Runner’s Burnout

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! We had another wedding to go to on Saturday, and Sunday I had my first bridal shower! I will tell you all about my shower in another post, but today I wanted to talk about something else.

During my 6+ years of being a “runner,” I’ve experienced runner’s knee, runner’s toe, runner’s high, and pretty much everything else that happens to you from running, except one thing – runner’s burnout. I wasn’t exactly sure if this was a proper term, but after doing some research, I’ve learned that runner’s burnout is actually quite common. 

One of the reasons I don’t think I have experienced this yet is because I’ve never trained for or ran a full marathon.  I have run 5 half marathons and a couple 5Ks in 5 years, which isn’t very many races compared to a lot of you out there.  I’ve never followed a training plan, and on average, I probably spend 8 weeks informally training for my half marathons.  When I say informally, I mean I would run 5-6 miles a couple times during the week (when I felt like it) and then I would make sure to increase my long run by 1 mile each week.  Up until my last half in May, my goal was always just to finish and I didn’t really care about my time. 

Then I signed up for my first full marathon…26.2 LONG miles. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I knew I had to follow a training plan for this one.  I knew I wouldn’t feel confident going into the race without having followed a structured and reputable training plan.  Once I selected my 18 week training plan, I knew this was going to be a long haul, but I was so excited for the challenge. 

Well, I’ve officially completed week 10 of my training plan, and I’m going to be honest, I am EXHAUSTED.  Lately I’ve been feeling like all I do is wake up, run, work, eat sleep, and then do it all again the next day.  I feel like I’m constantly rushing around to get my runs in and get to work on time.  I’m also feeling like I don’t have the time or energy for doing other things I enjoy like strength training.  I know that a lot of people enjoy constantly being on the go, but not this girl! It also doesn’t help that I’m planning for my wedding that is only 2 weeks after the marathon.  So when I’m not running, working, eating or sleeping, I’m planning my wedding (or at least thinking about all the stuff that still needs to be done for it).

My long run this week was 17 miles.  The farthest I’ve run thus far is 15 miles, so I really had to mentally prepare myself for this one.  I actually felt pretty good during this run. I paced myself at the beginning and just kept reminding myself that it’s okay to go slower than usual.  It wasn’t until the last 2 miles that my legs became REALLY tired and I kept asking myself how in the world I was going to be able to run 26 miles.  I hate when these thoughts of doubt pop into my head, but sometimes it’s impossible to keep them out.  With a couple walking breaks and pep talks to myself, I completed 17 miles.  When I finished, I didn’t feel the “runner’s high” that I usually feel with my longer runs, and it was weird.  It was at this moment that I wondered if I was experiencing runner’s burnout.

Running 17 miles is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It HURT and I can’t imagine putting my body through 9 more miles of that.  I had all these terrible thoughts about what I would tell all my friends and family if I decided to drop out of the full marathon and just do the half.  I keep trying to tell myself that I am capable of running the full 26.2 miles, and I just need to get in the right mindset.

While looking into runner’s burnout online, I came across Abby’s blog where she had listed the 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

According to these signs, I think I am on the verge of burnout.  I AM going to run this race, and I need to spend the last 9 weeks of my training reminding myself that I AM capable.  I have been looking forward to putting that 26.2 sticker on my car, and don’t want to be one of those people with this bumper sticker

I’m hoping that these feelings are all part of the training process, and that I can get over this mentality quickly.  I have to keep my eye on the prize, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other Smile 


1. Have you ever experienced runner’s burnout?

2. What is your best advice to stay motivated while training for a race?

3. What was your run/workout like this weekend?

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18 thoughts on “Runner’s Burnout

  1. Sarah

    Oh man, Im sorry to hear your burning out! I have been there but never while training for a marathon as I am training for my first too and only 3 weeks behind you! I don’t have much advice but I do think this feeling will pass soon! Keep a good attitude, marathon training wouldn’t be easy or EVERYONE WOULD DO IT!

    1. fitfortherun Post author

      Thank you Sarah! I’m really hoping this is just a phase and I just have to keep reminding myself how awesome I will feel when I finish! It’s so helpful to follow other bloggers who are also training for their first :)

  2. dailycupofkate

    I have experienced runners burnout multiple times while training for a marathon– every run I dreaded. So, this year I changed up my training program to run only 3 times a week (instead of 5) with more cross training and I am loving it!!

    1. fitfortherun Post author

      Are you following a training plan? Do you feel like you will be prepared with only running 3 times a week? I miss strength training!!

      1. dailycupofkate

        I absolutely love strength training! I have been following the plan from Run Less, Run Faster ( and I love it. The speed/tempo runs are definitely challenging, but they are such a great workout. In the book it gives an awesome strength plan to follow as well as a great stretch routine I do after all my runs to keep me injury free. I can already tell I have gotten so much faster!

      2. fitfortherun Post author

        A lady at work is doing this as well and LOVES it.. I’m definitely going to look into it for my next race

  3. runner1313

    Not all runs are great, which you have already figured out. Training for a marathon is not, and should not be easy. It is 26.2 miles, after all. You are putting in the work, but also during what must be a very stressful time, with an upcoming wedding. Just press on, it will be worth it in the end.

    1. fitfortherun Post author

      Thanks Jillienne! I’m taking your advice today and skipping my planned run for an upper body workout :)

  4. Lauren @ The Highlands Life

    Girl, you’re doing a great job!! I totally know what the road to burning out feels like and it isn’t fun! I run no more than 3 days a week to avoid that. One long run, one tempo and one track workout (this is for when I’m training). Have you read Run Less Run Faster? This is a great resource for marathon training and how to avoid burnout and injuries. Good luck!!

    1. fitfortherun Post author

      I haven’t read it, but I’ve been hearing GREAT things about it. I’m definitely going to read it before my next race :)

  5. thesavedrunner

    I am so sorry you are having a runner’s burnout :( I know that must be hard! But I have to say, I am so proud of you for sticking with it and deciding to do the full marathon! You set that as a goal, so you should go for it if your body enables you to do it! But I totally understand feeling so busy and overwhelmed, especially planning a wedding. That was me just a few months ago, and it’s TIRING! Just look to the Lord and your friends and family for strength. Then after your marathon you can always take some time off of running and focus more on strength training!

  6. Amy

    Aw I’m sorry to read that you are feeling this way but I’m also super impressed that you are still so committed to running your marathon! You go girl and you can definitely do it. Thankfully I have not experienced this yet but I am a newbie runner. But I’m glad I know the signs!

  7. Running4two

    Nothing cures runner’s burnout better than a good race! I hope you stick with it and get that runner’s high back! The running highlight of my weekend…3rd place in my age group at a 5k race :).


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