Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Three Ways to Avoid Burnout: August Running Report

August is over and weeks 7-11 of training are complete. 173.2 miles for August, an all time high mileage month for me, a number I never dreamed was possible to run in one month. Time is flying, race day will be here before I know it. This month I dug in deep as the miles increased, experienced things I've never experienced in all my years of running, persevered on hard days, and grown so much in the process. Running 18-20 miles in one run is not for the faint of heart. But, when you complete such a task, it's a huge milestone. When you realize that you are capable of much more than you ever thought possible, it is confidence building.

I've been asked by several people if I regret my decision to run a full marathon, or if I'm tired of running yet.  Now twelve weeks into my seventeen week training, I can honestly say that I'm not burned out, I still love running, and I'm still happy with my decision to run a full marathon. Here's three ways, I've found this training cycle, to avoid burnout.

1. Be Fully Engaged. A podcast I listened to recently mentioned burnout usually occurs because you have become disengaged from what you are doing. I think the reason I haven't experienced burnout is that I fully invested myself in my goal. I picked a training plan, and have been following/working the plan closely (still haven't missed a training run yet). I'm starting to see the payoff of "putting in the work" with gains such as faster pace, feeling stronger each week as distances increase, and the satisfaction of hitting the pace times in a hard workout. I'm excited and looking forward to race day to see the results of what happens when you invest yourself fully. If you are feeling burnout set in, try to reengage with your goal. Does the goal you set still make you excited? Maybe you have been working too hard and need to pull back and set small, attainable wins to make you love doing that activity or working toward that goal again.

2. Revisit Your Why. I think it's also important to revisit your "why." Why did you set this goal in the first place? For me it is multifaceted. One, to challenge myself and do something hard. Less than 1% of the US population has run a marathon. What a feeling of accomplishment on race day to cross the finish line, completing something hard that most people have not done. Two, for the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. I can tell a huge difference in how I feel physically and my mood, when I exercise and move my body. It's a non negotiable for me. I always want to start my day doing some form of exercise. Three, to be an example/role model to my kids. I want them to see that you can challenge yourself, do hard things, work hard, and follow through in life! I hope that my example will inspire them to set their own goals and go after them. Lastly, I'm curious to see what I can do. I've never run a marathon before, will I love running 26.2 miles? What will my time be? Will I want to do another marathon, or is this a one and done thing? So many unknowns but I'm excited to see how this training cycle will wrap up and what it will lead to in the future. When training gets hard, and it will, remind yourself why you are working toward your goal to keep you excited and motivated to keep working.

3. Set Manageable Goals. I set out this training cycle with a time goal in mind, but I also have several different goal levels. I think it's important to have a multi tiered approach to goal setting, to not be so laser focused on a set goal time that you put too much pressure on yourself. Pressure to perform leads to burnout. I actually have five different goal levels that I've set for myself this training cycle. Level one, to cross the finish line. A huge feat in and of itself. Level two, a sub 4:00 marathon. All the way to my level five goal. I think it's good, healthy, and will set yourself up for success and not disappointment, by having many different level goals. 

I have a set time goal that I'm using as an infrastructure, that I've built my training around, to set myself up the best I can to see what I can do. Some runners set such a specific goal, or one too far out of reach right now, that when they see any inkling that the end result may not match their expectation, they become disengaged and start to lose interest. Enjoyment for me has come from the long term satisfaction of putting in the time, running each training workout, and putting in the hard work necessary to push myself. Whether I hit my ultimate top tier goal, or just level one, I've won! I'm excited to see what I can accomplish after putting in the time, and hard work. Set manageable multi level goals to avoid the pressure to perform and avoid burnout.

Another milestone ahead this week as I go into my first of three 20+ mile long runs before race day. Three hard weeks left, and then it time to taper. Unbelievable! Keep pushing ahead, putting in the time and work, in whatever goal you are working toward. You can do hard things. Don't give up.