I like to joke to friends that running has been my best relationship. In the roughly eight years I've made running a part of my everyday life, I've logged in four marathons, completed dozens of half-marathons, and clocked in several thousand miles. And although training for races may be my soulmate, I'm not immune to a bout of fitness fatigue.
In fact, I've hit burnout so hard in the past that I almost ceased running for good. Despite facing the dreaded plateau, I was able to bounce back and fall even more in love with running than before. But there are some key things I always do to keep myself motivated when I start to face training burnout.
Accept It Happens
Fatigue from the rigor of daily training is a factor for every athlete, no matter the skill level or intensity of the workout. Heck, burnout is just human nature across the board. Yet, when I remind myself I'm not alone in this feeling and that it's not a reflection of my performance or dedication to my sport, a weight is instantly lifted from my shoulders.
Mix Up My Normal
Runners are notorious for sticking to their set training schedules — intervals here, long runs there. But at the first sign of burnout, I immediately abandon my plan and toss in a Spin class or sign up for yoga after work. The switch may seem small, but it reminds me that there are plenty of fun ways to push my body outside of a set training plan. Plus, once I'm ready to go back to my schedule, I'm actually excited to do so.
Switch Up My Shoes
After years of running, I know my burnout often stems from a lack of performance improvement. This is usually a cue to me that my gear (namely, my shoes) needs to be retired. Most recently, I've been on the hunt for a new pair of kicks to energize myself as I set out to train for my next marathon. The HOVR™ Rise Training Shoes ($100) are leading the pack of my training list thanks to their high performance durability and stability. The impact-eliminating technology as well as abrasion-resistant structure mean that gear is the last thing on the brain during a run, which has this runner just itching to hit the pavement.
Set a New Goal, Even If It's Just a Fun One
I typically have a very specific goal in mind for training: a race, a PR, log 50 miles a week. But switching this goal up drastically helps me when I'm on the brink of exhaustion. Perhaps my goal isn't to finish my half-marathon in two hours. Perhaps instead it's run at a comfortable pace so I don't look miserable in all of my race photos. (Actual goal of mine for my last race!) Setting a more realistic goal no matter how trivial it may seem always releases any training stress and inserts a little more fun back into my workouts.
Take a Break
Not to get all Ross and Rachel, but sometimes a break is a good idea. I was once so burned out from running a race every weekend for four months straight that I started to loathe actually training for said races. This put me at serious risk for injury and becoming disenchanted with the sport I love so much. Thankfully, I found the perfect cure for this was simply stepping back and pressing pause. (And no, this doesn't mean I'm on Ross's side.)