Why Am I Getting Worse At Running? 10 Reasons Why

It happens. You’ve been soaring high, conquering a challenge after challenge, and then poof. Almost like someone put a spell on you, you’re constantly asking yourself “Why am I getting worse at running?”. You can’t finish the route, your muscles ache more than ever, and let’s not even talk about your current speed decline.

Whatever emotion is bubbling up in you, shelve it for now. You’ll need a clear head if we were to figure things out. Put on your thinking cap and let’s examine all of the things that could be going on.

1. Are you getting bored?

Having a solid routine is a good thing, but if yours becomes a bit too… routine-y, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Boredom can kill motivation and energy faster than you can say, “but, discipline is super important”.

While I agree, a little fun or novelty never killed anyone. In fact, it can even push you to perform better than before.

What To Do

Change your route, shoe style, running technique, environment, and the time of the day when you run..

Here’s a little trick: At the start of each day roll a dice and assign each number to a different option (ie, even numbers are for morning, and uneven are for evening runs).

That way, each day you will either go on a morning run or an evening run depending on the number that was rolled on the dice! You can even take this a step further and do it with the other options listed above!

What Not To Do

Don’t Allow yourself to fall back into your old patterns. If you have to, give someone who is a bit less square control over your routine.

2. Too much or not enough

a hard run vs an easy run

You may have trained too hard, or you may have not done enough. The first makes you worse at running by pushing you to a breaking point, and the other will never allow you to improve.

You are not Goldilocks, and you are not looking for things to be just right. However, you need to be in a place where you can decide if you need to run faster or longer this time, or whether you should take it easy for a change.

What To Do

Learn how to be objective about your needs and abilities. If you’re struggling, talk to some who can review your efforts from an outside perspective.

What Not To Do

Rely on the opinions of people who don’t want to hurt your feelings or can’t wait to cut you down.

3. You’re not feeding your body properly

healthy food

Come on, you should know this. You can’t perform well on a diet of Twinkies and BigMacs. If you don’t put decent fuel into your body, there will be a point when your engine will start breaking down.

And it seems now is that time. Being somebody who is physically active, you must make an effort to get all the nutrients you need.

Tip: Maybe pay some extra attention to iron. Iron deficiency may lead to tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.

What To Do

Clean up your diet as much as possible. If you’re struggling and have no idea how to do it properly, make an appointment with a dietician. And I say dietician because that’s a protected term.

That nutritionist may be perfectly lovely and they might say some things that make sense, but that certificate they have framed on the wall could have been downloaded from the internet.

What Not To Do

Don’t Jump on a new food or diet fad just because someone on Instagram who looks remotely fit raves about it!

4. Maybe you are under too much stress

a stressed woman

Stress has different effects on all of us. I, for example, turn into a person who should win a gold medal for dropping and breaking things.

Constant stress can mess with your running because it blocks your ability to focus. It’s also zapping all your extra energy and sometimes sheer willingness to give it your all.

What To Do

Carve out some “me” time where you’ll do something that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower but it still occupies your mind a lot (ie knitting, or polishing cutlery). If it can give you a sense of accomplishment as well, even better.

In case that running was that thing for you, for now, take it easy and don’t worry about conquering a certain distance or hitting a certain number on the stopwatch.

What not To Do

Try not to turn running, and especially your recent performance, into another source of stress. If you have to run for a shorter distance than normal and then take a break, that’s fine. You do what you have to do!

5. Your equipment or route are not hitting the spot anymore

two different running trails

This has less to do with boredom and it’s more like a band breaking up once they have nothing more to say or when their genre becomes obsolete. You feel like you’ve hit a plateau, and every time you push to break through it, you just get worse and worse. It happens to everyone, no matter what they do.

Tip: Usually, the thing that works best is to shift your focus on another portion of the “project”, so you can continue working on your running, but from a different angle.

What To Do

Switch from long-distance running to sprints or vice versa. Or from even ground to an outdoor trail, or choose a different type of shoe. If we are to go back to our musical analogy if you’re a guitar player that learns to play the keys, mastering this new instrument will help you write better songs and arrangements.

