Could you be suffering from mental fatigue? Here’s what to do when running feels stressful

why does running feel stressful?

If you’re feeling a drop in motivation when it comes to training, you’re finding running a bit stressful, or you’re just struggling to get out the door in the morning, there could be a simple reason why. Think about what you were doing before your run – were you sitting at your desk, in a stressful meeting, or scrolling through social media, if so, you could be suffering with mental-fatigue.

Angie Fifer, a mental-performance consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology explains mental fatigue, saying “we are not able to continue to focus through the exercise session because we’re tired from focusing so intensely prior to the workout.”  

But how can you stop mental-fatigue from sabotaging your run, and what are we doing to cause it? Here’s what the experts recommend:

1. Run in the morning

With a good night’s sleep, an early run is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re feeling mentally fresh, says Fifer.

Related: 3 reasons to run in the morning 

2. Swish a sports drink

A 2017 study found rinsing your mouth with a caffeine-containing drink before a workout or run resulted in a higher resistance to mental fatigue.

3. Skip social media

You don’t have to steer clear altogether, but avoid endlessly scrolling Instagram, Facebook or Twitter right before you run, as it can leave your mind irritated says mindfulness coach Amy Saltzman.

Related: 4 social media mistakes all runners should avoid 

4. Centre yourself

Instead of jumping straight from work into a run, use your commute to decompress and shift gears with mindful meditation, suggests Saltzman.

5. Or just take a breath

That said, if you commute doubles as a workout, Fifer suggests that taking a few deep breaths can recharge your mental batteries. Add them to your warm-up before running out the office door.