Why am I Getting Worse at Running? 

Ever laced up your sneakers, pumped up to hit the pavement or the trail, only to find that your legs feel like lead, your breath comes too quick, and your usual pace feels like an impossible dream? 

You’re not alone. Many runners experience periods where their performance seems to drop inexplicably. 

But fear not!

In this article, I will walk you through some possible reasons why you are getting worse at running and how you can turn the tide to get back to crushing those miles.

Stress-related Issues

It’s no secret that stress is a silent assassin in many aspects of our lives, and running is no exception. 

When you’re stressed, your body is in a constant state of fight or flight, which doesn’t exactly scream ‘peak performance’ for your runs. 

High cortisol levels can lead to decreased muscle mass, increased fat storage, especially around the midsection, and a general feeling of fatigue. 

The fix? 

Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine. 

Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or simply taking a leisurely walk, finding ways to dial down the stress can help you ramp up your running performance.

Dietary Issues

Imagine trying to run a car on empty – that’s essentially what you do if your diet isn’t supporting your running goals. 

Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source for high-intensity activities like running. 

Not consuming enough can leave you feeling sluggish and unable to maintain your usual pace. 

Additionally, hydration is vital; even being slightly dehydrated can significantly impact your performance. 

Ensure you eat a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 

And don’t forget to hydrate! 

A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily, adjusting for intense exercise and hot weather.

Not Sleeping Enough

It is expected to underestimate the power of sleep. 

Sleep is when your body undergoes repair and recovery, which is crucial for runners who are constantly breaking down muscle fibers. 

Lack of sleep can lead to decreased performance, slower reaction times, and an increased risk of injuries. 

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, and consider implementing a pre-sleep routine to help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.


Running while pregnant comes with its own set of challenges and adjustments. 

As your body changes, your center of gravity shifts, and your ligaments loosen, making running feel different and sometimes more difficult. 

Listening to your body, adjusting your expectations, and prioritizing comfort and safety over pace or distance are essential. 

Consult with your healthcare provider to tailor a running plan for you during this time.

Iron Deficiency

Iron is pivotal in transporting oxygen to your muscles, a critical factor in endurance and performance. 

Symptoms of iron deficiency include feeling unusually tired, weak, and short of breath. If you suspect you’re iron-deficient, a blood test can confirm it. 

Incorporating iron-rich foods into your diet, such as lean meats, beans, and spinach, and pairing them with vitamin C-rich foods to enhance absorption can help address this issue.

Environmental Factors

The environment where you run can significantly affect your performance. 

High altitude means less oxygen, making breathing more difficult and slowing you down until your body adjusts. 

Humidity can also affect your body’s ability to cool itself, leading to quicker fatigue.

Changing your pace and expectations according to the environment and giving your body time to adapt can help mitigate these factors.

Skipping Long Slow Runs

Focusing on speed and intensity is tempting, but long, slow runs are the cornerstone of building endurance. 

They teach your body to burn fat more efficiently, improve your cardiovascular system, and increase your stamina. 

Skipping these runs can lead to a plateau or decrease in performance. Make sure to include them in your training schedule, running at a pace where you can comfortably converse.

Running Too Slow or Too Hard

Finding the right pace is crucial. 

Running too slow may mean you need to be more challenging yourself enough to see improvements while running too hard can lead to burnout and injuries. 

Listen to your body, and use tools like heart rate zones or perceived effort to find a challenging yet sustainable pace.

Why am I getting Worse at Running – Final Take

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to why your running performance might be dipping, but identifying the problem is the first step to getting back on track. 

Whether it’s stress, diet, or something else, making targeted changes can help you overcome these hurdles.

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