Amanda Loudin

Written by Amanda Loudin

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7 Ways to Overcome the Runner Blues When You Are Struggling

If anyone tells you that runners don’t get the blues, you know they’re not a runner.

Yes, we enjoy all the lovely endorphins that come with our favorite pastime, but as a runner, we occasionally get depressed. Things like injury, bad races, or even training ruts can all play head games. This is especially common around this time of the year after we trained so hard for a goal race and either didn’t make it to the start line, or just had a bad day.

It can leave us feeling down about not only our running, but about our lives in general when it seems everyone around us is celebrating their big accomplishments.

If you’re feeling a little down on yourself after a recent setback or maybe you are one of those lucky people who just ran a huge PR, but you are suffering from post marathon depression, either way, you’re in the right place.

This post is going to help you feel better about your running future, and give some helpful, actionable tips on how to get over these runner blues, to get back to feeling positive about the sport we love so much (even if you are limited to cross training for a while due to being injured!). You don’t need to try every one, but see what jumps out to you, and use it to help you get your running mojo back.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Is it Normal for a Runner to Feel Depressed?

As a masters runner, odds are you’ve been through this more than a few times.

I know I have.

I’ve had downtimes due to injury (too many in my early 40s!), had the post-big event blues (important marathons), and also dealt with performance disappointment (more than once). In each situation, I turned to a few tried and true measures to pull me back to equilibrium. One, or a combination of multiple, might help you, too.

Physio and best selling author Brad Beer talked about this overlooked concept of our emotional unrest in his book, “You Can Run Pain Free” and on our podcast interview with him. Brad explains that most runners are quite good at managing the physical side of training and injuries, but it is the emotional and psychological challenges that are actually more frustrating.

Brad states, “The scale of emotional unrest will vary depending on how important running is in the life of the runner”. Running becomes a part of how we define ourselves, which can make it difficult to maintain self confidence when that is removed for a period of time due to injury or the awareness that the next race will be a few months away.

How to get over running depression

We know that the mental side of running is one of the most important parts of performing, yet very little attention is paid to why runners struggle with this emotional unrest.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

This might be the toughest to achieve when you’re feeling down about your running. But masters runners in particular, have the benefit of many years and experiences under our belts. Why not use it to our advantage?

Think through your 40-plus years on this earth.

Odds are, those years have included some less than stellar times.

And speaking of temporary—by now you should also have the perspective that most situations in life ARE temporary.
Even if running isn’t where you want it to be at the moment, it will be soon enough. You’ve made it through tougher situations and you’ll make it through this.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Most runners are Type A and Type As don’t like to ask for help (shocker, right?), but now is the time to give in. Turn to your best running friend, your spouse, your friendly neighbor, or even a therapist.

Did you know sports psychologists are well versed in helping athletes struggling with low points? Sports Psychologist Dr Stan Beecham gave some fantastic advice for runners struggling in his podcast interview, but it would help to see someone local if possible.

Do whatever it takes to find an outlet for your blues. It will pay dividends.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Perhaps you have a hole to fill if you aren’t currently training the way you’d like, whether it is due to injury or recovery from a big race.

Your local running club could probably utilize your talents as well.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Worried you’ll look silly or wimpy because you’re walking and not running?

Time to get over that—nobody is paying attention but you!

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

And no, I don’t mean a race!

Find an activity you’d both like to do and make a plan.

As runners, quality time with loved ones sometimes slides by the wayside in favor of training and racing. We know Tom Foreman, author of My Year of Running Dangerously talked about his relationships being put in jeopardy by his ultra marathon training.

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Once when I was sidelined from injury, I signed up for a masters swim program. In my former life as a triathlete, swimming was a big part of my training, but since turning my attention more toward running, swimming had slipped a few notches.

By throwing myself into swimming, I had something to work toward.

Each week I saw my times improve and my fitness along with it. Even better, I had a group with whom to get my sweat on, something that I missed while away from injury. When I did return to running, I was fitter than before I ended up on the disabled list. More important than anything, it kept my spirits up.

Remember, we researched which form of cross training is best for runners, and found that aqua jogging mimics running the most, but other forms of cross training can be equally effective at maintaining fitness.

World Record holder in the mile, Alan Webb, along with Olympic Coach Lynda Huey, and ElliptiGO expert Darren Brown discussed how runners can use cross training to end up in even better shape than through running!

The runner blues are more common than we realize, but are often brushed under the carpet. Why do runners feel depressed after a big race, or especially, after we are sidelined with an injury? Here are 7 helpful tips to help you find your mojo again.

Odds favor that this kind of break will serve as a reset and that before you know it, you’ll be feeling better, enjoying the ride, and preparing to return to your normal training.

Now:

I’ll never deny that running has at times been a source of angst in my life.

But I will stand firm on the notion that as runners, we know enough and have enough resources available to us to make sure that runners blues never last long.

We turned to this sport because it brought us joy and that’s the place we need to keep it—no matter what.

RunnersConnect Master Extra

Had to take some time off recently? Download our one-of-a-kind Performance Decline Calculator to find out what you would run if you raced right now at any distance in your members-only download section.

Click here to access

Not a RunnersConnect Master member? Click here to learn more

And please do us a little favor and share this guide with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them not feel so alone.

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References

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