6 Signs You’re In A Running Rut


Like dat­ing, not all runs are win­ners, but when they are, you walk away feel­ing like a mil­lion bucks. Any run­ner knows what we’re talk­ing about here; that run where you push hard and love it, smile as sweat drips into your eyes, and fin­ish hard­er than you start­ed. That feel­ing is why run­ners push through those many dif­fi­cult runs and still get up with the sun and lace their shoes up the next day; you nev­er know when you’re going to have an amaz­ing run.

How­ev­er, some­times it seems a bit too long between those sat­is­fy­ing runs. Some­times it feels like you’ve been just grind­ing away for weeks or even months with noth­ing to show for it. In oth­er words, you’re stuck in a run­ning rut. The thing about a rut, though, is that some­times you fall into it so grad­u­al­ly, or you’ve been in it for so long that you don’t even real­ize you’re in one. If you think this may be you, read on for some sure-fire signs that your run­ning has hit ‘rut’ status.

Route Rerun
Do you only have two or three routes to chose from? Many run­ners fall prey to this–they find a route that works well and they stick with it. Sure, it gets a point for con­ve­nience, but it los­es over­all for being bor­ing as hell. No won­der you’re in a rut! Think how you’d feel if you only ate one or two foods day in and day out. Check with local run­ning stores, clubs, sites, or friends for some new route sug­ges­tions. Need­ing ‘a change of scenery’ isn’t just an expres­sion, when tak­en lit­er­al­ly, it real­ly can put a whole new per­spec­tive on things.

Plateau In Fit­ness
Per­haps you start­ed run­ning to lose weight, firm up, or improve at anoth­er sport you love. What­ev­er your rea­son was, you like­ly saw some big changes those first few months; changes that may have slowed down or even stalled by now. If that is the case, it’s easy to get dis­cour­aged and start los­ing faith or inter­est in run­ning. Often times, how­ev­er, all that’s need­ed to start see­ing improve­ments and changes again are a few tweaks to your work­out: throw in a hill day; add an inter­val work­out once a week; change up the type of ter­rain you’re run­ning on; or even recruit a partner. 

Dread­ing Your Run
Is it get­ting hard­er and hard­er to drag your­self out the door, but you’re not sure why? No one is forc­ing you to run now, just as no one forced you to start run­ning in the first place. If you’re in a rut, that’s a good place to start–remind your­self why you start­ed run­ning in the first place. Maybe things have changed in your life and that rea­son is no longer enough, or per­haps you’ve accom­plished that orig­i­nal moti­vat­ing goal. Some­times, all it takes is you tak­ing the time to stop and real­ize that, pat your­self on the back for mov­ing for­ward in life, and find your new moti­va­tion to continue.

Skip­ping Runs
While wal­low­ing in the depths of a run­ning rut, it’s eas­i­er than ever to talk your­self into skip­ping runs for rea­sons you nor­mal­ly would not. For instance, if you’re telling your­self you had a real­ly stress­ful day at the office, so you deserve to take the evening off and just veg out on the couch to clear you mind, it’s time to stop and think. Isn’t a stress­ful day at the office all the more rea­son to get out there and run? What clears the mind and low­ers stress more than exercise?

Lost Pas­sion
Per­haps you’re still able to get out the door reg­u­lar­ly, but has it been weeks or months since you felt any desire to go longer, far­ther, or sign up for a new race? If you’re not smil­ing when you’re talk­ing about why you run these days, chances are your pas­sion has dwin­dled. But fear not–it’s not lost for­ev­er! Give your­self per­mis­sion to take a whole week off, and then spend that week either remem­ber­ing why you start­ed and get­ting excit­ed about it again, or find new goals and moti­va­tions to stoke those coals under your ass.

If you do the same work­out every day, your body (and mind) is bound to get tired, worn, and pos­si­bly injured. The sil­ver lin­ing of injury is that it opens up some time you didn’t pre­vi­ous­ly have; why not use this time to devel­op some new routes, research new stretch­es to try, and look into some cross-train­ing activ­i­ties to try–anything to mix up your rou­tine a bit?

Ruts are a nor­mal pit stop in a runner’s long career, but there’s no rea­son to hang out in one. Iden­ti­fy that you’ve been stuck and do what it takes to keep mov­ing forward.

By Audra Run­dle