What To Do When You’ve Hit a Running Rut

It’s the worst and I’m in one right now, which is unfortunate timing seeing as ARC Running just kicked off (only plug, I promise).

A running rut is a period of time when running isn’t fun or enjoyable. Your first thought might be, “Uh, that’s all the time for me.” And that’s a different type of beast we’ll cover later on – i.e. how to make running enjoyable.

I’m talking about when you wake up in the morning having willingly set your alarm and laid out your running outfit with all of the best intentions to get up and run.

Then the alarm goes off.

You hit snooze 4, 5, 6 times. And by that time you’re late for work and the run didn’t happen.

Or, maybe you actually get to the part where you’re running, so you’ve already made it pretty far in the process, but you quit after a mile, because your legs are tired, or your stomach hurts, or you’re bored – need I continue?

I’ve gone through periods like this before and here’s my best attempt at helping you get out of your running rut.

Reevaluate why you run.

Ask yourself, “Why do I run?” This is huge. If you’re running to lose weight, for example, and yet stuck in a running rut, you may need to look at running in a different light. Run for a different purpose. What that might look like is instead of running to shed pounds, run towards a different goal. Maybe you’re doing three runs per week. Switch it up to four or five. Push yourself to hit those milestones. It won’t be about the weight loss anymore, it’ll be about the satisfaction of hitting a really tough goal. That shift in intention – hitting greater milestones as a runner – can help you find new inspiration in running.

For me, I run because it’s cathartic, keeps my emotions in check, and helps me figure life out. So, what do I do to find purpose in running when I seem to have lost it?

I like how yogis dedicate their practice to a higher purpose. Michelle Ann Thielen suggests in her article, “Use your practice to become more focused and more keenly aware of what you may want to devote your life’s work to. It will be much bigger than you.” I try taking that approach by saying, “What can I focus on during this run that will help me once I’m done?” Or, “What am I struggling with that I need to figure out?” It seems to help, because it takes my mind off of the actual running part and in the end I’ve figured out something that’s been weighing me down.

But, no one says it better than Ryan Holiday in his article, Why I Run:

Murakami once described running as “both exercise and a metaphor.” The real marathon is life. It’s the doing every day. Running doesn’t need to be justified or applied to some end. You run because keeping a healthy body and clear mind is part of your job as a human being. Because it’s a commitment you made to yourself that you’re obligated to keep no matter how tired, how busy or how burnt out you feel. In other words, it’s practice—proof of your ability—in always having a little bit extra in you.

Basically, just do it.

Change it up.

Sometimes running is just plain boring and you need to spice it up a bit. RunnersWorld has a great article with suggestions on how to change up your running to keep it fun and inspiring. Here’s their list (which, can be found in full here):

  1. Socialize.
  2. Go shorter and faster.
  3. Build strength. 
  4. Reverse course. 
  5. Take your runs off the beaten path.
  6. Run locally. 
  7. Schedule a runcation.
  8. Keep it simple. 

Run clubs are a great way to find that motivation. And, who’s up for a runcation? I could totally use one of those.

Long story short: If you’re in a running rut push through. You’ve got this. Reevaluate your intention behind running to find new inspiration and then switch up how you approach running (i.e. – location, distance, speed, etc.).

Also, sleep helps tremendously. No one likes a tired, grumpy runner.

Posted by

I overcame an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression with the help of this wonderfully amazing thing called running. And that's why I'm here - to share my story and to help those who are going through what I've already gone through. On this blog you'll find running tips, mental health tips, and lots of joy. Join me as we piece life together one run at a time.

2 thoughts on “What To Do When You’ve Hit a Running Rut

  1. First, I run because need to lose weight. As I run and realize running is an exercise that I could have before and after my 8 hour shift at work. And now, running because i love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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