Monday, May 5, 2014

5 Ways to Tackle Training B.O. (Burn-Out)

I am not going to get all bitchy about the fact that I’m feeling burned out with Ironman training. Because if I complain about that then I feel ungrateful compared to people who are injured and can’t train at all. Or, people who want to run even one mile and can’t do that. Or, people with no arms and no legs (you know the gang – Matt, Bob, Dick, John). I am very grateful my body lets me do the ridiculous things that I demand of it…but to be perfect honest…

I’m slightly sick of training.

P1060433

There, I said it.  As I was on mile 60 of a 7o mile bike ride yesterday (after having done a 14 mile trail run the morning before), and the wind kicked up, I could not hold back every cuss word I have ever known (yes, even “dagnabit” and “what the fudge?”). I was losing it in the most attractive way possible. The wind around here has been horrendous, but yesterday was supposed to be calm and it wasn’t. I seriously would have punched every meteorologist in the face had they been anywhere near me. LIARS. They always LIE.

I was talking to a friend this morning about my training. She said, “Well, you know…you did an Ironman in November…then you ramped up to run a marathon in March…then you immediately started training for another Ironman…I wondered when you would fall apart.” Sometimes it is good to have outside perspective.

For the record, I am not falling apart. I am just having a moment. Or, a bunch of moments all in a row.

Today is a rest day and I took some time to mentally re-bound. How do you bounce back when you are experiencing the B.O.? (No, not the Body Odor. I know how to handle that – isn’t it called FDS?).

Let me clarify. I am not experiencing physical burn-out. My body feels great. It is purely mental.  Although, I do realize mental burn-out can lead to physical burn-out and vice versa.

Here are some ways to tackle burn out when you are still in the thick of your training and there is no light at the end of the tunnel:

1. Admit It. This is always step #1 whether you are an alcoholic or a burned-out athlete. There is no shame in saying you are sick of your training. It doesn’t make you weak or less of an athlete or a turd. Admitting it feels really good and lets the people around you who care about you inside your head a bit. They think you are crazy anyway, so now let them think you are crazy and honest.

2. Take Two or Three. God forbid in Ironman or marathon training you would take more than one rest day a week. But, if it takes an additional day to recoup and regain your positive attitude, then by all means - take it.

3. Lighten Up. You do this for fun, supposedly. It’s not meant to be torture or to make you miserable. You are not a pro athlete (and if you are and reading the blog I am not sure why). Don’t take yourself so freaking seriously.

4. Broaden Your View. When we have a big race goal, it is easy to not only spend hours per week training, but many more hours perseverating on our training and goals. Sometimes we don’t even know how much of our time (both waking and sleeping – hello race day nightmares/dreams!) we spend just thinking about all of it. Yesterday I decided I would make a conscious effort to step away from thinking so much about my training and to focus more on the present moment, whatever that might be. Dinner with my family. A walk with the dog. Playing volleyball with my daughter. Don Draper on Mad Men.

5. Quit All Training and Racing and Take Up Knitting.

If all else fails, take pictures of signs you see on the side of the road when you are riding or running to lift your spirits. Here are two I saw this weekend.

This is very good advice. Drowning would be the ultimate burn-out.

IMAG3016

And, just in case you needed some “clean” poop you can get it here (talk about an oxymoron! Clean Poop?):

IMAG3031

Or, you could see what kind of shapes the sweat on your shorts makes – butterfly?

photo 2

 

Have you ever experienced training BO? How did you deal with it?

SUAR

36 comments:

  1. I view maintaining healthy choices like I do my marriage; on days I can't even stand the sight of my husband, I actively choose to love him. Motivated or not, I am choosing to be healthy. Every. Single. Day. For me, the psychology of being healthy is the hardest part. I "burn out" there...a lot.Then I do a Dory, from Nemo, "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming." :) Love it, even when I loathe it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. While marathon training I've found that mental burnout is usually a sign that my body is nearing burnout too, before I feel anything physically. The times I've ignored the mental part and tried to push through, I've wound up exhausted and then with a cold or some other bug, if I keep training through that without enough rest I'll wind up injured for sure. For me, those 2-3 days off every once in a while during a training cycle are mandatory, and really wish I had known that before having to learn the hard way!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I got burnt out a few years ago and took almost 2-3 months off from running. I was so tired and didn't find the joy in running anymore. After a break I was ready to get back into it and I haven't looked back since!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I seem to get burned out out of nowhere! I never know how to combat it; facing it head-on and forcing runs doesn't seem to work, but if I take time off, then I slip down the slippery slope of TONS of time off. I like your POV of burnout being a bunch of little moments. I guess you just have to get going when there's a break between one moment and another!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anybody training for Ironman that says they haven't had some burnout is either lying their face off, or isn't really training. Take a break; it's the best thing you can do. Get totally away from it, and do things you haven't done. Eat things you haven't allowed yourself to eat, though a WHOLE chocolate cake probably isn't a good idea, at least not in one sitting. Half a cake is fine. Hug your family and tell them you love them, and do something for them that will make them happy. Whatever it is. But for sure take care of it while it's small, because it only gets worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good advice. But why not the whole cake?

