- exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration
- the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time
(Definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster not Urban Dictionary)
I've had a few friends lately complain of runner burnout. Runner burnout is part of the deal. We all have those extended periods of time when we don't feel motivated. Those periods of time when we feel like our body just can't do it anymore.
I can think of three different times this year alone, that I've experienced runner burnout. This past winter was the first time I've attempted running in the frigid temps. I remember in February, after 2+ months of running outside in the cold weather, I rebelled. I was done. I think I did treadmill running for two weeks straight (except for my long runs)!
A couple of months later, just before the Flying Pig Marathon, it happened again. I was so fatigued. I dreaded those long runs. This, of course, is normal as you approach the end stages of full training. Thank goodness for taper! The decreased mileage and extra rest restored my mental and physical depletion.
Then, a month later, it happened again! I was in between running my full and running my next half marathon. Three strikes! It was at that point that I decided I'd be ready for a running break after I raced the half.
So what caused my burnout?
- Monotony: During the winter months, it was becoming a pain in the butt to don all of that winter gear. Five days a week of 1-2 layers of tights, thick socks, base tank, t-shirt or long sleeve middle layer, a jacket to top it all off; balaclava, ear warmer, hat, head lamp...is this annoying yet?! Well it was equally as annoying to put all of this on day after day!
- Fatigue: All those weeks/months of training and getting up early in addition to working full time and being a mom...it takes a toll on you mentally and physically.
- Lack of variety in activity type: Last year, I stopped doing my weekly Hip Hop Fitness sessions. There were many reasons for it (increased my running, class times clashed with my life schedule at the time, etc.). When I wasn't able to fit that into my training, I started going to The Y and cycling 1-2 days per week. I eventually stopped that due to my workload (job load, not running load) increasing. I noticed that several weeks into ceasing those activities, I experienced one of my burnouts.
So how did I recover from burnout?
- There was nothing I could do about the weather. I just had to wait it out. I just made sure I made running dates with my friends so that donning all of that crap didn't seem as daunting. I still complained every time! ;) It was a glorious day when all I had to prep the night before was a shirt, shorts, and a sports bra.
- I eventually took a running break. I think I took only 2 full days off after Pig. Since I was 5 weeks away from running a half, I didn't feel the need to take an extended break. I figured, if I felt fine, I would run whatever I could tolerate. It did take me a good three weeks to recover. By that time, I was mentally checked out. I just wanted to make this next race happen so that I could do nothing for a few days. I ended up taking 5 days off after that half! Just enough to restore my love tank.
- I started going back to Hip Hop Fitness. When I was on my running break, I made the decision to buy a 10 class pass to my favorite Hip Hop class. I figured, if I tried to make up an excuse, I would have to go or I would be wasting my money. I've been going once a week since my half (except last week) and using that as my cross training day.
Can you remember a time you experienced running burnout? How did you recover from it?