What Not To Do

Don’t be too conservative about the switch. Sprint training can do wonders for your running endurance and that marathon you may be training for!

6. You are not sleeping well

a man trying to sleep

If you sleep well, you could get a lot of rest even when getting just a couple of hours a night. Once you’re properly rested, you will have more energy and focus and will live your whole life better.

However, the lack of good sleep will only bring extra tiredness and fatigue, making all your running sessions very bad.

What To Do

Focus on tiring yourself physically vs mentally. A body that is tired from labor and movement, falls into a deeper sleep, and it does it quicker. Yes, I know, you’re running already.

However, try to top it up with other activities. Even performing tasks standing up instead of sitting down can do the trick.

You can also check out this video which goes over 5 great tips on how to get better sleep…

What Not To Do

Keep your eyes glued to the screen. The blue light is killing your sleep, and the stuff on it tends to contribute to mental and emotional tiredness.

7. Revisit the basics

revisit the basics

You know how ballet dancers do that barre class over and over again, even when they are 20 years stage veterans? A lot of people think it’s their workout for building muscles, but they are wrong.

In each class, they revisit the basic positions and movements as a way to return to basics. Kind of like a lot of cakes are based on eggs, flour, butter, and sugar, choreographies are based on those tendus and batements.

Forgetting how to do them properly can lead to bad performances or even injuries.

What To Do

Practice the running basics – breathing, posture, foot strikes, etc. If at some point you’ve started deviating from the proper technique, it’s probably what’s making you worse at running.

To those who will find this tip annoying, treat it as though you’re taking one step back so you can take two steps forward.

Click here to go over the basics of a great running technique.

What Not To Do

Skip this tip if the basics are not the root of your problems.

8. You may be pregnant

a pregnant woman

Pregnancy can cause tiredness and fatigue very early on, and that will mess with your performance. But I just had my period, I hear you say. Well, women’s bodies are complicated, and some women can have their periods through the whole 40 weeks of baking. So, take the test.

What To Do

Sit down with your OBGYN and have a decent heart to heart. A lot of women can still go running even in the later stages of pregnancy, provided that they have been active runners before and have consulted their doctor.

You will probably have to make certain adjustments, but as long as you listen to your doctor, everything will be more than okay.

What Not To Do

Push yourself just because you “feel fat” or another stupid reason like that. There will be time for dialing up the intensity after the Flash Jr makes his appearance.

9. You are getting old

old woman

I said it, you Methuselah. Age happens to all of us and it will slow us down at some point. This in no way means that you should give up running. In fact, it would be really s… short-sighted to do so.

Staying active will keep you metabolically healthy, prevent numerous age-related illnesses, and maintain the proper function of your brain.

What worth is longevity without vitality, right?

What To Do

Evolve. Change your route, change your shoes, change your technique, etc. You may need to experiment for a bit, but there is a way to continue doing what you love, so take your time to figure things out.

What Not To Do

Skip the talk with your doctor. They will know the best what you need to do to avoid injuries and other issues.

10. You may be ill

an ill woman

I’m sorry to say, but if you are experiencing more pain or chronic fatigue, or you’re lacking energy suddenly, it may be a sign of a bigger problem.

And honestly, it could be anything – allergies, anemia, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, depression, heart issues…any sudden change in the way you feel should raise the alarm.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Most often, this comes as an early sign, and when you diagnose something early, it becomes a lot easier to treat or cure. So, you have my leave to be a bit of a hypochondriac and ring your doctor whenever you had a string of unsatisfactory running sessions.

What To Do

Take a survey of other changes as well. Your skin, hair, nails, and the whites of your eyes also change very quickly when something is wrong. Once you go to your appointment, give all the info to your doctor honestly.

What Not To Do

It’s most likely a mild fever but don’t ignore it, otherwise, you could end up looking like an extra from a zombie film! The sooner you address it, the sooner you will return to your 100%. So sit back, relax, and put your running shoes back in the closet…

Before we part…

Even if one of the reasons you’re getting worse at running doesn’t allow you to go back to your previous condition, it doesn’t mean you can’t run anymore. Never give up! And who knows, you might find even more enjoyment in your new way of running.

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