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5 tips to fight runner fatigue

What To Do About Running Fatigue And Lack Of Energy To Train

One of the most common excuses runners make is “I did not have time to run today“.

While certainly true on some occasions, I believe this to be a myth, a symptom if you will,  for something more likely to be an exercise wrecker. Fatigue.

I work with a lot of runners.  As a result of what I have seen and experienced myself, I strongly believe that fatigue is the number one cause for failing to stick with a running program.  In fact, I would say fatigue contributes to more people falling off the exercise bandwagon than any other reason.  Here’s why.

I strongly believe that fatigue is the number one cause for failing to stick with a running program.

Most of us do not get enough sleep.  Most of us have families, careers, errands and a whole host of things competing for our time.   Because of our ‘hurried’ lifestyle our own health suffers.  We become tired and worn out which leads to the overwhelming feeling of not wanting to exercise.  Instead, we plop ourselves down in front of the TV, the Internet, or relax by reading a book.  In other words, we do not feel like exercising when we are tired.

To add to the fatigue issue, we often eat poorly.  At work, we are in a hurry to get back to a meeting or meet a deadline so we skip the healthy lunch for some fast food.  At night we may not feel like preparing a meal and resort to highly processed food.  Over time the combination of poor nutrition choices and poor lifestyle habits begins to take its toll on us.  Add in stress and when it comes down to it,  we often “don’t feel like running”. Skip a run here and there? No problem. But more often than not, we fall into the mindset that it is OK and each time it gets easier to skip future workouts.

So how do we overcome running fatigue and get our running back on track?

Well,  in most cases, if we are honest with ourselves, we know when we are not making healthy choices. The problem is that we lack the energy to fight these bad habits.  We may not even be aware of this fatigue because in reality, its just part of our modern lifestyle.  But to be successful and fight this lack of energy, we have to take away negative actions and replace them with positive ones.


Here are five tips to fight running fatigue and get back on a regular running schedule:

1.  Get more sleep

Do you ever wonder that in an age where we are supposed to be more efficient, we feel like we are always behind schedule?  The reality is, we bite off too much.   In fact, when we fail to get enough sleep we go into a constant cycle of sleep fatigue until we either catch up, or end up getting sick due to a weakened immune system.

2.  Run Early

I know, I know. Some of you aren’t morning people.  But did you know that there is no biological or physiological reason that makes one person a morning vs. evening person?  It is a culmination of your sleep and waking patterns over time.  Get your run in when you have the most energy and are mentally refreshed.

3.  Make your health your priority before others

You will not only be more productive, but you will have more strength and energy to be more equipped to help others if you are active and healthy.

4.  Take baby steps towards a better diet. 

The best way to eat better, is to take small, baby steps towards a lifestyle change.  Focus on one bad thing you eat for a month and work on replacing that one thing with something healthy.

5.  Drink enough water

running fatigue and drinking waterPut aside the diet drinks and anything containing corn syrup.  It’s poison and total crap.  Replace it with water.   Did you know that the average person is 1-2% dehydrated at any given time?  Just a 2% rate of dehydration can impact your running performance by up to 10%?  Even if you do not run, you will certainly feel more fatigued and tired than normal if you are dehydrated.     Check out this cool info-graphic on the importance of water.


I hope you have enjoyed this article and can see the impacts on how fatigue can rob you of your will to get your run in.  If you have other ideas or suggestions on how to fight fatigue, I would love to hear about it.


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Happy running!



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Steve is a RRCA and USA Track and Field certified running coach and club director for Run Fit Running Club in Central Ohio. He is the host of the Start Running Podcast and Marathon Training Podcast which can be found in iTunes.

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