Sometime in your training cycle and sometimes even right before a race, you may find yourself wishing not to RUNaway, but that running would just plain GO away.  Do you remember that Dunkin Donuts commercial years ago with that little pudgy man that rolls out of bed and sighs "Time to make the donuts."  He's in a trance the whole commercial continuously moaning "Time to make the donuts."  (mmmm. donuts.)

Well, I have gone through those same motions and muttered a similar phrase more than a few times over my running journey, only my phrase is <insert slumped shoulders, bad attitude and overly dramatic sigh> "Time to go run."  A few years ago when I had established another good habit in running, I started feeling this way and panicked.  "Ugh.  Running.  This running gig just stinks."  I had found my newest and greatest hobby just 8 months prior to my first major dip in enthusiasm.  I had trained to run 3 miles then 5 miles then 10 miles and raced in some 5Ks and a 10K and a 10 miler.  I was on a running streak!  I had a good group; I had a good sports doc that really helped me through some pesky injuries; I had a good coach.  And then burnout hit.  A few weeks before my first half marathon.  I felt done.  Running had lost it's zip.  I didn't enjoy it, but I didn't know what to do.  I felt stuck.  (Yes, I know this sounds weirdo that I felt stuck, but burnout emotions can make you crazy.)  A race mere weeks away and this joyful hobby had me stressed.  Now that really sucks.

And now for the 'Dear Amy' advice column . . .

Running burnout is common.  Running burnout is okay.  Running burnout is temporary.  And running burnout can be prevented.  

You've adopted a new habit and you've been hitting it hard.  A regular running schedule - more miles week after week.  The same trails again and again.  Your body is tired.  And your mind is tired.  You may even stop for a second and realize the sacrifices you are making to commit to this running goal.  (And by the way - it's worth it.)  But sooner or later, the burnout may hit you.

So what is one to do when you actually find yourself saying "this running gig sucks"? 

1.)  First off, find your coach.  You may be fighting an injury or overtraining or plain just overwhelmed with your personal schedule and running is just making it worse.  I can talk you though it - not during a run but over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.  We'll compare notes and make a plan that sets you on a better path for you at this moment in time. 

2.)  Second, chill out on the running.  Give yourself permission to play hookey.  It honestly feels wonderful every once in a while to relish your cup of coffee and morning tv and know that your friends are out running :)  A day, a week, even longer.  A much needed break will not affect your endurance as much as you think.  Don't be a slave to your schedule every single workout.  It's good to miss running every once in a while.  And your coach will help you get back on track when you are ready.

3.)  Third, take your runs at a slower pace and just take it easy.  It's not a timed test every single workout.  Put on your shoes, take off your watch and just run.  Not for the mile or time measurement, just run.  When you take the pressure off of your checklist, then the job becomes a hobby.

4.)  Also, focus on your end goal.  Chances are it's a race or mileage goal.  Those finish lines are why we train.  It's a rush like no other and I promise that that finish line will erase that burnout like you wouldn't believe.  That race day is coming up, so stick with it and just relish in the moment.  Don't feel like you need to make another plan just yet.

5.)  Another thing, make sure that your schedule has both "step down" weeks (these are weeks with limited running to totally heal your body) as well as another form of exercise.  Weights or yoga or pilates are all great for runners for both cross training and a break in the trails and help keep you off of that hamster wheel that runners often find themselves on.

6.)  And finally, take care of yourself.  This means plenty of sleep, a good diet at least 80% of the time, and plenty of plain old water for hydration.  A run down, dehydrated, malnourished body always equals a cranky body.

That burnout - it's temporary.  Ask for help and allow yourself to chill out until it passes.  It will . . . and you'll be a better runner for it!