But I’m So Tired: How To Push Through When You’re Drained

Wed 11 Sep 2019

But I’m So Tired: How To Push Through When You’re Drained

By Todd Williams*

THE GIST: Make sure you listen to your body and take a rest day if you need it. But if you’re feeling unmotivated, then just get started with a warmup. Then keep going and put one foot in front of the other — literally or figuratively. One of the best feelings is pushing through your personal mental resistance and reaching your own summit for the day.

THE LONGER READ: Tiredness and fatigue have ruined many workouts for me, so I’ve come up with various strategies to get me over the hump of exhaustion and closer to my goals. Here’s my biggest tip for you:


I often ask my patients to interpret their bodies for me because they’re the only ones who can listen and translate. Fatigue and exhaustion could be signs of overtraining. Our bodies repair, grow and make progress when we rest, and if we don’t rest enough, our bodies will let us know.

I manage this for myself by looking at my workout results. Are my mile times suffering? Am I able to lift the same amount of weight? If not, and I feel tired, it’s often because I’ve been overtraining.

If we don’t take the time to check in with our bodies, and take the rest we need, we put ourselves at greater risk for injury.

If you’re feeling tired, check in with yourself. And if you find yourself lagging in your workouts, please take a rest day and keep in mind that the next workout will be that much better. You want to make sure you apply the least amount of stress your body to generate change. Finding this balance will help protect you from injury.

If you know your tiredness isn’t due to overtraining, then here are some ways to push through to reach your fitness goals. 


I often feel tired before my workout and don’t feel like pushing myself to my limits. So if you feel that way, you’re not alone. It’s also one reason having a proper warmup routine can help you.  A warmup won’t just get your muscles and joints ready for activity. It’ll also put you in the right headspace.

Warming up at a low intensity, with something like the elliptical or stationary bike,  will shift your attention to the task of exercise. If you feel like you cannot go any faster or sustain your current pace for an extended period of time, that means it is time to back off.  A warmup is all about transition, a time to focus on your fitness goals, and a time to prepare your body and mind. 


The days I exercise after a full day of work can be the most challenging. The feelings of fatigue from the day are already with me and I often don’t feel like exercising. But I just tell myself I have to keep going. I know that if I go anywhere else other than to the gym, or wherever I am going to complete my workout, I will not do it. I try to frame it as something that is just going to happen. It’s not a choice — it’s just the next part of the day.


Full disclosure: I don’t feel like exercising a lot. More times than I want to admit, I’m unmotivated and uninspired, resistant to exercise I have planned for the day. These feelings come when I have a clear goal — and even when I’ve made progress toward my goal. During this time I can easily rationalize not doing my planned exercises. I tell myself things like “I had a great workout yesterday,” “one more day off won’t hurt,” “I had a long day at work and deserve a break,” and other similar things. Even though they may be true, if I’m honest with myself, I know I have the capacity to exercise. When I push past the resistance — and when you do, too — that’s where real progress happens. 

I intially experienced this resistance on my first backpacking trip. It was new, it was fun, and, most importantly, I wasn’t tired yet. By the third day, I was ready to stop and I still had seven more days to go. I’d had enough and honestly didn’t know if I could keep going.

Luckily, I was with a group who motivated me to continue and push through. I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other. I didn’t look ahead to see how much further we had to go. I didn’t think about how many more days or how many more miles of hiking were left. All I did was focus on each step as I sat with my resistance. One mile turned into two, one day turned into three, and eventually the feeling of resistance passed and I finished the trip wanting to do more.

Resistance comes up all the time in my life, and not just with exercise. It’s here with me as write this post. By sitting with the feeling that day on the trail, I discovered I could do much more than I thought.

Whenever I have this feeling now, I focus on the growth it can bring me. That it can help me be who I want to be. That it can eventually get me to the summit. And the satisfaction that comes with it is one of the best feelings in the world.

STEPtember to Remember: Blogging It Out is a series by Todd Williams, CPARF’s STEPtember Fitness Ambassador. Todd is a traveling physical therapist who’s training for the 2019 New York City Marathon — and he has cerebral palsy. The posts featured in this series showcase his personal perspective.

*This blog series doesn't constitute professional medical advice. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you, so please consult your doctor for medical advice. This blog series also shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation.

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