Tips for Overcoming a Running Slump

Clearly my running slump has been the theme of my blog lately, right? But this blog is (mostly) about running, so typically these themes emerge as I document my training. Today’s post is intended to help others, but also myself. Using your helpful comments from last week’s post as well as some research, I put together a list of strategies to help with overcoming those time periods where our running just isn’t progressing as we would like. 

Feeling like your running just isn't progressing the way you would like? Here are some ways to overcome a running slump!1.Track your training   Start writing down all of your workouts, and use that information to guide your running schedule. Make notes about how you feel before, during, and after a run. Keep track of your shoes here too so you know when it’s time to replace them! Pay attention to when you are doing your strength workouts and how that may impact your running, along with how many rest days you take each week.

journal 2.Consider other life factors that could impact stress levels   Our bodies can’t recognize the difference between “training stress” and “life stress”, so if one is high it could impact the other. Even during periods of low mileage, if we are dealing with a stressful time at work or in other areas of our lives it can definitely affect running. 

3.Focus on recovery   Are you sleeping enough? Eating well? Taking enough rest days? Foam rolling or doing other strategies to help your muscles recover? Giving yourself a mental break? 

foam rolling

4.Set a goal   Sometimes a running slump can simply be due to “going through the motions”with no real goal in mind. Setting a goal like a race or even something related to a particular workout or long run can help. 

5.Find intrinsic motivation   While it’s good to have goals, they are less meaningful if they don’t come from within ourselves. Try to think about your “why”. Why do you run? Why do you want to improve? Why did you start exercising to begin with? Why are you frustrated with your training? Once you figure out your internal motivation, it will be easier to call upon that when working towards your goals.

6.Try something new   Sometimes we may just get sick of running (gasp!) and that’s ok! There are so many other ways to exercise, and by doing a different activity it could lead to a renewed sense of running enjoyment when we return to the sport. (Click here to view strength training workouts on Pinterest!)


7.Take some time off or cut back significantly   Burnout is a real thing, and it’s important not to push through when we start to notice signs that our bodies need a break. This can often lead to injury or other health issues. It’s good to take a week or two off each year, especially during the off-season, and it can also be helpful to schedule cut-back weeks regularly.

8.Respect where you are   If you look at some of the comments from last week’s post about this, many runners can relate to the idea that sometimes our bodies just do not cooperate in the way we would like them to and there is often no rhyme or reason to this. It’s best to just accept this, and train in a way that feels right at the time. Just believe that your speed/endurance/motivation will come back when the time is right!


How do you overcome a running slump?

Do you take time off running when things aren’t going well?

How do you keep track of your training? 


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46 thoughts on “Tips for Overcoming a Running Slump

  1. Great ideas here! I don’t often find myself in a slump but if I start to feel like running isn’t interesting to me, I cross train or run less and then I feel better and back to my running normal. I also think that running too many races can cause the burn out too, at least from what I see others go through. I only run a few a year and it’s probably for the best.

  2. Lately I’ve been in a weird place where mentally and physically I’m feeling really good and highly motivated when it comes to running. My body is super fatigued though, in ways that are not related to running at all. I’m looking forward to my blood test results to find out what’s going on. Stress could be a part of it (we’re going through changes at work) but I think it’s probably something else too.

    Thanks as always for providing helpful tips and advice!
    Kristina recently posted…A Change in My Spring Training Plans (Flirting with the Hansons and Here’s Why…)My Profile

  3. I use an online site to track my training – I love using that, but I’m always afraid what happens if the site goes away? Will I lose all my training documentation?? I’d certainly hope that wouldn’t happen, but I like how I can see graphs and it adds everything up for me, etc. I could probably do the same on my own in Excel though too. And of course my blog to write more in-depth about my training! It’s always fun to go back and read what I wrote about some of my runs.

  4. This is a great post. Normally February is my running slump month but to be honest, I think March has been worse for me. I haven’t been progressing as I would like. These are great tips and I think that anyone can benefit from tracking their mileage at any time!

  5. I absolutely take time off when things aren’t going well or when I feel ‘blah.’ I try to always maintain a decent base, but I don’t force myself to run if I’m just not feeling it because I know if I do, I’ll just get irritated even more. I actually don’t keep track of training unless I’m training for a specific race, then I’ll write my workouts down in my planner.
    Jen B. recently posted…Weekend Wrap-Up + Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon!My Profile

  6. Great post! I love that you took the time to research and make thoughtful suggestions instead of just the usual “treat yourself to new running gear!” or “find a new route!” Also, that’s very interesting that the body can’t recognize the difference between training stress and life stress. I just learned something new!

    Taking time off is so important to me. I was so burned out after my goal marathon last June that I had to take an entire 6 months off from “training” for anything. I still ran, but only 2-3 times a week and a few times took the entire week off. It was a weird time for me, because I craved the structure of training to bust out of my rut but I also knew I just wasn’t ready for it yet. I learned a valuable lesson from that though, and now I know I need to prioritize post race recovery, and be more selective about goal-setting and committing to races. Improvement is great, but it comes and goes like seasons and needs to be balanced with unstructured time for best results :)

  7. I mix things up so I don’t get bored. I don’t think I’ve had burnout since I started running, but I have a self-imposed break every summer. I can focus on strength training during that time and only run occasionally.
    Lesley recently posted…Random ThoughtsMy Profile

  8. Hmm… this is making me think. And maybe I’ll get criticized for this but it’s better to just be honest. I think… that I don’t *allow* myself to get into a slump. Like, I push through it I guess, to build mental strength. For me, running is my freedom, my time alone, my mental health, so if I feel like ugh, not going for a run that day because it’s rainy or windy or cold, then it’s almost like at that point I KNOW I have to go because the reward will be that much greater. And it always is, even if it’s a bad run and maybe even especially if it’s a bad run because my mind will be that much stronger. I’ll feel like I can get through anything.
    Suzy recently posted…PositiveMy Profile

    • I don’t think anyone would criticize you for that. We all have different ways to approach things and what works for one person might now work for someone else. I think the slump happens when a tough run happens every day, and mentally we don’t feel better after the run. It sounds like the difference for you is that after all of these runs you feel better. I also know that I can’t handle running every day, so I really want to make the runs I do go on count and be as good as possible.

  9. Excellent post, thank you! I really think that the ‘life stress’ factor is huge when it comes to the energy we have available for our training. If you have a lot of emotional and mental stress in your life, it can beat you down to a pulp….to the point where you are lying in bed trying to sleep, and every muscle in your neck and chest is so tight that it’s seems impossible to relax. This definitely takes a toll on our day to day energy and motivation I think.

  10. I love using the Believe journal to track my training! These are great tips, thanks for sharing. Usually I find that signing up for a race gets me motivated again, but sometimes I just cut back on running and do other classes and workouts. Usually I start craving a run pretty quick!

  11. I’m not recording my training, except for the amount of miles I hope to be able to run by the end of each month. But having a goal is really helping me through the ups and downs, and setbacks. I am trying to visualize being there on race day when I get tired during practice runs. :)
    Emma @myfullfatlife recently posted…A hike to the farmMy Profile

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