“Ignoring burnout is an absolute predictor for giving-up.”

img_2388There are two primary vulnerabilities that will sideline a runner if not mitigated as part of your training program: 1) Physical injury and, 2) Burnout.  

There are mounds of resources dedicated to early injury identification and prevention.  We spend much less time focusing on burnout, a fact that should strike us all as curious.  I believe that burnout gets less attention because it is easier to attribute failure to decreased efforts, skipping a run, or feeling no excitement about recent accomplishments.  This is very unfortunate as burnout could very likely be the explanation of your lost motivation and pep.

Following is a list of burnout symptoms, followed by methods to jumpstart you right back into your training program.  This information is provided in today’s podcast.

Symptoms of Burnout:

  1. Not looking forward to your next run, and the run after that, and the run after that.
  2. Thinking about your next race leaves you feeling anxious; “did I train hard enough?”
  3. You have no energy, either between training sessions and during.
  4. Normal thoughts of, “Why am I doing this?” lead to you searching for an exit strategy.
  5. You avoid conversations about running.
  6. Your self-worth is noticeably attached to your running performance, more than usual.
  7. You quit altogether.

Treating Burnout with Cognitive Behavioural Judo:

  1. Evaluate your training plan:  Are you running at marathon training levels when your marathon is over a year away?
  2. Allow for rest days, especially after your long run sessions.
  3. Avoid recovery runs.
  4. Notice how many times you use the word “failure” when you think about running performance.  Notice it, recognize how it is attached to your subsequent emotions, then stop it!
  5. Cross-train: Walk.  Hike.  Bike. Go to the gym.
  6. Have a race coming up?  Dare to be average!
  7. Evaluate your nutrition.  Avoid the “treat creep!”
  8. Reward yourself with something big once in a while (new running outfit).
  9. Reward yourself every day with something small for sticking to your plan.
  10. Be willing to take a day off your plan, and still reward yourself.
  11. Evaluate your sleep.  Not getting 8 hrs of restful sleep?  See a professional.

My message today is to not let burnout take you out of the game altogether.  All to often people start running programs and stop because they have lost their stride.  Just telling yourself to “stick to it” will not be enough.  You must be strategic about burnout and how it is effecting you.


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JKP 006 • Avoiding Runner Burnout was last modified: October 5th, 2017 by Jerod Killick
  • Dare to be average! That is fantastic! I put so much pressure on myself to perform well at races and it definitely affects my training. I will definitely keep that thought in mind from now on when training gets tough

  • Difficult for me too. We can’t lose the fun of running. Always shooting for a PB gets in our way I think.

  • Dare to be average! I loved that. I think I spend so much of my time worrying about not being average, and constantly proving myself, that it’s weirdly freeing to think about it this way. I think I’ve hit full-on burnout recently, and weirdly (thankfully?) a calf injury has put me out of the game and forced me to take a few days off. Thanks for this. I’ve saved it for future reading too.

  • Thank you for reading/listening!! :). David Burns and his approach to perfectionism is so very helpful. Burnout is a scary place to be. It’s a balance of pushing through, taking extra time to mend, and understanding that our thinking about running may have become distorted quite insidiously. I have struggled with it and if anything it has made me a stronger runner as I have had to redefine my reasons for doing it.