How to Avoid Running and Workout Burnout

Sometimes you get excited about a workout or running routine and go hard. At that moment, it seems you can maintain that pace, but then you hit a wall. If so, it may be running or workout burnout (aka exercise exhaustion or exercise burnout).  

Photo courtesy of @artofpacing

Generally, workout burnout means fatigue towards an exercise routine followed by subsequent symptoms. And, it is common for those who work out regularly. Moreover, during the pandemic, many gyms closed, and workouts came to homes. This increased burnout due to a lack of variety in atmosphere and activity (repetitive exercise).

How Can You Identify Exercise Burnout?
Sometimes you need a day or two off from an exercise routine. However, if it goes beyond that, you could be suffering from exercise burnout.

Burnout has physical and mental symptoms like:

  • Intense exhaustion/lethargy
  • Physical fatigue, 
  • Recovery delays,
  • Feeling mentally drained/depleted,
  • A decline in performance or progression, 
  • Bored of/dreading working out. 

Furthermore, you can determine if exercise exhaustion is the culprit by answering these questions:

  • Are you training too much?
  • Do you lack the motivation to finish workouts?
  • Are you hitting a plateau in your results?
  • Do you feel more tired than usual?
  • Are you unusually sore after working out?
  • Do you feel exhausted when you finish exercising?

A “yes” answer to all or most of the questions means you may be suffering from workout exhaustion. 

If burnout is the issue, do not push through, but rather be proactive and immediately address burnout to avoid consequences like physical injury and adrenal fatigue.

What Do You Do if You Have Exercise Burnout?There are ways to avoid burnout or make it less severe.  See some of the strategies to beat workout burnout below.

  • Get Rest

Taking time off is essential and is the best way to avoid and defeat work out burnout.

Turning down the intensity and decreasing the number of workout sessions per week goes a long way to reduce stress on the body. So, schedule rest days – essential for preventing and treating exercise burnout. Ideally, take one to two days off a week from your workout routine. However, if you have to work out each day, try low-intensity movements like yoga or walking to be physically active while also promoting rest and recovery.

  • Plan and Integrate Adequate Recovery Time
Photo courtesy of @smcginnis_13.1


Plan a recovery period for any training program you begin. For example, avid runners may want to significantly lower total miles (by 40%) for one week out of a 4-6 week training regimen. Also, weight lifters may want to decrease intensity for a week and focus more on repetitions versus weight. Adequate recovery time is essential if overtraining is the culprit for your exercise burnout. If so, let the recovery period take as long as the body needs; it may take a week.

  • Switch-up Your Exercise Routine

Variety is the spice of life and is essential in exercise to avoid burnout. Sticking to the same form of high-impact workout can fatigue your body. So mix it up by exercising another muscle group or mix high-impact exercise with low-impact ones like pilates, barre, or yoga. Also, this would be the perfect time to try something new

For example, you could take your indoor workout outside by adding an outdoor activity like walking. Time in nature can help counteract burnout and reinvigorate motivation for an exercise routine.   

Workout burnout can happen to any physically active person, and it is important to address it early to avoid repercussions. However, if you have tried to remedy burnout but still feel symptoms, it may be time to set new exercise goals. Exercise is necessary for maintaining physical fitness, but sometimes bodies need rest. Listen to your body, and with the proper steps, you can get back to your regular exercise routine sooner rather than later. 

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