Running Is Stressing Me Out

I started running last summer. At first I ran for 20 minutes. Then I ran for 25 minutes. Then I ran for 30 minutes. Then I signed up for a 10K and loved running it. Now I’ve run two half-marathons and I’m training for my first marathon. I never thought I’d be able to do this (or want to) but running became the most inexpensive kind of therapy when I was going through a bunch of changes: I moved back home, started my first job, broke-up with my first love, had to make new friends and all around “figure a bunch of stuff out.” Some people take to wine or chocolate when things are tough (both great options) but me, I took to running.

Unfortunately, now running has become more of a stress inducer rather than a stress reliever. I have been literally forcing myself out of the door to train for this marathon. “Gosh, she is so ungrateful. She has this wonderful opportunity with Saucony, Morganne, and a bunch of other runners, to race in Hawaii. What a brat.” (<— that’s supposed to be you talking). I know, and I didn’t want to write this post because I don’t want to sound like a brat. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. But the truth is: running is stressing me out right now.

  • Running is stressing my knee: it’s much better but certainly gets really swollen
  • Running is stressing my cortisol levels: eat. all. the. sugar
  • Running is stressing my mind: need to follow the plan; need to run faster…
  • Running is stressing my social life: “Sorry, I need to get my long run in.”
  • Running is stressing my skin: hello, breakouts.
  • Running is stressing my eating: Fuel! Eat enough!
  • I’m stressed about running stressing me out.

Running Tweet

So what gives? I’m supposed to love running. It’s supposed to be my outlet. I’m supposed to just put on my shoes, go, and get lost in my thoughts. But I haven’t been. I’ve been feeling isolated and stressed. Since falling in love with CrossFit, I’ve been sweating with people – and that’s been making a difference. They are supporting you, pushing you, laughing with you and crying with you. I run alone and well, that gets lonely. So yes: I post pictures of my Garmin to Instagram to get a bit of a boost from this community.

Running is also supposed to be good for us… activity, sweating, endorphins, being outside. Yes, yes, that’s all awesome (and running bloggers may hate me for this) but the more I experience it and better understand how our body’s work… I’m not sure if running super-long or super-far is necessarily all that healthy. Gasp. Exercise in general releases AND causes stress so we need to rest, balance and listen to our bodies. Running certainly takes a toll on our bodies (especially women) and I’m feeling it: both emotionally and physically. But yes, I want to cross the finish line.

So what to do?

Well I first want to regain a love for running (or at least not hate it). I have been ditching my Garmin this week and that has been helping. I need to legit find new running routes because running to McDonald’s and back is depressing. I have hopefully found a few running buddies so I won’t be alone on the run 24/7. I also am trying not to be so hard on myself and realize that it’s okay to not be super fast or to walk if I need to. I want to better figure out how to balance running with my life and everything else I love to do. I know I am training for a marathon (and I am grateful for that) but I don’t want to lose a sense of balance – because without balance all goes to crap.

Ironically, yesterday I actually had a “good run”. I actually smiled after it. I ran without my watch and just ran. I even walked a block to switch podcasts. But I felt happy. Then I looked at my training schedule and started dreading it again: tomorrow I have a “long run.” Oh god. I don’t really want to do it. But stressing is not helping matters. I’m writing this to hold myself accountable: to not stress; to do my best to enjoy; to not be so hard on myself; and to remember why I started running in the first place.


Other post of possible interest: 

Is Running as Healthy as We Want it to Be? 


No questions, just your thoughts. 



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40 thoughts on “Running Is Stressing Me Out

  1. Ha, this is the story of my life. For me, I LOVE running when I’m actually doing it, but thinking about it, whether or not it will hurt my knee, whether or not I am cross training enough, why I am so slow, whether or not I should try to go faster is ridiculously stressful. That’s why I wasn’t doing it. The way I see it is that you signed up for this marathon, so you have to train for it, but then once you’re done, make running a “when I want to, for fun” thing, and do exercise that you love!

  2. Swimming used to be to me what running used to be to you. It was my release and my escape. I dove into the pool and it was ME TIME along with go time. I’d get my fitness on and I would relieve stress and everything else you mentioned.

    I don’t swim anymore, mostly because of lack of convenient pool access, and now my release is CrossFit. It burns me out sometime. Sometimes there are weeks that go by when I really don’t much care for CF. It makes me frustrated. It makes me unhappy with myself. But those times are the minority.

    I’ve tried to run before. I’ve wanted to be a runner, if that makes sense. But every time I take that first jog, it always seems like work to me. I don’t find running relaxing, except for one or two “perfect runs” I’ve had. I know you’re committed to your marathon, and that’s awesome. Maybe you’re finding out that running isn’t your jam, it isn’t your thing? Maybe this is also your goodbye tour, your way of saying goodbye to it? Perhaps if you decide that long distances aren’t for you, you’ll be able to find serenity in that this is your coup de grace?