      Delete
    2. Because a whole chocolate cake takes training that usually only teenage boys are capable of. And there's the 'never eat anything bigger than your head' rule. You have to draw the line somewhere.

      Delete
    3. A whole chocolate cake is guaranteed to be a toilet filler too! Porta-potties are not made to handle that much!
      Amy P. Philly Runner

      Delete
  6. I started cycling and swimming a few years back, and it sucked so bad I had no choice but to go back to running!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was just googling burnout running today! Ha! This came just at the right time. Thanks. I think I'll stick with knitting!:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. The butterfly sweat stain. Not something I can erase from my mental camera roll any time soon. So sick and so funny -- the best possible combination! LOVE IT!
    And once again, you're right on with the tips for how to combat BO. I love you Beth!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Felt burned out after running my fall marathon and switched my focus to 10K. My training approach was very different and it was hard to motivate myself to do the workouts. This past winter didn't help, either!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Experiencing it right now, mentally and physically. After 3 pretty tough half marathons, I've decided to scale back on the running and focus on cross training and strength training. I've been super discouraged, almost to the point of feeling like I'm not meant to be runner. I'm going to give myself a little break to regroup. I hope I can come back stronger, physically and most importantly, mentally.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Taking a break is the best cure for training burn-out. Not sure what the cure for post-surgery rehab burn-out is...if anyone has a suggestion for that one, fill me in. #3 is a great one to remember. Hope you're back to your old spunky self soon :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. LOVE your blog....so real and unapologetic.....and hysterical!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. If I'm getting burned out it probably means I'm training too hard and I throw in some rest or easy days. Very important !

    ReplyDelete
  14. First of all mmmm Don Draper! Second, it's so refreshing to hear people talk about training burnout. I feel like so often everything you hear/read is all roses and the "I love running/training/biking/swimming" talk. I definitely suffered last fall/winter after back to back marathon training cycles. Burn out city! -Christine

    ReplyDelete
  15. great post. i think everyone can certainly relate to this. i love the suggestion of taking more than one rest day if you are BO (gasp!!!) haha. i was recently reading Kara Goucher's "running for women" and she was saying how important it is to write down priorities in life and keep your life balanced... of course leading up to a race... the race may be first priority in life and thats okay. but to remember to not forget about things that you love...your kids, husband, cooking, reading, whatever it is. sometimes you need a quick reality check and to regroup a bit.

    another thing that would be fabulous is a rest day that incorporates sleeping in, a massages and maybe a pedicure. now that'll help for sure. haha

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've suffered burn out during and after marathon training. Rather than pushing through it, or quitting everything entirely, I do something else active but totally unrelated to training. Kayaking is my favorite non-training sport. It's still a workout, but relaxing, and plenty of room in the kayak for hot tamales and cake :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. A pick me up read AND a vocabulary lesson!! (perseverating)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ha, you always have the greatest photos. My burn outs (in running) have only happened when I am chasing goals that are about ego and not joy

    ReplyDelete
  19. Heck I think I'm totally screwed. I've got job B.O. so I run to feel humanlike again. What happens if that gives me B.O. too?!? Aw crap.....
    And FYI...tag! You're it!!....http://blackdogrunsdisney.com/2014/05/05/you-like-me-you-really-like-me-i-think/

    ReplyDelete
  20. Taking a few days always works for me. I put working out aside, visit friends I've been neglecting or read a book. Maybe a leisurely, for fun only bike ride too.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I start running in Feb & March, then ramp up to a half marathon every May, continue with halfs and trail races through summer and train for a Fall full marathon. Taper down with a few trail races and a half or two. Then take completely off from the end of December - February....eat, drink, enjoy the holidays with my family and don't even think about running! It's awesome. But by the time February rolls around, I'm long to get back out there and excited for spring races! My body and mind both need that break!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this idea! It makes perfect sense for someone like me who can't really run outside during the cold of winter and HATES the treadmill.

