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How To Climb Out Of A Running Rut

We’ve all felt stuck with running at one point or another. But don’t worry—there are simple things you can do to get yourself back on track.

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Feeling Stuck

When we say that we are stuck, what are we talking about? Are we stuck in our habits? Our repetitive internal dialogue that has less-than-ideal consequences? When we feel stuck, like there is nowhere to go and we can’t move forward, run or exercise—what is actually going on? Well, I’m no psychologist, but I know exactly what “stuck” means and feels like.

If we used to run and love it but now find ourselves unable to lace up our shoes and make the time, what is happening?

Sometimes we have a true case of burnout. Sometimes the thing we once loved is—for whatever reason—no longer serving us. For example, marathon training can be amazing, but it can also lead to burnout depending on the training methods we use. Maybe we think we are stuck and no longer want to run.

So what exactly does “stuck” mean? Being stuck is merely a state of mind where we don’t want to ask ourselves the important questions—and more than that, we don’t really want the answers to those questions.

To get unstuck, we need to know three things:

  • Where we are
  • Who we are
  • Is that enough?

It should always be enough. But sometimes our running goals feel like they aren’t enough. That can lead us to feel like we are also not enough—especially if running is such a part of our identity.

If you find yourself feeling stuck, I challenge you to remember when you first started running. More likely than not, at that time in your life, you weren’t beating yourself up over your running stats. You didn’t run to dig yourself into a hole of self-sabotage or fear.

It was likely quite the opposite, actually.

Most of us began (and continue) to run because we like the sense of accomplishment, the endorphins and the health benefits. We run because it’s hard—but that challenge is one worth taking. We run because it’s time well-spent in our heads. We run because it’s also somehow not time spent in our own heads.

As Gary John Bishop said on one of my recent podcast episodes, “We aren’t thinking—we are thought-ing. We are repeating thoughts, not truly thinking about what we are saying to ourselves.”

Once we are aware of this cycle of internal dialogue, we can change it.

Running isn’t causing that “stuck” feeling. By reframing the thought processes we develop for running, we have the power to refresh the experience so it can once again become a positive activity.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is motivational speaker, IRONMAN triathlete and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You., the completely updated and revised second edition is being released in early 2019. She is the host of the podcast The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. You can download a free triathlon race day checklist here. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children and writes about all things at Her next book, The Year of No Nonsense, is due out in fall of 2019.


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