One month into my marathon training, I noticed I was loosing all motivation to get out and run. Granted, I was doing the Hanson method which calls for 6 days a week of running, but I was still surprised to be so apathetic about something I loved so much!
I finally experienced an epiphany when I started to skip some of my scheduled runs and I actually felt better doing nothing. Previously, I always felt anxious on rest days. Now, I felt more relaxed and less stressed. I realized I was over-training.
For most runners, this is a hard thing to come to terms with. It’s also difficult to discern the difference between having an “off” day where you just don’t feel like running (which I have at least once a week!) and a genuine “your body needs a break” signal. When in doubt, I’d fall back on what made me realize I was over-training: if you feel better not running then evaluate yourself for other symptoms.
The cure for over-training is ridiculously simple: stop working out! It may only take a few days of rest to recover or it may take a few weeks to months. Give yourself some breathing room and take it easy. It’s okay to cross-train if you really feel like you need to stay active, but try to limit it to give your body a chance to truly reset itself. I took about two weeks off from running and, when I started back again, I decided to give up on the Hanson plan and my original goal finish time and just train for fun. My pace won’t be what I hoped for, but, had I kept pushing myself during my training, I’m certain I wouldn’t have even made it to race day.