Numerous studies have shown exercise to be the best way to beat the blues, and running is no exception. All those feel-good endorphins start to race through your system as you keep pace on your own run. However, if you’re feeling cranky as you make your trek or cross the finish line, something bigger could be at play. Here are a few factors to consider:
Dehydration: According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, how well hydrated a woman was did not affect her exercise performance, but did led to headaches, lack of focus, fatigue, and a low mood both at rest and during exercise. By simply drinking more water throughout your day can leave you running toward a better mood.
Tip: Take in more water throughout the day by always having it on hand. Keep a bottle filled at all times, and sipping becomes so simple.
Not Enough Zzzs: When training for a race, or just pushing yourself harder than usual, sufficient sleep is necessary for your body to recover. Seven to nine hours is the recommendation, but if your body is asking for more, it’s time to listen.
Tip: If you are having trouble drifting off to slumber land, skip counting sheep and decrease your screen time instead. Turn off your TV, computer, tablet, and yes, even your phone. If you need to read, pick up the traditional paper version and switch the lamp to low.
Over-Training: If you’re getting enough sleep, but you still have a case of the cranky, the culprit could be too much of a good thing. Instead of improving your body, over-training can lead to decreased performance, essentially taking you out of the race.
Tip: Be more efficient with your workouts. Instead of keeping cardio and strength training separated, switch your lifting routine to something more aerobic. Reduce your weights, but up your reps to get your heart pumping and your muscles burning.
Outside Stress: A looming deadline, a recent fight with a friend, or an expensive car repair can all weigh on you. While running in the past may have been a break from your burdens, too much stress can take a toll.
Tip: Carrying around mental burdens can be a heavy load, but not one your muscles will benefit from. Write down your worries in a journal, and you just might find that you don’t need to think about them all the time. Get them on paper, and prepare to feel more free.
Carb Deficient: Low blood sugar can cause a runner to crash quickly. A term being used more frequently is “hangry,” which combines the words hungry and angry for the perfect description of what happens when you don’t fuel your body properly.
Tip: Eat small meals throughout the day instead of large meals. You’ll keep your hunger in check, while boosting your metabolism at the same time.
Boredom: If you’re falling out of love with running, it might be time to switch things up.
Tip: Add in intervals, choose a new trail, buy new sneakers, or add in a day of yoga, swimming, or biking.
Exercise should help energize you, not wear you out. Keep an eye on your mood; when it goes south, make changes to get back on your game.
How does exercise make you feel? Share with us in the comments!