Dealing with Burnout: T -11 Days

I have been trying to ignore this feeling for the past two weeks but I just can’t hide it any longer:

I. Am. Burned. Out.

I have been training nonstop for the past eight months. March 20 will be my third half marathon in less than four months. And I am getting tired.

I signed up for the half marathon I ran in January on accident. At the end of last year I signed up for a race package through Run Project, not realizing that the first two races were a 10k in mid January and a half marathon at the end of the same month. After my half marathon I had started training for an indoor triathlon through Lifetime Fitness that was held in December. My runs were 2-3 miles, max. Once I realized how close the two Run Project races were, I immediately jumped back into training.

Upon completion of the January 31 half marathon, I realized I only had seven weeks to train for the March 20 Rock n Roll, one of which I would end up resting. This cycle of running half marathons six weeks apart has led to consistent weekend runs of at least nine miles, leaving me very little time to socialize or do much else. The second half of the training plans are always more intense than the first half, leaving me no breaks in training between races. Those of you who run long distances or train hard know that when you approach the end of a training plan, you are solely (see what I did there?) either training or resting. With every bite of food you take, with every size weight you pick up at the gym, with every social gathering you choose to attend or decline, you have the goal race in mind. And I think I’m just ready for a breather.

Unfortunately, I planned out my race schedule for the entire year already. The next race I have my eye on is the Wounded Warrior half marathon in June. Proceeding with this race means I have virtually no time off from training, as it is exactly twelve weeks after the Rock n Roll. The problem with living in Texas, though, is that running a half marathon any later than June is almost guaranteeing uncomfortably hot and humid race conditions. So now my options are to either run the Wounded Warrior or to postpone my training for almost six months, until the weather cools off. I was relieved to come up with a solution on my last long run.

That’s my favorite part of running. When the runner’s high kicks in, and I know I have a while before I need to turn back around, I just get lost in my thoughts. I always bring problems with me on my runs. Some people like to zone out and just enjoy the run, but I prefer tackling my problems while my mind is at its clearest. Never do I feel more relaxed and able to think clearly than when I am running. Whether it is a problem with work, a friend, or a guy, I love brainstorming solutions during my run.

On my last long run, I brought a different problem with me: I solved my running problem while running. After huffing and puffing through the first few miles with only one word (BURNOUT! BURNOUT! BURNOUT!) flashing through my mind, I finally settled into my stride and let my brain do the work. And I have finally come up with a solution to dealing with my burnout.

I can’t skip the Wounded Warrior. I am planning on running my first ever full marathon this fall and I want to be as prepared as I can. Five months without training for something just won’t cut it. So, I have decided to scale back my training to an easier plan. I am the biggest fan of Hal Higdon, and have been using his Intermediate half marathon plan. However, I decided that for the Wounded Warrior I will scale back to Novice 2. The Novice 2 plan is four days of running instead of five, and the only speedwork is one weekly run at race pace. There is a day devoted to cross training, and I can choose to incorporate strength training, or not. (I definitely will – strength training is my second favorite workout behind running.) This plan seems much more suitable for my next round of training than the current plan. 400m sprints just aren’t my thing, and I’ve finally accepted that!

I feel relieved and totally comfortable with this plan. I don’t need to constantly be training hard. Switching to the Novice 2 plan means I can take a couple weeks off after Rock n Roll if I choose to before easing back into training, although I’m sure within a few days of finishing the race I’ll be lacing up my running shoes again. Let’s be real, I’m a runner. Plus, running a half marathon in mid-June means my body will be in tip top shape for summer! (What? Y’all thought I only run because I love it?)

I’m grateful to Sunday’s long run for many reasons. I’m grateful for the clarity brought to me by my runner’s high that helped me plan for my next race. I’m also grateful to the run for reminding me why I make so many sacrifices for this sport. Nothing can replace the feeling of accomplishment you get when you see your endpoint on the horizon, and know you gave it your all on the pavement for the last couple hours. Nothing can replace the oneness you feel with yourself, in a way you can feel in no other setting. And these reasons were the deciding factor in whether to sign up for another race so soon. I just can’t quit this love of mine.

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