Tuesday, December 23, 2014

7-Day Guide to Booting BURNOUT.

You sign up for a race. A long one. You start your training program full of enthusiasm, energy and good intentions. You bounce through your mid-week runs and tackle your long weekend runs like a champ. You're strong, serious and totally focused. Then, about a month before race day, just when you need your gusto the most, it hits. The B-word. BURNOUT. Running is the last thing you want to do. You'd rather scrub your bathroom while listening to your 8-year old bang on his new drum set than trudge through your long run. Your legs are sore, your playlist is getting stale and there are about a hundred other things you'd rather be doing.

Where did this come from? What the heck, man?!
Don't worry, you're not alone.

In the final weeks leading up to the Instant Classic Marathon last March, I had a mildly serious case of burnout. The hours-long solo jaunts in the woods that were initially super peaceful and enjoyable began to feel dangerously like work. I trudged through the last few weeks of training and tried to stay focused on the finish line. When race day finally came I was glad I'd logged so many hours out on the trail. I'd done my homework, so to speak, and the result was a super successful day for my first 26.2-miler.

I've flown through my 50k prep much more smoothly. I'm more confident, less obsessive and having way more fun than I did back in the spring. I've been having so much fun that I actually thought I might be immune to those pesky "Over It" feelings… Fat chance, lady. The dreaded B-word crept up on me during my last week of "real" training before the 50k. This time around, I faced it head-on, giving it the boot like a crappy ex-boyfriend.

Here's my 7-day guide to Kicking Burnout to the Curb.

This guy loves the 80's. You should, too.
Day 1-Crank up the tunes.

Sometimes a fresh playlist or Pandora station can really give your run a boost. I usually run with music for my short runs, and there's nothing like a solid 80's Rock anthem to pop me out of a funk. After all, a mild case of burnout is no match for Journey. Don't Stop Believing.


Day 2-Go to your Happy Trail.
If you're like me, you probably have a route or trail that's tops on your fun list. For me, it’s a 7-mile loop down by the river. I head out from Reedy Creek, trek up Buttermilk and sail back on Northbank, sprinting across the pedestrian bridge for kicks. That route makes me feel like a superhero. I love powering up the hills, sprinting the descents, jumping over roots and leaping off rocks. Nothing will make you remember why you love running like your favorite stomping ground.
If you don't have a trail-running "happy place," give mine a try.
It’s awesome.

Northbank Trail, RVA. Happiest trail I know.
 Day 3- Watch TV.

No, not Dancing With the Stars. I recently watched a special about the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. While I was impressed by the elite athletes who were competing for the World Championship title, it was the amateur competitors who amazed me the most. Some of these remarkable athletes had overcome serious injuries, life-changing disabilities and personal tragedies on their journey to Kona. The stories of perseverance and personal struggles featured in the special were inspiring and totally humbling. I hit the trail the next morning with a fresh attitude; thankful for two working legs, two seeing eyes and the opportunity to enjoy another beautiful morning on God's green Earth.

 Day 4- Cross-Train.
Check out a cycle class, take your dog for a hike or fly a kite with your kid. Do something that's not running. Dance, Zumba, Hula-hoop, whatever. Enjoy the day off, drink a smoothie, get refreshed and give yourself a chance to miss those running shoes for a minute.
Exploring @ Rockwood with my favorite cross-training buddy.

 Day 5- Pat yourself on the back. A little.

There’s a small wall in my room dedicated to my hobby, complete with a running poster, a few race pictures and several bibs from my favorite events, along with a bunch of quotes that inspire me. Whenever I'm just not feeling it, I go there, where I'm reminded of some of my favorite moments and of how far I've come. I remember my first 5k, 10k, ½ Marathon and full Marathon. I remember each finish line and the tremendous sense of accomplishment I felt on each of those special days. You've got to be willing to give yourself a pep-talk every now and then. Maybe even throw in a little football-style butt-pat, too, while you're at it.

 Day 6- Find a buddy for your long run.
 I usually prefer to fly solo, but when those long runs get super long, a little company starts to sound really nice. Finding someone to run your 20-miler with you on short notice might be a little tricky. However, you probably can snag a running buddy for at least part of your run. Map out a loop course or pick a meeting place at your halfway point. They could even bring a bike along. My cyclist hubby joined me at Pocahontas for one of my 20+ milers. It was one of our most fun, least expensive and most hilarious dates ever. I even let him carry all my stuff. He loved that.

My hubs @ Pocahontas State Park. His first audition for trail-running crew chief was pretty solid.

Day 7- Relax, Man.
Its Rest Day! Soak it UP. Have some ice cream and watch Bridget Jones' Diary.  Whatever floats your boat. You’re one week closer to the finish-line magic that surely awaits you with no burnout in sight. Tell your kid to pipe down on those drums, you've got some relaxing to do.

'Til next time!

Run Happy  :)