Fatigue is something all runners face. Especially those of us diligently training for fall or winter marathon. The long runs begin to pile up and do enough of them hard enough (without adequate rest) can result in a general feeling of simply being tired. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It’s quite common, but you can also do something about it by following a few handy tips.
You can beat that tuckered out, drained feeling, regain some of your buzz and put a little spring back into your step if you follow these simple, common-sense hints:
1. Get plenty of sleep. This may seem obvious, but when you’re following a training program (possibly for a fall marathon or half) you need to make absolutely certain to get adequate rest and sleep. Your body needs sleep in order to recharge itself. If you are having any trouble sleeping, then try to develop a better sleep routine such as going to bed and getting up at the same time. You could also improve your sleeping environment by making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable. Also, by using your bedroom for sleep alone, your body will come to associate it with sleeping rather than reading, snacking or watching TV.
2. Reduce stress. Easier said than done—right?–but stress is one of the most common reasons for feeling tired. If you can reduce your stress level, it will naturally help to alleviate your tired feeling. There are several ways to tackle stress, but the most important thing to do is identify the root cause of the stress and deal with it. Look at your other options that can improve the situation. Also, make sure you switch off from work mode in your leisure time and try out some relaxation techniques such as having a massage, taking a yoga class or listening to some music.
3. Eat well. Your diet has a huge impact on your energy levels. Without a proper, well-balanced diet, any runner will feel sluggish and fatigued. Eating healthy, nutritious meals is essential to a runner’s success. Don’t skip meals to lose weight, especially breakfast. If you do, you’ll be forced to run on empty. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable is also important to avoid fatigue so make sure you eat enough carbohydrates.
4. Avoid caffeine in the evening. While caffeine might be great for giving you an energy boost in the morning, you should eliminate it in the evening or it may lead to a restless night of sleep. Don’t just avoid coffee at night. Also eliminate tea, instant energy drinks, chocolate and cola drinks.
5. Chill out. Many runners are Type A personalities who take on way too many responsibilities and get in the habit of trying to do too much. The demands they are putting on themselves may leave them feeling very flat and wasted. Slow down and take some time to chill out every day. Take a few moments to relax and slow down. Develop realistic expectations about what you can achieve rather than running yourself into the ground by trying to do too much and adding marathon training on top of that.
6. Exercise to boost your energy levels. Since you’re a runner, you already know this. But let it be said one more time, a daily run is a great way of boosting your energy levels and avoiding fatigue. But not too many long runs or speed workouts or races. Follow your training schedules, particularly on the easy days.
7. Stay hydrated. By now, we have all had it drummed into our head the importance of keeping well-hydrated throughout the day. But it is absolutely imperative to preventing that tired, run down feeling. The recommended daily amount is around eight cups per day, but this depends on other factors such as your work environment or how much running you do and when you do it. Water makes up 80 percent of our brain so clearly poor hydration can adversely affect your mental outlook as well as your physical performance. The best way to stay well-hydrated throughout each day is to have a water bottle handy at all times.
8. Try to avoid alcohol. While alcohol can help you relax, it can also have the effect of making you feel tired – both in the long-term and the short-term. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and acts as a sedative. That’s why those lunchtime drinks may make you woozy and lackluster in the afternoon. Alcohol can also adversely affect your sleep patterns, particularly if you drink just before bed. If you do drink before bed, it might help you crash out initially but your sleep pattern will be disturbed. Also, on the following day, you may have to suffer both the effects of a hangover and the associated tiredness—both are obviously detrimental to running or walking.
9. Try alternative therapies. Many of the holistic, alternative therapies that promote relaxation can be helpful for alleviating the chronic fatigue of summer. Reflexology, aromatherapy, acupuncture, yoga and massage are just some of the relaxation techniques that are easy to try in Austin where alternative therapies abound. A more relaxed you means your body will be able recharge itself more effectively and you’ll probably also have much more quality sleep time.
10. Get outside and breathe fresh, clean air. Being outside can be a great tonic for fatigue. Just a few minutes outside during your lunch break—even if it’s hot– breathing in some fresh air can put the spring back in your step. The body thrives on getting sunlight. Try and get outside at least two or three times a day during the daylight and you’ll get an energy boost.