Okay, lately, you've felt like you're not running at the same pace and stamina you did a few weeks or days ago. For example, you used to do a 2-mile run very quickly without your leg feeling too heavy.
You haven't changed your routine or diet, yet you feel more tired than ever. "Why did my running stamina suddenly stop? What's the problem? What am I doing wrong?" You ask yourself.
Well, hold your horses and don't worry much about this. It's a clear case of overtraining. Or perhaps some other factors like psychological issues.
I mean, if you're worried about losing stamina despite training daily, it's not strange. We've all been there. You simply need to know why this is happening and how you can solve it.
So let's dive right into the specifics.
Why Has Your Running Stamina Dropped?
There are many reasons depending on your exercise program, mental health, diet, fitness level, and overall health.
If you're experiencing a running slump, it's probably because you're overdoing it.
I mean, you've been consistent with your regular exercises, which means you've gradually increased your pace and stamina. And it feels great. But out of nowhere, you no longer feel the same.
Well, you need to dial it down. You might be overworking your body and need rest (more on that later).
Whenever you start feeling sluggish, especially if you've got a goal to run a marathon or something, it's common to do more and increase intensity.
While this helps improve your fitness levels, it hurts your overall physical stamina and may affect your performance during a marathon.
The body needs rest, and if you don't give it what it needs, that's when your running stamina goes down. And that's what we call overtraining syndrome.
You’ve got inadequate energy
The other reason your running stamina has suddenly dropped is inadequacy in your energy.
This is the amount of energy left over after summing up the number of calories your body can take, then subtracting the energy your burn to keep it functional. This energy is meant to help your body achieve daily physical activity and complete your workouts.
It means you need to have enough energy for your body to run smoothly. And if it has gone down, you might experience a drop in running stamina.
Now to guarantee adequate energy, you need to eat the right foods. Your nutritional energy intake needs to be adequate, and you can start by taking small amounts of dark chocolate before going for a moderate run. This keeps your blood sugar levels higher and thus pumps up your heart rate to keep you moving.
What To Do
Here are a few recommendations on what to do when your running stamina has suddenly dropped.
Embrace easy runs
If you feel your running stamina is taking a slump, it's best to listen to your body. Then, take it slowly and embrace easy runs. Experts recommend that about 70 percent of your regular exercises consist of easy runs. Avoid tempo runs, and don't include many intense workouts in your interval sessions.
Your stamina has gone down because your body desperately needs a rest. So, for now, give it a rest. Take 5-7 days away from any intense exercise. And as you do so, carefully plan your exercise program, including balanced intervals of high tempo runs and several easy runs.
Cut down on the runs, and make it about four times a week. Each run should have the same length irrespective of whether you did an intense or simple yet easy run. Please don't force it. Once you're done with the easy run, take a break until your following exercise routine.
Don’t overtrain, and watch your tempos
Expert trainers advise against overtraining. But how do you know if you've overtrained? For starters, your stamina will be super low when running.
Secondly, you'll know about your workout routine. Does it consist of fast, intense runs every day? If it does, you're doing it wrong even if your stamina is still good. Intense running daily leads to burnout, which messes up your fitness level and may affect your mental energy.
Nothing's more enjoyable than going for a run. But the fun stops the moment your running feels harder. So give your body a rest and let it heal from the high-tempo runs.
Remember, Healthy runs are not about speed but more about the time on your feet and how good you feel.
You also need to balance the intense runs and hard workouts to grow your muscles. It helps with your heart rates and perfectly adapts your cardiovascular system for faster recovery.
Keep in mind that a lack of rest and easy runs in your exercise program reduces your performance and may also extend your recovery period. Instead of a one-week recovery time, if you insist on intense runs without rests, your future slump may require a whole month's recovery period.
Increase your calorie consumption
Sometimes it's not the physical activity that's to point a finger to. You also need to check out your diet and calorie consumption. Always go with foods that are heavy with calories because this helps pump up your blood pressure to run faster.
It takes more than lots of potatoes and pasta to fuel a physically active person. Just make sure you balance out your diet to give you high calories to handle your intense physical activity.
Also, it may sound weird, but always watch out for your body fat. With low body fat, you're risking your body having low energy availability. It's because fat is your body's calorie reserve.
However, be careful not to have too much fat in your diet. Remember there's good fat and bad fat; therefore, take note and distinguish them. Basically, get your fat from avocado, nuts, fish, etc., because they're great fat sources.
Here are a few commonly asked questions on VO2 and sudden drop in running stamina.
1. Is dark chocolate good for runners?
Yes, it's a great source of energy if you're a regular runner. So make sure to add it to your exercise program but mostly take the dark chocolate just before a run.
A study in 1996 fed a couple of college students dark chocolate right before they went for a run. And another group was not fed chocolate. Those who took the dark chocolate ran longer because this raised their blood sugar levels.
So, dark chocolate is good for runners and helps, especially if you're experiencing a running slump, or your stamina has dropped.
2. Why is my stamina so low all of a sudden?
A sudden drop in your running stamina can be several reasons. It's either a poor diet, you're overtraining, your workout routine isn't effective, or you have a medical condition.
However, the main culprit is usually overtraining. Of course, that's assuming you're in good health and have changed your diet. Don't overdo your training; take a break from running and let your body rest.
Still, it's highly advisable to check with your doctor and ensure you don't have any health issues.
3. Why is my VO2 max decreasing?
A vo2 max is a maximum rate at which your heart, muscles, and lungs can efficiently use the oxygen in your body to push you to exercise. It's basically the measurement of your aerobic capacity.
Now, your VO2 max is decreasing when your heart rate seems to go faster than your pace, which means you're experiencing a drop in your running. This is always caused by high fatigue from your workouts. And its remedy is taking a rest from your running. You must also replace your intense workouts with short rests and easy runs.
4. Why does running feel harder some days?
The main reason why some days you're having hard runs is that your body hasn't recovered from the previous day. Yes, it's okay to follow up with your workout routine, but it's highly recommended you let your body rest sometimes. It needs to recover fully.
So don't pound your body with intense running without allowing it to rest. If you have a hard run, stop and give your body a 48 hours rest. It's that simple, take a rest.
Of course, that assumes your health is okay, and you have changed your diet.
I hope the article answers why your running stamina has suddenly dropped. It's mainly all about your exercise program. You shouldn't be overtraining and never letting your body rest.
Your body needs rest to recover from the previous day's workout fully. You can overwork your body and expect it to give you the same daily results. Just give it a rest.
Also, make sure your workout routine consists of easy runs and lots of rests. For example, 70 percent of your exercise program should be easy runs and rests between intense runs.
Another reason your running stamina suddenly dropped is because of a changed diet, or perhaps you have a medical condition. Go for a checkup and monitor your diet.