You’re having the best training cycle of your life. Your hitting your workouts, your speed is increasing and then all of the sudden everything changes. You notice your pace is slowing, easy pace isn’t so easy anymore, your lacking motivation, and you are constantly feeling tired and defeated.
What I just described is how I have been feeling lately. It hasn’t gotten quite as extreme as I wrote above, but I can see it heading down that road. The scary part to me is I am less than 3 weeks away from the beginning of marathon training.
Last week I was feeling better while on vacation. I had a really good workout on Monday, but Wednesday’s was sub-par. The week before that I wasn’t able to complete my main workout and had to decrease the intensity of the second. In total that means I’ve had 1 good workout in two weeks.
I know my body well and I know when it needs a break. On Tuesday, after a botched workout I knew I needed to re-group.
I slowed down and ran the rest of the week very easy and focused solely on running for recovery. I’m hoping that slowing down some will help my body avoid the burnout I can see coming and get ready for the training ahead.
Burn out and over training are things that many runs will deal with at some point in their life. I’ve seem my husband go through it and I’ve gone through it myself. So how do you know when it’s happening to you?
Here are a few signs to look for:
One of the first signs for me was the fact that my workouts were going so poorly. Of course, bad workouts happen but when you begin to notice a downward trend that could be a sign of over being over trained.
Lack of Motivation
There isn’t a single week that goes by that I am always excited to get out the door at 4:30 in the morning, but when I began to really struggle mentally with even finding motivation to run at all I knew something was wrong.
The first time I wrote this I used the term “tired” but it goes far beyond that. I am tired many days during the week when I’m low on sleep, but when it comes to see a burnout coming I feel exhausted. My body doesn’t want to move. It’s no fun.
The “Fun” is Gone
This may sound silly, but it is usually a big signal to me that I need to change something. I’ve posted previously about what to do when running isn’t fun anymore, and there was a time I took a good 3 months away from it. However, when motivation dwindles and I start not having fun anymore I always know it’s time to break or at least do something differently. It doesn’t mean you need to quit running necessarily, but it’s time to re-evaluate.
This is one that I haven’t suffered from yet, but an early sign of over training is an elevated heartrate. The best way to test this is to take your heartrate when you are relaxed. If it is faster than normal, chances are you have pushed yourself too hard.
The good news: you can easily come back from over training and burnout. It’s nothing to be ashamed of either, it happens to the best of us!
How you come back from it depends on the severity of it. There are some cases where you need to take time completely away from running, as I did previously. However, this time thankfully I caught it early.
So, what’s my plan of attack?
- Easy running – really slowing down for a few days to allow my body to regroup
- Extra rest – I am taking two rest days this week
- Less workouts – I will only have one workout this week, and most likely it will be an easier one at that.
- Alter My Training – I have 3 weeks until marathon training starts so doing 3 workouts a week isn’t smart. My goal is to do a maximum of 2 per week and that may be reduced to one depending on how my body responds.
- Avoid Running in Extreme Heat – After a week of running in pretty extreme heat, I think my body is just worn down. I’m trying to get most all my runs done early to avoid extreme heat as much as I can.
Have you ever gotten to a point of over training or burnout?
What are signs you see when you are pushing too hard?
Hey, marathon training is hard and time consuming, and I don’t blame you a bit for addressing this now and taking some time off, resting more, cutting back workouts,etc! I also think that adapting to the heat is a big part of it, my first few runs in the heat were the worst and left me spent. For me, adapting to the heat was just like adapting to a higher mileage or adding speed workouts. You are doing a great job and I bet with a cutback week or two, you will be good for marathon training :).
Good topic. It used to happen to me every track and cross country season in high school. After months of hard training and racing, I would be so sick of practice that I wouldn’t run again until the next season. The long periods off didn’t help me much.
I am able to control burn out better being my own coach and using the things you mentioned. Namely an extra day off here or there or a recovery run instead of a tempo run when legs are dead and I am not really training for anything specific. I have taken some short injury time off periods over the last couple of years, but I have been thinking that after my fall marathons of taking a full month off and really having an “off season”. I have this chronic fear of loosing too much of what I have gained, but maybe in the long run I will be more focused and recharged for the spring marathons.
~ Run with joy!