    I do wish many more good runs for you. And when the runs are done, the barbell will be waiting for you. =)

  3. My thoughts? Probably not what you want to hear….take a break. For me, this sounds like you are about to burn out from the pressure and running. Mental stress, injury….maybe I am totally wrong, but if a training feels draining (that’s probably grammatical totally incorrect sorry) then I just think we should stop or take a break. Sure, some days we have to kick our butts, but when it starts to get a ‘task’ we ‘should’ do – where’s the fun with that? The marathon is not part of your job, so you are free to decide if you want to go for it or not. Please don’t get me wrong I don’t want to be rude! I just worry a bit. Listen to your body is the most important thing!

  4. This is how I feel about exercise! I wrote about it in a post called Challenging my Exercise anxiety. I think when we anticipate and put less pressure on ourselves to do a task, the task becomes heavier than what it really is.

  5. I totally understand your thoughts and have been feeling the same way. I usually love running but this training cycle I’ve been forcing it! It’s good that you’ve been trying to make some tweaks in your routine to freshen it up!

  6. Running and I have had a constant love/hate and on and off relationship. Sounds like you definitely need to change things up a bit, or maybe just take a day or two off to get back in the groove! I can totally get how training for a marathon can stressful. Just try your best to have fun with it, and make sure you have fun in the middle of it (don’t completely cut out your social life!) and maybe it will get better!

  7. Hey Gurl! First let me say, I always appreciate the honesty you approach your posts with. I personally have gone through the exact same feeling (although I’m not training for a marathon).

    When I first discovered running I could not get enough. I would run as the sun set and it helped me get over a lot of ‘ish I was dealing with and it helped me get off my antidepressants yada yada. And after 2 half marathons, right now I just don’t have the same love for the run. I’m slower than ever and my heart isn’t in it.

    On the flip side I’ve really LOVED training with my work’s personal trainer doing HIIT and weight lifting. I feel a similarish stress because I named my blog “the long run” because I loved long runs so much and now… well they’re ok… when you’re done.

    My hope is that I won’t stress my body out too much, I’ll try pushing myself but I trust that by not stressing myself out about running I’ll naturally gravitate towards it again soon.

    And finally, I’m excited for Fall beacuse running in the Fall is hands down the BEST time to run, it really makes up for the struggles that are summer/winter running – soo good stuff is on the horizon.

    Sorry this was such a long comment I just really related to this post, so thank YOU!

    Have a great weekend Amy :)

  8. I think we all go through this especially as a blogger. I see SO many runner bloggers who “just had the most amazing ____(crazy distance) run, I feel amazing!!” And I’m here thinking I wish I could run and LOVE it. But you’ve done so many good things, surround yourself with happy people and it will be more enjoyable, don’t beat yourself up and listen to that knee!!! (Physical therapist in me). You are going to rock that marathon no matter how these long runs go you’ll do great. Continue to stay positive and do what’s best for you and everything else will come!

  9. oh girl, I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way! I know how stressful things like this can be, but I love the idea of ditching your garmin and having a peaceful or fun run. One of my favorite ways to love running, is to go out in my running gear, and start with a walk, then I run for however many minutes I want, then I walk for however long, and then just keep repeating it. It’s peaceful, and since you’re mixing walking with running, it’s not so hard on your body. Keep you chin up girl, you got this! And if you need me to face time you during your long run, I will. xoxo

  10. Listen to your head and your body – you know exactly what to do and what route to take. Give it some more time, some more relaxing runs and see how you feel. If you decide to persevere, do it for you and because you want to, not for any other reason.
    But hey! Know what you mean about doing it on your own, that’s why I love CrossFit! Maybe having some running buddies will change it all!
    Keep smiling and have a lovely weekend :-)

  11. I really can relate. It always seems like I fall in love with a hobby and then when it’s time to get “serious” about it, meaning there’s some external pressure, it starts feeling like work, and then psychologically it just doesn’t give me that release that it did before. I’ve fought this with running many times, and I’m still somewhat fighting it now. I think when we feel like we’ve committed to something (a big race) we put a bunch of pressure on ourselves which really takes the fun and stress relief out of it. It’s good to learn this though so we don’t keep making the same decisions. Maybe after this marathon you’ll step back and start over with running and then it will once again be a relief from stress rather than a cause. I see myself doing that after mine this nov.

  12. I can relate to this as well. For me having a workout buddy makes a HUGE difference. It motivates me and also makes exercising more enjoyable. Along with having someone to run with, I think the route you run can make a huge difference as well. I love to run along the Humber river in Toronto! :) Its nice because the route changes from pavement to dirt and there are some trails as well.

