Forrest can't run.
May 8, 2010 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I run anymore?

About three weeks ago, I competed in an Olympic distance triathlon. I had been training quite a bit and worked up to run between 8-9 miles without a problem. What's more, I enjoyed running--it was a huge stress relief.

After the race, running became extremely arduous. I can't run more than two or three miles without feeling incredibly tired. My legs feel heavy and sometimes my shins or knees start to throb. I think there's part of me that says "oh, I did a triathlon, I don't have to prove anything, I can walk the rest of the way." But there's also a part that feels physical.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? What's going on? Any training tips to combat my mental and physical fatigue?
posted by allymusiqua to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This happened to a friend of mine after running a half-marathon. It was almost a month until she could run normally again. Sorry, no further information, but at least you're not alone.
posted by number9dream at 3:31 PM on May 8, 2010

This sounds like volume-induced overtraining. Reduce your training volume for a week or two while making sure to eat and sleep appropriately, then ramp back up.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:35 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sounds to me like you're simply fatigued. Take a break, do something else for a couple of weeks and try again.
posted by aeighty at 3:35 PM on May 8, 2010

Best answer: I've been running about a year and I have definitely experienced periodic fatigue. For most of March, really, I hated it and found it very difficult most days, but I kept going with shorter runs and now I'm back to enjoying 6+ miles.

I do think it starts as mental fatigue. If you don't have that psychological drive to push yourself, it's very easy to say, "okay, I'm tired," and quit. If you want to keep being a runner, my advice would be to keep at it - this is probably just a phase. If you're experiencing actual pain, though, maybe take a week or two off and concentrate on some other form of exercise for a while.
posted by something something at 3:36 PM on May 8, 2010

so, how long after the race did the difficulty start?

it's not uncommon, after an event for which you trained intensively, for a person to loose enthusiasm. it's a kind of anticlimax, one where you've suddenly lost the motivating goal which originally kept you going. the solution then is to simply to find another goal to aim for.

then there's the possibility that you literally pushed yourself too hard and need to give your body days or even weeks to recover. so, try not to exacerbate the fatigue and lay off the high-intensity stuff. just do light cardio.

finally, you could also be/have been sick. while it would be strange for an illness to make your legs/shins start to hurt, an illness could sap your strength to ignore the pain that may always have been there (running's always going to hurt at some level)

honestly, if you're really worried, go see a sports doctor. perhaps there's something more fundamental at the root of all this.
posted by DavidandConquer at 3:39 PM on May 8, 2010

I always need a week to a week and a half off after a long race. It'll come back, just take a full rest for a number of days (even a week or two) and build back up when you return to it.
posted by xingcat at 3:40 PM on May 8, 2010

Best answer: If you've been through a serious training cycle followed by a serious race or meet, you need time off afterwards for body and mind to recover. The harder you've been pushing yourself and the more amped up you were for the meet, the more important this recovery period is to enable your muscles and central nervous system to relax and rebuild.

This is the fundamental principle behind periodization . . . The body cannot keep going up and up, you try to arrange your programming so that you peak at important competitions, but after that you need to rest because you've presumably burned all your energy out.

Take a week rest. Nothing more than light walking, maybe spinning or playing around in the pool, baby versions of what you've been doing. This is not the time to learn rock-climbing or anything either. Sleep more, make sure you're eating well, see how you feel after that, and ease back in.
posted by Anonymous at 5:11 PM on May 8, 2010

I'm totally with schroedinger... take a week off and truly take it easy.

I ran a half-marathon May 2. This past week I had a brutal work schedule and also a very full Mother's Day weekend schedule. I scaled my running way back - 3 runs, none longer than 5 miles, no worries about pace - and will resume more active training this week for another half-marathon on May 23.

In my experience, this is more mental than anything else. I have another race to look forward to in less than 2 weeks, but, even so, I needed that week off to refresh myself and get ready to run more intensively again. Your conditioning won't suffer unduly and you'll likely feel a lot better when you resume. If you still feel lousy physically after a week, consider seeing your doctor.

Congratulations on your triathlon - what an accomplishment! Don't be too hard on yourself now that your goal has been achieved; I'm sure you'll be back into the swing of things in no time. Consider setting another goal to achieve in a few months' time.
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:39 AM on May 10, 2010

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