How To Treat & Prevent Burnouts While Running

Consistent training helps you lose weight, improves your conditioning, and will get you in the best shape of your life.

But it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, whether you’re an elite runner or a beginner trying to get fit.

Enter running burnouts, a common issue for those who regularly log in the miles.

The trick to dealing with and preventing running burnouts is to follow an exercise plan that’s both effective and enjoyable. And how can you do that? That’s where this post comes in handy.

In today’s article, I’ll explain what running burnouts are all about then share a few tips on how to manage and prevents them for good.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

What is Running Burnout?

Regular training is key to optimal performance and good health, but your body can only take so much.

Also known as overtraining, running burnouts occur when you engage in extended periods of intense exercise without sufficient rest or appropriate training periodization.

Running burnout can be caused by two things: either overtraining or under-recovery, and can result in a plethora of symptoms such as extreme fatigue, injury, and poor performance (more on this later).

You could also get overtrained when you suddenly change your training volume and/or intensity and without giving your body enough time to readapt to the new load.

The first step for preventing running burnout is to be aware of overtraining and its warning signs.

Here’s what you need to know about them.

Burnouts Symptoms

Pay attention to your body indicators to gauge when to keep going forward and when to back off by learning to recognize these warning signs.

Altered heart rate

A spike of 10 bpm or more indicates that your body hasn’t yet fully recovered.

Measure it before you get out of bed and start your day, and take a day or two off whenever your heart rate is significantly elevated—eight or more beats per minute.

Keep in mind that the average person’s resting heart rate is around 60 to 90 bpm. But if you’re super fit, expect your average resting heart rate to be around 40-50 bps or so.

More injuries

Are you getting injured more often these days?

If it’s the case, then you might be logging in too many gym hours.

When you push your body more than it can handle, you’re practically depriving it of the time it needs to recover and repair itself between the hard workout.

This makes you prone to overuse syndrome, which amplifies your risk of injury to your joints, tendons, and ligaments. And you don’t want that.

Lack of motivation

If you are an avid gym rat but suddenly lose the zest to exercise, then you’re probably forcing your body beyond its current ability.

Low Energy Levels

A burnout may overstimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to an increased in cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and a decrease in testosterone (the growth hormone) levels, which can result in overwhelming fatigue and low energy levels.

Chronic Soreness

It’s normal to have muscle soreness for a couple of days following a hard workout.

Soreness—especially in the muscles, joints, bones, or limbs—that doesn’t subside after three days or more is another telltale sign of overtraining.

Chronic Sickness

If you are getting sick more than often than usual—whether it’s the common cold, sniffles, congestions, headaches, little coughs, you name it—then your running routine might be to blame.

Persistent illnesses—especially upper respiratory tract infections—are usually some of the earliest warning signs of overtraining.

Chronic Fatigue

Overtraining increases the span of time it takes for your body to recover between runs or workouts.  That’s why feeling chronically tired and sluggish throughout the day is another sign that you might be doing too much

Halted progress

Contrary to popular belief, logging in endless miles is not the best way to improve your running performance. Overexert yourself and your body might be heading in the opposite direction of growth.

Undesired weight loss

When you set your intentions on losing weight, then it happens. You feel great. But unwanted weight loss is a sure sign that you’re doing too often or too intensely.

Mood Swings

Irritability is a sign of a burned-out runner. When you log in more miles than you should, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol that can cause anxiety and other mood troubles.

Your body is also under too much stress and is less tolerant of the world around you.

Dehydration

Your pee color can also help you identify overtraining. If your pee is dark yellow, you’re more likely to suffer from overtraining.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation hinders the release of growth hormones which is essential for rebuilding muscle fibers.

How To Handle Burnouts While Running

The best way to deal with running burnouts is to not get them in the first place. This is achieved by paying attention to its early warning signs in order to stop it in its track before it gets any worse. You can do the same by counting your red flags

GREEN LIGHT 0-2

You are safe to push harder

CAUTION 3-4

You can go ahead with your training program, but you need to reduce the duration and intensity of your hard workouts, at least as soon as you get rid of the noticed watched symptoms.

DANGER ZONE 5-9

If you count more than five warming signs, then you’re definitely into the danger zone.

Your recovery time depends, for the most part, on how overtrained you’re. The more symptoms you suffer from, the more recovery.

This could range from a couple of days, a few weeks, or you may even need to visit a doctor.

woman training for race pace

How To Prevent Running Burnouts

So what else can do you do to keep burnouts risk low? Simple.

Make it a rule to approach your running recovery the same way you do your training. Yes, recovery is that important, even more so.

Here are a few strategies to give you a recovery edge.

Recovery Days

The first step to prevent running burnout is to take plenty of rest days.

Add forced recovery days into your running program, as well as varying your training intensity, especially any form of active recovery exercises.

As a rule, plan at least one to two days off exercise each week to prevent burnout.

On your non-running days, feel free to cross-training, opting for low-impact activities, such as low-intensity biking, yoga, aquatic running, and rowing.

Recovery Weeks

Another measure to ensure proper recovery is to periodize your running plan in a way that improves performance without risking injury or overtraining.

And it’s simple.

Introduce a lower-intensity, lower-duration week—also known as recovery week—into your training program every third or fourth week.

Better sleep

Good sleep is the backbone of superior performance, whether you’re an elite running or a 500 company CEO.

Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a day ensures proper recovery and guarantees that your body is releasing the necessary hormones for recovery and growth.

Nutritious diet

Your body needs the right fuel—complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats—to make the most of your training program.

Timing your meals is key as well. To get the most out of it, make sure to make the pre-and post-workout diet part and parcel of your training program.

Consult A Professional

And in case you feel seriously depressed, see your psychologist, physiotherapist, or doctor for a thorough assessment of your condition.

Conclusion

Every serious runner needs to learn how to deal with and prevent running burnouts when training. Don’t let your problems eat you from the inside. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training hard.