Let’s start with a basic premise: Our bodies want to feel good, and running — or any regular exercise, really — should help that endeavor. But sometimes, even when we’re trying our best to be healthy and happy, something gets out of alignment, whether it’s physical or mental.
Here, we run through a few common warning signs and the expert best qualified to address the concern. Of course, the number 1 piece of advice experts give is to listen to your body: If something doesn’t feel right, stop doing it and seek expert guidance.
NUTRITION-RELATED WARNING SIGNS
- Feeling fatigued every. single. run.
- Persistent stomach issues during runs or throughout the day, whether that means cramping, gas, diarrhea or nausea
- For female runners, if your period becomes irregular or stops altogether
You may need … A nutritionist or registered dietitian to help you look critically at what you’re eating and figure out if you’re eating too much, too little or the wrong foods to fuel your run.
OVERTRAINING WARNING SIGNS
- Feeling fatigued and having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
- Having a consistent string of injuries
- Constant muscle soreness (not pain, just a general total-body feeling)
- Your times aren’t improving, or they’re getting slower
You may need … A coach who can look at your current training load and assess how you’re feeling and help you put a plan together to get back on track, even if that means slowing down in the short-term.
INJURY WARNING SIGNS
- If one specific spot is aching during and/or after every run
- Any sharp or stabbing pains while running, especially if they persist for more than one run
- If you’re having trouble with movement in everyday life
You may need … A physical therapist or chiropractor to help figure out what exactly is causing the muscle pains and imbalances. Treating a recurring symptom early might save you months of rehab, since the sooner you catch and analyze a problem, the sooner you can be on the road to recovery.
MENTAL BURNOUT WARNING SIGNS
- Every result feels like a failure, even if you hit a new PR
- When you see numbers objectively improving, but still feel like you’re not getting any better
- If runs or races leave you feeling hyper-emotional, throwing tantrums or sobbing uncontrollably
- Races make you so nervous you’re nauseous on the start line
- You used to love your daily runs and now you dread them
You may need … A sports psychologist or sport-specific therapist to help you work through some of your mental hurdles around running. It can be easy to get sucked into the uber-competitive side of the sport, but ultimately, if you can’t find the joy in running, you’re missing the best part.