How To Reboot Your Running Routine and Bounce Back From a Rut
Don’t sweat: It happens to every athlete. Here’s how to lace back up.
By Colleen Travers•
Every body is a runner’s body, but it takes time and patience to build up your endurance and increase your stamina for the sport. And when we talk about stamina, we don’t just mean the physical kind. Whether you’re a beginner runner or a seasoned strider, running ruts happen to all of us and can make you feel burned out and unwilling to keep up with your weekly mileage.
Rather than feel frustrated, it’s important to look at a running rut as part of the process, not just a wrench that’s been suddenly thrown in the middle of the road (or Peloton Tread). “Training [including running ruts] teaches us about ourselves. It’s important to look at our whole fitness picture, not just single out each workout,” says Peloton instructor Joslyn Thompson Rule.
Here’s what to do when a running rut happens to you. Plus, why they tend to happen and how to get through them without derailing your progress.
What a Rut Feels Like
Your workouts should generally feel challenging, so how do you know if the struggle you’re experiencing is a sign that something’s not right? Think of it this way: “If you’re running at your usual comfortable pace or distance and find that it feels like more effort than it should, you’re unmotivated to finish or you’re seeing minimal progress, you’re likely going through a running rut,” Joslyn says. “These are also signs that you’re overtraining or not recovering properly. Make sure you’re taking enough rest days, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep at night.”
The Reason You’re in a Running Rut
Aside from overtraining, running ruts tend to happen when your workouts are stale. “If someone runs for 20 minutes twice a week at the same pace for six months, a rut is inevitable,” Joslyn says. “You’ll see improvement in those first few months, but eventually, you’ll plateau.” This means your racepace won’t get much faster, and the distance you can comfortably run won’t increase either. That’s why it’s so important to have variety in your workouts. Instead of running at the same pace or route all the time, consider switching it up with a 20-minute hills run or a 30-minute tempo run on the Peloton Tread or an outdoor intervals run with the Peloton App. Don’t forget to rotate in strength training too!
Races and Ruts
If you’re training for an upcoming race, getting into a running rut can be scary. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, but you also just can’t seem to push through those training runs. “When it comes to training, it’s not necessarily your running schedule causing the rut,” Joslyn says. “Instead, look at the big picture. Are you having a busy week and not getting enough sleep, or is there another source of stress going on? All training plans need flexibility. If there’s a week you miss a day, don’t try to cram it into the next week.”
Instead, figure out why you missed it (maybe you need to switch from night workouts to mornings to avoid conflicts, for example) and adjust from there. This will prevent any overtraining that could cause a rut closer to race day.
Get Out of That Rut Fast
Have you taken some time off and added some variety but still feel generally “meh” about your runs? Then it’s time to tap into your community. “Grab a friend or train with a running group,” Joslyn says. “Having someone to keep you accountable will help you show up and push yourself.” Pro tip: You can do this virtually by searching and adding new Tags to your Peloton profile.
It’s also important to keep track of your routine and progress. By doing so, you very well could avoid a rut before it happens. “If you’ve been doing the same type of workouts or all your runs are feeling easy,” Joslyn says, “then you know it’s time to change it up before you or your runs start feeling stale.”