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Exhausted After Running

By Lynne Sheldon

You love running, but every time you finish a workout, you’re exhausted. While some fatigue is natural after exercise, you should not feel completely depleted. Most likely, you are trying to run too often, do so at too high an intensity level or cover too great a distance for your current fitness level. Scaling back on your workouts and building up to longer, faster runs gradually can help you overcome fatigue.

High Intensity

Running is typically a vigorously paced form of exercise, and working above a certain intensity level can lead to exhaustion. To measure your intensity level, subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate. Vigorous exercise falls within 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example, a 25-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 195, and he will be working at a vigorous pace if his heart rate is between 137 and 166 beats per minute. Working above this rate may cause him to fatigue too quickly, become exhausted after his workout or be unable to even complete it.


You may want to run for miles, but you need to increase your running time gradually. Trying to add to your mileage too quickly can lead to overuse injuries, as well as cause you to burn out before you finish your workout. You should make it your goal to increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent each week, and even scale back further if this is still too much for your body. It is better to add distance slowly than to injure or exhaust yourself in the process, which will also decrease your performance level.

New to Exercise

You may be exhausted after running because you are brand-new to exercise and not yet fit enough for working out at such a high intensity. Though you need to work out at a moderate to vigorous intensity to glean the most benefits from exercise, you may need to start at a light intensity and work your way up. This may mean walking for several weeks before you start running, and then slowly adding in running intervals. It may take you three months or more to build the stamina to run for a continuous amount of time.

Additional Tips

While running is a good form of exercise, you might consider cross-training or adding in an additional activity or two to your weekly workouts. Not only will this help prevent overuse injuries, but it will also allow your muscles to recover from your runs. You might try running every other day and going for a swim or bike ride on the days in between. Doing yoga or weight-training can also improve your strength and stamina and lead to better, more effective runs.

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