Whether you’re a five-time marathoner or a yogi who can jump into crow pose on demand, we’ve all been there — your regular workout feels like a total slogfest. You worry that you’ll never get back to where you once were.
“But what you need to remember,” says Leanne Shear, founder of Uplift Studios and an ACE-certified personal trainer, “is that one, two or even 10 workouts isn’t going to make or break a person.”
So before you prepare to hang up your yoga mat or turn in your running shoes for life, consider these common reasons why your workout might not be working for you anymore, and what you can do to get back to those long-lost endorphins.
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Beat the Burnout
1. Pay Attention to the Signs
Conventional wisdom says that the best workout is the one that you will actually stick with because you enjoy it. But “if running [or any other workout] is taking away from your life instead of adding to it, then it’s not working for you right now,” says running coach Jess Underhill. Other burnout signs may be fatigue or a prolonged lack of desire to go all-in — let alone show up.
The signs are obvious, says Shear, “but it’s hard for most people to acknowledge that this is happening. We are so programmed to push through and be over-achievers and keep going that many people refuse to dial back or change it up.”
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2. Know When to Take a Break
There’s a fine line between pushing through the difficulty to get stronger and your body telling you when to take a break. But there’s a big difference between discomfort and pain, says Bethany Lyons, co-founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga. Any time something causes pain, that’s your body signaling for you to stop doing that thing. You’ll also want to pay close attention to your breath, she says. “If you’re holding your breath or are unable to breath easily, it’s time to abort mission or back off.”
That said, if you’ve been training for a race for several weeks or months, it’s normal to start to feel burnt out at a certain point, says Underhill. “So long as you aren’t injured, don’t quit training — see it through to the finish line,” she says. Just consider scaling back a bit. .“Take a look at your training schedule and see if you’ve included cutback weeks and enough easy runs.” It might be scary to someone who works out regularly, but “taking a week to lighten up physically can actually work wonders both physically and mentally in terms of recovery and rejuvenation,” says Shear.
3. Focus on Your Weaknesses
Are you a runner who neglects strength training when you have a big race on the calendar? Now’s the time to make these your focus, instead of piling on more mileage. But remember to make sure it’s something you want to do, says Lyons, not something you feel like you have to do. For yogis, she recommends cardio as a great complement to the “focus, balance and strength you’ve already gained from your yoga practice.” She also touts focusing on other parts of your practice, such as the breath work and meditation for yogis, or brain training for athletes “The body really responds to variety,” Shear says, “and so does the mind!”
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4. Change Your Perspective
“Being able to run is a privilege,” Underhill says. “Focus on how lucky you are to be able to participate in a sport you love.” She recommends putting pen to paper and writing down all the ways movement enhances your life. Think about why you started doing your favorite activity in the first place.
You can even err on the side of relaxation — bordering on laziness — once in a while, says Shear. “Churning all the time is just as unhealthy as never picking up a dumbbell or strapping on a running shoe.”
If you’ve tried all of these tricks, and nothing works — that’s OK. “This, too, will change, and one day it won’t suck any more,” says Underhill. “On the off chance that one day never comes, find something else. Do what fuels you.”