  13. I think when the things we love to do start feeling like a chore, those things aren’t fun anymore. Think about what it is you love about running, and look forward to that piece!!

  14. Training is hard! I love running, but I would be lying if I hated following the training schedule, and towards whatever race I run, I end up dreading running and can’t wait for the race to be over so I can take a break from running. It’s you, it’s human, and it’s OK! If you have to skip a run during the week, don’t worry about it. However, I have found running without anything being able to tell you your time is SO helpful!! It seems that I dread runs when I know they have to be a certain pace or whatever! Don’t worry, you aren’t a brat and you will be great at the marathon!

  15. As a marathon lover, I can tell you… I didn’t always love it and I still don’t always love it. Honest truth, sometimes training plain old sucks. You miss things because you need to run, you are tired and hungry and everything you basically said. But at the end of the day you think about why you do it. Running makes me a better person, running is a huge part of who I am, and I love that I can use running to push myself in ways I never thought possible. Why you started is different for everyone. You are not a brat, or a bad person or even out of line at all. I go through this at least once during each training cycle where I feel it is a chore. My suggestion- make a change…either a big one or a few small ones. Take a break for a few days and cross train with things you actually like doing right now. Find some new routes, treat yourself to a new running outfit. I think the biggest thing I can say though is to set small goals. One of the best things about training for your first marathon- you are always reaching new goals. each weeks long run is the furthest you have run before, celebrate that. Take it a week at a time. Don’t stress about getting to the race, focus on accomplishing what you can right NOW. Reward yourself for your hard work, set small goals each week and remind yourself- YOU CAN DO THIS.

  16. Great Post..maybe try to hook up with the Running Room for a few of your longer runs to help you get through it??? So impressed you went from not being a runner to running a marathon! I get so inspired watching people run but I can ONLY imagine how hard it can be and to push through that mental block of the negatives you feel when you first start your run! KEEP at it girl!It will feel great when you’re done :)

  17. I just started running and am at the 3 mile mark (baby steps compared to you!) before I start to poop out. I am in that feeling of endorphin-loving-running, but I can totally see how a training plan for a marathon would push you to really get those runs in on a set schedule with little flexibility. I think you will love the feeling of doing the marathon and crossing that finish line, but maybe you aren’t meant to be a marathon runner for life – and that’s okay! Give it what you can to excel at this marathon and I have a feeling you will be so happy you pushed through with the training.

  18. I have never enjoyed a run but I always do it because it’s good for me and because I sign up for races and want to do okay in them. It’s okay to not love running but still do it. Just think of the end goal- how many people can boast they ran in the Honolulu Marathon? Not many! It’s actually on my bucket list, even though I hate running. Ha ha!

  19. Last year, I ventured into long distance running. For the first half marathon, my body was fine, it wasn’t until I decided to go do the marathon that that long distance started to stress out my body and I could see the ‘cortisol’ response moon face (aka swelling all over) beginning and the weight creeping on. I still want to do it again but not sure if I want to stress this body out again. Like others have said before, maybe skip a few of the shorter runs or make one of the longer runs just a few miles shorter to help with some sanity.

  20. My thoughts are A: your not a brat. at all. B: running destroyedddd my body. Ie ruined it. I was one of those “hate running in high school, fall in love with it in college” people. It was my release. I adored it. Now. I literally CANNOT run. I have the joints of an 80 year old woman. I have sciatica. I had a sprained hip. All kinds of issues. Does this happen to everyone? No probly not, I’m just lucky I suppose ;) but the more I have researched, the more fully convinced I am that long frequent runs are not what our bodies were meant to do. The data adds up, I’ve noticed for myself at least, the more long endurance cardio exercises I do, the more inflammation and stress I have in my body.
    Andddd end rant. :)

  21. My ultra marathon training cycle totally killed me and I hated running.

    I’d suggest modifying your training plan. Maybe just focus on the runs and not speedwork. You don’t NEED to get faster and you don’t NEED to run the whole thing. I take walk breaks in ALL races over 10km and on ALL of my long runs.

    I think it’s perfectly normal not to love all of your runs, but you shouldn’t be dreading them either. Whenever I feel like that I know it’s time to reevaluate the training plan and make modifications as needed. Remember, you’re training to finish you first marathon, not qualify for Boston :)

  22. You have every right to feel the way you do. Reconnect with running and taaaake your time. I think it’s awesome that your challenging yourself to run a marathon so anything you can do to keep yourself sane is worth it! I’ve had those moments lately because I’ve felt like I’m so weak compared to where I used to be. I groan a bit when leaving for a leg workout (my once favorite) and still haven’t set any major goals due to it.

    You ARE amazing so keep pushing yourself and keep posting mama. We’re here to support you and give you the BOOST you need!!

