Believe it or not, it is perfectly normal to experience running fatigue after a long run. Especially when engaging in heavy training, your body will get tired. When it comes to tired runners, there are things that can be done to help ensure you aren’t super tired all the time, even through the peak of your training.
What Is Running Fatigue?
If a runner is just logging miles recreationally, running fatigue is unlikely to occur. However, when an athlete is in deep training and consistently logging high mileage, that fatigue will accumulate. What happens is your body has not fully recovered from the previous run so your fatigue is building up from one workout to the next. In essence, you are always beginning the next workout a little bit tired.
The thing is, this is actually a very important part of training for most runners. Why? Because if you are training for a marathon or ultra, you likely will not run the full distance in a workout. However, you do need to get acclimated to running on tired legs.
The only way to do that is to not fully recover between workouts. In that way, your fatigue is a build-up of your entire training cycle.
Long Run Fatigue
It is perfectly normal to be tired after a long run. When you run long distances your body depletes itself. Not only have you expended a lot of energy but you have also put a significant amount of demand on your body in other regards. For example, during a twenty miler you are on your feet for a long time.
Not only is your body tired, but pounding the pavement for that long is hard on your feet and legs.
In addition to that, you are burning calories while moving forward. You need to be sure you are fueling properly. Also worth taking into consideration is the overall training program you have committed to. It is smart to actually plan out your training cycle so that it is deliberate.
Preventing Long Run Fatigue
Adequate fueling is one way to prevent excessive fatigue leading to tired runners. Your body needs to be fueled properly just like a sports car requires high octane gasoline. Many people focus on just fueling during the run, and that is very important. Most athletes need some fuel for every 45 minutes of exercise they are doing.
You should also consider the fueling that happens before a long run. If you are planning to ask a lot of your body, you need to give it adequate fuel to perform the tasks. This is where breakfast is important on the morning of a long run. Taking in adequate fuel, such as simple carbohydrates, can help you to prevent hitting that wall during your workout.
In addition to fueling before and during your workout, you should always replenish your stores after a long run. Carbohydrates and protein should be taken in within 30 minutes of a long run. This helps set your body on the best path to recovery.
Hydration is another important aspect of fatigue prevention. If you are not adequately hydrated your body cannot perform the tasks you are asking of it. Remember that your body requires water before you realize you are thirsty in order to stay in top form.
Sleep is also important if you want to prevent fatigue. Some people fail to get enough sleep then wonder why their body is not doing what they are asking of it.
How Do I Overcome Fatigue When I Run
While training hard is an excellent thing, it is also important to be smart. One way to overcome fatigue is to properly plan your training weeks and months. If you plan things out correctly, you will work in a step-back week for every two to three weeks of hard training.
You also should set up your workout week so that you have either a rest day or a zero/low impact day after long runs. Doing so will help in your recovery process.
A stepback week will either involve running less overall mileage by anywhere from 25-50 percent every few weeks or just scaling back on the intensity of the workouts for the week. Another option is fewer miles for the weekly long run to add some spring in your step.
Why Balanced Training Is Important
Balanced training is exactly what any runner needs to stay healthy and avoid fatigue. For example, if you run 5 days a week at full tilt, your body likely will start to suffer. This is why any workout regime needs balance.
When planning your program, look at both the big picture and the smaller picture. I like to plan my training program in 3-week snippets. Start with the end goal in mind. For example a half marathon in 12 weeks.
Ask yourself how far you want to run as a longest run prior to race day and also figure out how many miles per week you wish to run. That gives you a starting point. Next, what day of the week do you wish to do your long runs? Plug those into the calendar.
Do you like step back weeks where your weekly long run is a bit shorter? Figure in for those. You should also consider if you want a non-impact cross-training day after long runs. You guessed it, work those in also.
The next step is to look at the dynamics of each week. You may wish for one day of speed, one day of tempo a long run and the other runs can just be runs with no particular goal in mind. This gives you balance so you aren’t trying to put too much speed or too many long runs into the plan.
Working in balance is a crucial part of staying both physically and mentally healthy.
Is It Bad To Run When Tired?
Tired runners may find themselves wondering if it is bad to run when fatigued. On the one hand, it is a necessary part of the training process. However, you don’t want to overdo it. Again, this is where balance comes into play.
It is always in a runner’s best interest to be cognizant of what their body is telling them. While running when tired helps build stamina and will give you the experience needed to fight through fatigue in a distance race, overdoing it can lead to problems.
If you are tired it may be your body trying to tell you something. You can be kind and patient with yourself and still be an exceptional athlete!