A blog by runners. For runners.

6 ways to stay motivated when dealing with burnout


I stuck to my 16-week marathon training plan like glue, and stayed motivated and excited by training right through the end.

But now that the marathons are behind me? I’m less motivated than ever before. I’m feeling apprehensive instead of enthusiastic about my upcoming races.

There’s no doubt about it – I’m dealing with burnout.

Mental – and physical – burnout is common after big races. I usually subscribe to the “listen to your body” rule, but I can’t really afford to phone in my training right now. Because those races I’ve committed to? They’re a doozy. It’s the runDisney Dopey Challenge – a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon run on consecutive days. Oh, and it’s happening in a month and half.

If I was dealing with physical burnout, I’d take some time off and consider skipping the Challenge. Luckily, I don’t have any aches, pains, or soreness and my body feels recovered from the marathons.

So, I’m using some tricks to stay motivated to run:

  1. Race for fun. I have no time goal for the Dopey Challenge. My only goal is to finish all four races. Racing without a time goal takes a lot of pressure off of me, and allows me to skip intense workouts for the remainder of training.
  2. Follow a loose training plan. Since I’m still in fairly good shape, I don’t have to train too hard to meet my goal. As a result, I’m only making one run per week mandatory – the long run. All other runs are bonuses. If I want to run fast, I will. If I want to cut a run short, I will. If I want to bake cookies instead of run, I will.
  3. Keep it short. During the second half of marathon training, my weekday “short” runs were usually 7 miles. But now 7 miles seems pretty long – isn’t it funny how quickly our perspective changes? I’m allowing myself to log truly short runs again, and it feels great.
  4. Run for time, not distance. I usually run by distance and am pretty strict about sticking to a set pace. I’m trying to run based on time now. Yesterday, instead of doing an easy 5-miler, I ran 20 minutes out, turned around, and ran home. Maybe I ran 5 miles, maybe I didn’t. Not knowing my exact pace and distance covered feels freeing.
  5. Race with a friend. My husband is also doing the Dopey Challenge. Originally we had planned to race each other, and the person with the fastest overall time would be the one to get up early with the kids the following week. This sounded like a good plan in theory, but neither of us have the urge to train hard now. Instead, we’ve decided to run the races together. I don’t want to slow him down, so knowing that he’ll be counting on me helps me get out the door to do my training runs.
  6. Switch up the scenery. I’ve gotten into a rut. I do one of two loops on every single run, and, frankly, I’m bored. This morning, I drove to the other side of town and ran with a friend from her house. The much-needed change in scenery did wonders for my energy levels – and pace. Tomorrow I plan to run on the treadmill. I haven’t hit the treadmill in months and am excited about reuniting with my old “training buddy”.

Written by Jen Matz.