How to Beat Training Burnout

amywillGuest blogger Amy Will shares how she avoided burn out while juggling marathon training and the responsibilities of being a new parent.

As I signed up to run my sixth marathon, the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon, I couldn’t anticipate how very different this race would be. This would be my inaugural marathon as a wife and new parent.

My post-baby body felt near normal, but I found myself physically and mentally exhausted as I adjusted to being a mom. In the peak mileage of training, I found myself completely burnt out and questioning whether I wanted to even run the race anymore! My desire to run had somehow snuck away. What was I thinking when I signed up for another marathon? Basically, I was burnt out – big time.

The lack of sleep, pressure I put on myself to run a certain finish time, not listening to my body, and the stress of being a new mom eventually got to me. Just in time to run my last training 20-miler, I came down with a nasty sinus infection.

I did my best not to stress about running only one 20-miler, the less than ideal training, and the fact that I didn’t even want to run this race anymore. In the last couple weeks before the race, I did my best to find joy in running again and escape this running rut.

Here are a few ways I beat the training burnout:

Beat Training Burnout

beat buirnout
Why Do You Run?
Remember what drew you to running in the first place. For me, I remind myself that I run for FUN! I ran my first marathon in 2010 after listening to a few MTA podcasts and have been running ever since. I love the competition and just the simple act of running. Regular exercise has definitely given me more energy to chase our son around!

Switch It Up.
Cross-training offers not only a physical break for your body, but also a mental break. If running is stressing you out, take an extra day to rest or cross train. I do yoga or strength training a few times a week to add a little variety to training and exercise different muscle groups.

Run Socially.
Recruit a friend to run with you or join up with a local running group. If there’s no running group in your town, get a little crazy and start one yourself. A simple posting in the newspaper was all it took to start our local running group last fall!

Ditch the Technology.
Leave your running watch at home and run by the way your body feels. Knowing your pace is helpful in training, but it can also leave you feeling defeated post-run if it didn’t go as planned.

Adapt the Plan.
Adjust your training plan as necessary and don’t let the plan run you! When I came down with a sinus infection a few weeks before the race, I dropped a 20-miler and took another rest day. Missing a peak long run was very frustrating, but it was the best choice for my body and the current situation.

Running Motivation.
Talk with other runners, listen to running podcasts, or read about running to boost your motivation. Our local running group has been very helpful to keep me motivated, along with the MTA podcasts and my favorite running reads. Ryan Hall’s book, “Running with Joy”, is my all-time favorite.

Crossing the Finish
In the end, the Blue Ox marathon went better than expected and I finished in 3:37:37. My legs were near useless by mile 20 and it was clear that I only ran one 20-miler in training! Prayer, thinking of my family, and dreaming of a nice warm latte kept me motivated to run the last 10k of the race.

This time around, the best part of crossing the finish line wasn’t my medal or my time; it was holding my son in my arms after the race. Being a new parent has changed my life and running drastically but definitely for the better. Sneaking in the occasional early morning run before my husband and son wake up, running with the jogging stroller, and being flexible with the training schedule to meet my family’s needs are all so worth it.

I am very thankful for a supportive husband and our son to come home to after each run. Who knows, maybe our little guy will want to run a marathon someday, too!

3 Responses to How to Beat Training Burnout

  1. Angie Spencer December 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Wonderful suggestions Amy! Thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations on an awesome finish time.

  2. Chris Monasmith December 23, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Wow this is a great read, thanks Amy. I work in the education industry, so the holiday season is always hard for me to stay motivated because of unusual sleep habits. I always try to remember that there are people who cant run and would love to be able to run. That usually keeps me moving!

    Congrats on the marathon!


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