Some days running, working out and anything involving fitness seems like such a huge task. Those are the days when we struggle to get motivated to head out the door, take far longer than we should to put our sneakers on, and get distracted by everything along the way. And those are the days you want to quit your run.
Or maybe it’s the opposite: you are really motivated when it comes to leaving the house, sneakers and clothes are on in record time and you’re out the door and on your way.
But then your run is going badly. It’s a struggle with every step, you feel tired and lethargic already and the last thing you can imagine is slogging out another 8 miles like this. If you’re thinking you should quit your run, or at least that you want to, maybe you need to ask yourself some questions to make sure quitting isn’t going to leave you more upset than just pounding it out, and more than that find out why you feel this way in the first place so you don’t let it happen again!
- What’s your stress level like? Everything seems worse when you’re stressed, harder when you’re stressed and far more impossible when you’re stressed. Your fuse is shorter, your patience less and your tolerance lower. And despite how much you think you don’t want to run, or don’t have enough time to run, you may actually benefit yourself more by running. Running is a great way to relieve stress, both due to the endorphin release, the sweating, and just being outside in the fresh air, unplugged from technology, work etc. And likely, you just have to run a little past that point of wanting to quit, thinking “this is not a good use of my time,” “I’m silly for even trying to fit this in tonight,” etc. etc. before you switch over to being really relieved you are out there and realizing how much it is going to help you be less stressed!
- How well did you fuel? If every step is a struggle, your legs feel like lead, your runs seem really hard, and you feel like you are 10 times less fit than you were yesterday – and as a result you just want to quit and walk home – it may just be that you didn’t fuel properly. Maybe you ate on a different schedule that day, maybe you had fewer carbohydrates than usual, or maybe you have just been eating badly instead of having your usual daily health hits. Any of these can have an impact on your fuel, and that can have a huge impact on your running and how much you feel (or don’t feel) like being out there pounding out your miles.
- Have you changed your training an lately? You’ve signed up for a new race, started training for a different distance, or simply incorporated more cross training into your routine. Whatever the case, it can be hard to make the adjustment, and even harder when you don’t see success from it right away. And as a result, it can make you doubt what you’re doing and want to quit alteogether and just go back to what you were doing before that you knew and was comfortable. Before you do that though, look at the bigger picture. Recognize that in the short term, you may see minimal progress, but that it’s the long term that you are going for. Think of the fact that the race isn’t for another 12 weeks, and that if you stick to your program now, you can make tremendous strides in that amount of time!
- Have you been running or working out more than usual? Double runs, runs plus cross training, longer runs and more strength training, whatever the case, these can all make your performance suffer and make you want to quit what you’re doing if you aren’t backing them with proper fuel and recovery. Have a look at why you are doing double runs or adding cross training, and if it is for a genuine reason that you know will require your intesnsifed effort (like training for a triathlon, or doing a Spartan race), then keep it up and alter other things such as your fuel, running times or recoevry times.
- Is it a different time of day than when you usually run? Every time I think I feel more like staying in bed in the morning and say “I’ll just run tonight,” I remind myself that running at night, after a long day of work, makes me want to quit running, hate it, or not even want to go at all. If work, life or other obstacles are making you change up your running time, don’t quit, figure out how to make it work. Maybe you have to get up extra early to fit it in in the morning anyways, or maybe you just need to fuel better in the afternoon in preparation for the evening. Whatever the case, don’t look at quitting as the solution, look for a solution and alter things to make it work.
- What are the consequences of missing your run? If you aren’t training for anything in particular, have a bit of a tough week, and are just plain exhausted, skipping a run won’t likely have that big of an impact and maybe just what you need to get you refreshed for the next day. If you’re in the throes of marathon training however, and have thigns planned right down to the exact week, skipping a long run or quitting it part way through and not finishing could have a bigger consequence later and leave you feeling more regretful than you may have hoped. Think about the long term impact and remember that you can do anything for 10 minutes and just push through right now for 30 minutes longer!
- Where’s your head at? Maybe the real thing is just that you aren’t at your best in terms of your mental training. We all know, that sometimes, running requires more from you mentally than physically, and if your runs seem off and things seem to be going awry, it may just be that you aren’t at your best in your mental game. That’s okay! You can work on improving it, and even more than that, it’s okay if you just need a little break and need to take your head out of the game for a while. Running induces its own stresses and pressures that have a big impact on your mental wellbeing, and it means that sometimes we just need a break from it. This can be especially true if you’ve had a lot of setbacks lately, like not achieving your race goals, or times not being where you want them to be. Train your brain and work on improving your mental game, but cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break as well.