  23. I think that is very common when you are training for a race (especially something like a marathon) that requires lots of set runs – hopefully you can cut yourself some slack so that you don’t burn out before your race!!

  24. I’m training for the San Francisco half marathon and have been dreading running lately too! Hurting my Achilles didn’t help and I’ve totally been off of my running plan this entire week which stresses me out. I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve just decided to allow myself to run slower and not make a big deal out of it. The goal is to finish the race, in the end a few minutes will not take away from whatever is accomplished. Good luck!

  25. Well you know I certainly relate to you on running stress. It caused me so much stress I basically refused to do it for years. I also know what you mean about the health factor. Running very long distances on a regular basis certainly takes a toll on your body, but I think the same can be said for almost any physical activity when you reach a certain level or intensity. I think that’s why the half marathon has become so hugely popular. It’s an impressive distance, but a more manageable distance that takes less of a toll on your body and your life. I’m glad you are ditching your Garmin (I have a theory that counting stats is the new counting calories – it becomes an obsession way too fast), and there is NOTHING wrong with walking. Or with being slow. I’m like, painfully slow, but I just embrace it. We aren’t training for the Olympics, so who cares? It’s hard to silence my insanely competitive inner voice, but I think it’s actually been really really good for me to just accept that I’m not very good at something and do it anyway. And with that, I’ll end this rambling comment. :) I hope your long run went well and that you have a fabulous weekend!

  26. I LOLed when you said “running to mcdonalds and back is depressing” haha…sounds like it. I also don’t really like running because it puts stress on my leg and back…and honestly I’m not mad about that. I don’t find running fun or think it is necessarily the best for your body. Think about it this way though…you are running one marathon. You might be regretting it now but this is only one marathon. If you don’t enjoy it you probably don’t ever have to do another one in your life ever again. You are young and even though it might take a toll on your body you will recover especially from cross fitting. You made the choice to do this marathon and even though it kinda sucks now I’m sure you’ll feel GREAT about crossing the finish line. Live and learn! Good luck!

  27. Running has always stressed me out, which I think is why I never took to it. BUT I find when I take something I love (like blogging) and turn it into a job of sorts, something that MUST be done and something with a distinct end goal, I find I lose my love of it. This sounds like you and running. Instead of doing something for the love of it, we are doing it to achieve something. I struggle finding a balance too, but I’m sure for you once this training is over, you will be able to find the balance you crave. In the meantime, do your best and remember: 1. Everything in life is temporary and 2. How amazing it will feel to cross that finish line. Sending you love and hugs! xox

  28. I can’t believe anyone could possibly ever think that you’re a brat! I admire your honesty & do think that runner stress their bodies out a lot. I think it’s great you’re admitting how you’re feeling & what toll it may be taking on your body. In the end, you just need to go with what’s right for YOU & what makes YOU happy. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says. If they can’t support your decision, then you don’t need them anyway. :)

  29. CrossFit is my release now, and I can’t even begin to talk about how much it has helped me mentally and emotionally – the physical benefits are just a bonus!

  30. Been on vacation so excuse my lateness to this…I believe in balance too :) Couple of things from somebody who’s quit/taken a break/sidelined/fallen out from running a few times over the last 15 years…

    1st, I’d agree with Lucie in taking a break. Now I know you feel you probably can’t do that due to the Saucony opportunity. In that case I’d grind through the couple of months of training to the marathon and see if you find something that reignites passion. Sounds like you’re already starting to do that with dropping the Garmin. Keep playing things up and give it time.

    2nd, you’re really loving crossfit because of the group aspect. Maybe it’s time to run 1/2 days a week with a group? Parkdale Roadrunners (they have a lot of crossfitters) or one of the Nike groups could appeal to you.

    Lastly, North America is very marathon centric right now. By living here it’s easy to think that running IS marathons, but it’s not! Sounds like you could enjoy trading the long miles for the variety of speed work that’s emphasized in middle distance running. Working on speed and killing it in 5k’s, 10k’s, or even the track, might be more your thing, I don’t know. Most people have never trained for speed though so they don’t know how good they are. Trail running (not ultras!) would also give you the same kind of variety you get in crossfit ;)

    Hope you figure it out

  31. Love your honesty! And you are not a brat. You are real and honest and THIS IS TOUGH!! I am training right with you as part of the #saucony26program and it is not easy!! A great opportunity yes and I will stay the course, but it definitely requires a new balance, sacrifices and it is mentally and physically exhausting. We can do this girl! One run at a time!!!! TOGETHER :)

  32. I feel you, girl. It’s OK, and it’s amazing that you know your body and mind well enough to recognize this. Running may not be for everyone, and it also may go through times of ups and downs (I KNOW you were so happy – truly – when you finished your first half!). If you ever want to talk it out, let me know :)

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