      Delete
  22. Thank you for the opening sentence, says the perpetually injured one! But I think one of the chief reasons I didn't do another IM after my first is that I knew I was not mentally there to handle it. And then I will say that last fall, after about four marathons in two years, I burned out on the distance. I think it's really easy to do. Just keep tabs on yourself and always remember that when it fails to be fun, there's no point in pushing it!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ugh, suffering from this right now. I have run 3 marathons since January, a Ragnar Trail relay two weeks after marathon #2, then flew to marathon #3 two weeks after Ragnar. And I have Ironman Raleigh in 3 weeks, Ironman Louisville in August, The Bourbon Chase relay in October, and the JFK 50 mile race in November. And I ran 3 relays in 6 weeks and two half marathons between October and December 2013, promptly injuring myself. I'm burned out mentally, I took a day yesterday off, when I was supposed to swim an hour yesterday and blew it off. I love racing and always bite off more than I can chew, but I think I have screwed the pooch in the last 8 months, and next 6...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Not there right now really, but oh God have I been there! It's just the start of race season for me (half marathon this weekend, then full marathon next month!!! Yay!). But this winter I got to a really ugly place where I HATED to run. After a busy fall race season, I should have taken a couple months off over the winter, but I had committed to running a half in January, so had to keep my training up all through December. I actually didn't put up Christmas lights on my house this year, because any day it was actually nice enough to be outside for an hour or two, I spent running. Bah humbug! Spent way too much time on treadmills and trying not to kill myself on ice/snow. Got to January and realized that I was pissed off every time I had to run.

    It's mostly better now. I think the change in weather has been the biggest thing to make me feel better about running again- finally a little warmth, a little sun! Although, I still have my really negative moments. My long run day last week was on a super windy day, and there was no other day I could do it (and no way I was doing 20 miles on the treadmill!) so I went out and ran in the wind. The first 10 miles were straight into a steady 23-28 mph head wind with nothing to block it. It sucked so bad. After 5 miles I was angry. After 8 miles I was crying (literally, like kinda weeping about how bad it sucks to run into the wind). At 10 miles I got hit full in the face with a HUGE wind gust, and it was just too much. I RAGED against that wind! Screamed every bad word I knew at it! I was just so utterly angry!!! And then- I turned around and ran with the wind to my back. And I was OK again.

    I'm really lucky noone was around to hear me. I would probably be writing this from a psych ward right now- that's how stinkin' crazy mad I was. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel your pain! I ran a half last weekend and it was SO windy! It was ok on the way out, but them I turned around and had it hit me full in the face. I may have growled and uttered many expletives for the next 6.5 miles. What is it about running into the wind that just makes you ANGRY?? LOL Way to hang in there.

      Delete
  25. I'm not doing anything as big as an IM..as a matter of fact, I just have a half in a week, no biggie...but I'm sure feeling burnt out. Not just in running, but in life....after the race, I need to juggle and refocus! I'm going to cut my miles, do some biking, and step back a bit....

    ReplyDelete
  26. When I focus just on waking up every morning at 430am, functioning on 5-6 hours of sleep, spending all my free moments foam rolling, icing, stretching blah blah blah.... I start to get this BO you speak of.
    I've learned when I start to feel this way, I need to re-evaluate my "whys". Sitting down and thinking about all of the pay offs (sense of accomplishment, better mental health, deeper sense of identity), help me kick BO in the arse.

    ReplyDelete
  27. That is why I only did 1 Ironman race, I got so sick of those long bike rides!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh burnout...it's the worst. I had a big burnout 2 years ago, I had 5 races in 7 weeks and it was way too much. I should have admitted that I needed a break, and maybe I wouldn't have had such nagging knee troubles. We are all human, we have to remember we're not machines!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm feeling a bit of the BO. I ran my first half of the spring/summer last weekend and have another in 6 weeks. I'm already feeling like UGH. NOT AGAIN. Yet, I know I want to do even better at the next one. I'm giving myself a few days off and then I'll be back at it. Because there's nothing like the threat of an impending race to get me motivated!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love your tip about taking pictures of the signs you see along the road. That seems like a great way to pass the time even if you aren't burned out, and help keep you in tune with your surroundings. I often find myself struck by how beautiful some of my runs are, it definitely helps to keep me going. Great post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Some of us run AND knit to keep our sanity. And the bonus is we get great hats for no-excuses winter running. Oh, yeah!

    ReplyDelete