Gotta’ Run: Beating the inevitable running slump

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

A lot of us think that the quality of the day’s run has much to do with our overall day. So what should we do when several days of running are a slog, not up to par and not the boost to the day that we expect?

Over 45 years of running, those slumps have come along occasionally. The energy level is down, it’s harder to push yourself out the door and the struggle to complete the run is much harder than it should be. And then with the memory of several poor runs over the last few days, you begin to expect less than what you should. This run goes south and then there is little excitement for the next day. None of this is normal, so what should we do?

Several factors could be part of the slump. Take time to analyze what is different than usual in your life. Is stress or anxiety a big issue? Has sleep been normal? Are you experiencing high humidity or unusual temperatures, either warm or cold? Is motivation in other parts of your life an issue? All of these are barriers that could be affecting your performance.

It’s time to sit down and make a list of all the reasons you love to run, whether it be the positive physical or mental aspects of a better body and mind. Maybe it’s just because you love the competition with yourself or others, or even that you have a big race coming up.

If the running slump has recently become an issue and you’re doing something different in training, take a hard look at that. Are you training harder than ever before, possibly including a goal that is quite a stretch or significantly more miles than recent weeks or months?

Lots of runners are Type A personalities and they don’t want to hear the word “rest.” Even writing it was hard for me to do. However, the most common reason runners struggle to get themselves out of their slump is lack of proper recovery. Usually, it’s lack of proper recovery that started them on a downward spiral in the first place. Especially if the running goal is long term, like half-marathon or marathon training. Or the goal is to log a lot of miles for some type of personal goal.

Naturally, when runners start to have a bad bout of training or suffer through a series of races, they begin to train harder believing that it is a lack of fitness holding them back. It is all in our nature to keep pushing even when the legs just won’t seem to respond normally.

For sure, a rest day won’t hurt your fitness, nor will two. But those off days are hard to take mentally. I think the most important part is to clear your mind of all the difficult workouts or bad races and begin to turn your thoughts to the future. Instead of focusing on the negative of the past workouts, start each training day anew and with a positive mindset.

Likewise, focus on taking each training session one day at a time. Don’t worry about your previous workouts and don’t fret over a certain training pace for a few days. Concentrate on what you need to do in the moment and how you need to execute for that one workout only. Push less hard and enjoy looking around.

The one thing that always works for me is to stop at Ralph Baker Shoes for the latest new shoes or socks. Anyway, bottom line, do something different and something new, stress less.

The next race locally is the Bare Bones 5k and Fun Run at the Knox Middle School location. Look for this race and others at