Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Banish Burnout

A friend of mine was scanning her calendar searching for a single hour in her busy day in which to squeeze in a run. “Do you ever get burned out?” she asked me.

The answer? A resounding, “yes!”

My first triathlon this year is in May and the last one is in September, with two or three others in-between. I usually start training two months before a race so, in all, I will be in training for at least six months. By the end of August I am usually facing a serious case of burnout and my toughest race is yet to come.

So, how to keep workout burnout at bay? Here are few tips that keep me going when burnout threatens to strike:

1. Don’t start training too early. Take stock of your baseline fitness level and develop an appropriate training schedule. Training for eight to twelve weeks prior to a race is usually an adequate amount of time to prepare for most races.

2. Keep workouts fun. If you are running or biking, choose a new route every few weeks, or pick a fun destination where you can meet a friend for coffee or lunch afterward. Occasionally pause to appreciate the scenery; something not easily accomplished when the landscape is whizzing by.

3. Variety is the spice of life. Any workout at the same speed, distance and location is bound to become monotonous. Add intervals and hill workouts to your normal routine, drive to a new location for a change of scenery, vary your weight lifting sets and include a variety of strokes in your swim workout.

4. Recruit friends. Working out alone can be, well, lonely. I am not a chatty runner, but I thrive on the camaraderie of lots of people working toward a similar goal. Gather a group and register for the same race so you can motivate each other, train together and cheer each other on at the finish line.

5. Identify role models. Find others who inspire you, whether it’s a professional athlete or the mom in your neighborhood who is out there every morning pushing her double jogging stroller.

6. Treat yourself. If you are diligently working toward your fitness goals and torching extra calories, allow yourself to indulge in your favorite foods in moderation; you earned it!

7. Try something new. Think outside of the box when it comes to fitness. Instead of going for another run, why not hit the trails for a hike instead? Ditch your weight lifting session to paddle a kayak around a lake. Try yoga, Zumba, rock climbing, roller blading or karate. The new experience will invigorate your mind and challenge your muscles.

8. Take a break. When you simply are too tired, too sore or too unmotivated to workout, give yourself permission to skip it and do something else you enjoy, like reading a book or taking a leisurely walk with your dog; just don’t make a habit of it. After a day or two of rest, you might find you are itching to get back to your workouts again.

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