your big goal for your race, whether it’s completion, a PR, not walking…whatever!

8) Finally, know there is an end in sight!

This won’t go on forever and it won’t always feel like a chore.

Competitive runners in a cross country race.

You love running. You’re going to love your race. Just think of how happy you’ll be come race day that you stuck to it and maintained your training to the best of your ability.

What do you do when you’re struggling with your training plan?

Do you ever feel burned out?Β 

Favorite cross training activity?


14 thoughts on “When Running Feels like a Chore

  1. I completely agree with all your points! I have started feeling like this lately especially after my last 18 miles. I just started getting tired of running…..I too only run 3 times a week and I feel that is the perfect amount for me. When I tried adding a 4th day it made my legs feeling tired and dead, it just wasn’t working. I also cross train 5 days a week and have 1 rest day. There are a couple days a week that I exercise twice in a one day. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but I always try to have my rest day the day before a long run so my legs feel as refreshed as possible. Good luck on your Marathon this Saturday!!! You will do great!! I have a question, how many weeks out was your last long, long run and how many miles was it? THank you!

    • I’m so glad a similar plan is working well for you, too! You sound like you’ll be much more prepared than I am though! πŸ™‚ My longest run was 20 miles and it was 2 weeks before the race. Originally I had it 3 weeks before the race but that didn’t end up working out for various reasons. But I think it all worked out pretty well. I feel good about it.

  2. These are such great reminders! I think once I sit down and actually remind myself WHY I enjoy working out, I become more motivated to do it. I also have a fear of taking more than 1-2 rest days at a time. I’ve found that if I keep up with that schedule, however, I tend to get burnt out quickly. It’s nice to just take a couple days off here & there and RELAX and enjoy life πŸ™‚

  3. Okay, is that last picture of you? Because that would be awesome! Also, I totally agree with you on this. I trained for my marathon running 3x a week for 18 weeks. And it was fine! I actually did better than expected. So yeah, running every day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And rest days are great.

  4. Alyssa, you don’t know me, but I’m a friend of your mom. Occasionally she sends links to your blog and I always enjoy reading them. You have such a positive (though still realistic) attitude toward life. I am sure that you’ll do great in your marathon this weekend. Last weekend, I walked 33 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (okay, that was over 2 days, but I’m old). You can certainly do 26.2. I’ll look forward to reading your post-race blog entry. Go, Alyssa!

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