Have you ever been in a running slump?

My late summer and early fall months were filled with dreams of winning the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge.  Visions of participating in and completing my first ultra. Excitement of racing again after giving birth to my son earlier in the year.  With all these fun, challenging events, it’s easy to see how I was able to happily log hundreds of miles, day after day.

But, after the highs of representing my borough [Staten Island] at the NYC Marathon and my first dabble with an ultra distance on November 19th, I found myself in a MAJOR slump Thanksgiving weekend.

I had no desire to run. NONE It wasn’t just a day here or there. I’ve dealt with minor hiccups in my training before.  No. This was much worse. This was a string of mornings where I literally could not pull myself out of bed to run even a few miles. And when I would force myself to dress and head out the door, I felt terrible and would return after a few, short miles.

My son can better articulate what I was growing through

What was going on with me?

It was a huge letdown to go from viewing an 8-mile run as “a short run” to being happy that I managed to run a very slow 3 or 4 miles.

I was approaching almost 2 weeks of very little running (I went from averaging 45-55 miles a week to less than 25) and realized many other aspects of my life were being impacted – I found myself eating poorly, not drinking enough water, getting much less sleep than my body needs, and just being an overall grouch.  And it becomes a downward spiral because those things directly affect my running performance.

I decided I needed to do SOMETHING to shake things up and get me back on track.

I had to figure out why I was having such a rough few weeks.  This is what I came up with: 
There is a void in my life. I put so much time, energy, and effort into training for the NYC Marathon and Knickerbocker 60k. For months, a large part of my life revolved around these two events. Since they are over and I’m not training for anything (just yet), I have a void to fill.
I am rundown. I didn’t take enough of a break after the Knickerbocker 60k. I took 3x days off and then jumped back into 7 or 8 mile runs.  While I felt okay at the time, I don’t believe I gave my body enough time to rest and fully recover from the stress of running a 30-miler, marathon, and 60k in 5 weeks.
It’s cold out. I prefer running in warm weather [I actually enjoyed running in the heat during my deployments to Iraq]. I get cold easily and am much more inclined to lay in bed under the covers then head out for a 10 mile run in 20 degree weather.

I’ve experienced these at various points throughout my running career and often do one or more things to help pull myself out:
1. Sign up for a race with a friend and run it together (make  it a fun run).
2. Do a run that you love.  Could be a hard 4 or 5-miler where your lungs are burning and your legs are filled with lactic acid by the time you finish.  Or it could be a trail race.  Or it could be your favorite place to run.  Do something that will make you finish running with a smile on your face.
3. If you use an IPOD, add a little variety to the music. I often listen to the same music day after day.  A simple playlist swap can do the trick!
4. Buy some new running clothes. I’m ALWAYS more excited to go for a run when I have a new pair of running shoes or a new jacket or shirt.

I decided to do #s 2, 3 AND 4 – I signed up for the Staten Island Trail Festival 25k, added some holiday music to my IPOD playlist, and bought a whole TON of clothes from Saucony [entirely too many].

Smiling in my new Saucony running shirt after completing the 25k Trail Race!

And I’m happy to report that I have been back on track since last week!!

Have you ever been in a running slump??!?  Do you have any tips or advice to pass along to other readers?

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    18 thoughts on “Have you ever been in a running slump?

    1. I was in a huge slump after the NYC marathon. I started racing way too soon and didn’t give my body a chance to recover. Soon after, I kept getting sick and had zero motivation. I kept thinking something was wrong with me and worrying that I’d never get back out there. Thanks to your advice, I was able to pull myself out of it. I put some new music on my playlist, and I got some cute, new gear to force my butt out the door! Tomorrow I start training for the Vermont marathon in May. I am grateful for the time I was able to relax and listen to my body, but I’m also excited to get back into a routine.

    2. I definitely goes through these slumps from time to time. I usually need a challenge or a goal to look forward too. Sometimes I just need a break and do some other fun XTing workouts for a while. Now if I could only break this swimming slump! Have not gotten my motivation back to head to the pool but I know I need to if I want to do any triathlons this year.

    3. i usually just completely give it up for a while. switch to just spinning and weights and after a week or two i’m dying to get back to it. i’m glad you came out of the slump!

    4. I find that listening to a book and only getting to listen to it when I am running helps, especially if it is a good one then I want to run longer to get to listen to more of it too. Great post. Retail therapy is always a fave of mine too!

    5. Great post! We all go through those slumps, and I totally agree with your retail therapy. I’m always happy to get out and test new gear:) Spring will be here before you know it!

    6. ahhh yes, i have for sure been there before. always after a big event race. i went thru it this november, too. so happy you are feeling better now :o) and great tips on how to bounce back!

      • Jess, it felt so good to write this post. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t love running every day, then I’m not a “real” runner, you know? It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has lows in running!

    7. I really enjoy running in the summer and fall months… but for some reason really have a problem running at all in the winter…
      I don’t know why because the cold doesn’t really bother me.. I just like the heat better… I’ve been at least trying to get back into some sort of a workout routine…
      I started a new workout video and tried yoga for the first time ever… it seems to be helping with the working out part… but i’ve only run about 4-5 times since mid-October…

    8. This is such great advice – and such a great opportunity for you to take a step back and reassess. Sometimes that’s all it takes to pull yourself out of a slump like that.

      For me, I find that taking a few days, a week, even more than that, away from running when I hit a slump, works wonders. The time away helps me reevaluate what I’ve been doing, but it also gives me a chance to miss running so when I do run again, I fall right back in love with it, as good as new.

      • YES! The “missing running” part is SO true!! I’m going to have to add that one to my list!!
        I don’t enjoy running when it becomes something that I have to do.

    9. I’ve been there before and like you, it’s generally been after a big event. I think it’s usually a sign that we need that break, mentally and physically. I like the retail therapy idea for getting out of it, though!

    10. When I hit a slump it is usually my body telling me that I need some rest, not just active rest, but a couple of days off to heal, re-charge. Otherwise I change up where I do my running, try some trail running as a change of pace. It sounds like you have a pretty good plan

      Good luck and spring is around the Corner :-)

      • I tell myself all the time that I need to rest. It’s so hard to do – especially when I’m feeling lousy!
        Thanks! Anxiously counting the days til spring =)