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What Happens When You Experience Running Burnout?

Our Marathon Maniac realizes that she can’t always keep up the pace.

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marathon maniac training

“This is stupid. I hate this. This is stupid. I hate this.” Over and over again, those two sentences rolled through my mind for the last, oh, 13 miles of my most recent marathon. I could almost taste the bitterness in every breath as I made my way toward the finish—a line I wasn’t even sure I cared to cross.

Like every runner, I’ve had plenty of bad races. I’ve thought less-than-honorable things about my beloved marathons before while running, but that feeling has always evaporated as soon as I’ve finished. I’ve never doubted that the training and the miles were worth it, but this time, I did. This time was different.

Immediately after crossing the line, I still thought the race was stupid and I still hated it. A week later, I felt the same way. And a week after that, I put myself in time out. My negative thoughts and feelings toward running needed to be evaluated.

When I started training for my first marathon five years ago, I had no idea what a big part of my life running and fitness would become. You might say I’ve become a woman possessed; for a while there, it was challenging for me to have a conversation that didn’t revolve around running in some form or fashion. Take a vacation? Only for a marathon! Go home to visit my family for the holidays? A turkey trot better be involved. (Yes, I was very pleasant to be around.) The fact that I met my now-husband at a time in my life when I traveled for races nearly every weekend is nothing short of miraculous.

Related: The Running Lies I Tell Myself

I realized there hasn’t been a day since I started running that my life hasn’t revolved around training and racing. Even during the long stretches where I’ve been injured, I’ve been plotting my comeback, cross-training like a crazy person and mapping out which states to conquer next. All of that self-imposed pressure came to a head in my last marathon, and the results were ugly.

At one time running was an activity that helped me relieve stress—but somewhere along the way, it started to cause it. That’s no one’s fault but my own. Running deserves better, and so do I.

I’m re-evaluating everything about the sport, from where and when I run to what I eat before a long run, from what type of training program I use to what distance I race. If I feel like it, I might complete my entire training cycle (yes, four full months) without ever wearing my Garmin. When I get my groove back, I hope the reunion will be even sweeter.

Related: Fueling Your Fire For Running

I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but you can avoid becoming a burnout victim by following these tips…

1. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: If you tend to obsess over things, look for the first signs of unhealthy behavior and nip it in the bud.

2. HAVE AN OFFSEASON: After a big race—or whenever you feel like you need to—take a few weeks or months to relax and focus on other forms of fitness. Running will be more fun when you start up again.

3. DON’T OVER- PROGRAM: It may seem like everyone is running 50 races a year, but you don’t have to. Pick events that excite you and work with your schedule.

Danielle Cemprola lives in South Carolina with her husband and Rottweiler. When she’s not running, Danielle blogs at