i've been thinking a lot about burnout and finally feel like i can get my thoughts down in writing.
i mentioned a few weeks back that i was in a rut. and when the rut didn't totally go away, i started to panic inside. the fear of the word "burnout" was (no pun intended) burning in the back of my mind. its a word that i was dreading. the connotation with the word burnout (at least as it relates to running) was words like failure, done, forever - nothing in the positive realm. burnout seems like one of those things that other runners would respond to you with, "oh, oh my gosh, i'm so sorry" and then hope in their head it would never happen to them. i don't know why i have such a negative association with burnout, but i do. so you can only imagine what type of state i was in when i started to really realize that i was burnt out.
when i first started thinking about burnout i realized for the first time that i had run a race every month for over a year. 16 months, to be exact. this is the longest i have ever run consistently in my life and the longest i have ever raced consistently. and racing for a year straight is taxing. that's a lot of physical and emotional stress that is put on the body. i didn't realize how much racing was taking out of me until i was training in between half marathons #1 and #2 this year. i had no breaks. i had no down time. whereas prior to this year, i had only done one half marathon a year and i gave myself a long recovery period after the fact. needless to say, this year i was exhausted. i realize now that i need that release after an accomplishment like finishing a big race. i need that mental release and my body needs that physical rest.
i see so many of my runner friends and bloggers who can go out and sign up for a half marathon or marathon on a whim. they're running races back to back weekends. they're racking up race completion numbers like i've never dreamed of. and quite frankly, i've been jealous. i want to be able to sign up for a half marathon on a whim or do back to back big races. i want to be able to race year round without taking time off. i want to know that i'm a runner that can do that.
but the fact is, i can't. i have to accept that my body is not built to be a runner that can sustain that type of lifestyle. its evident in the overuse injuries i am dealing with now. its evident in the lack of mental focus and desire to get my last training runs in. who knows, maybe someday i will be that type of runner, but i have to focus on who i am now, and for who i am now it is not in my best interest to have that type of running lifestyle.
when i was researching runner's burnout, i found so many articles on how to avoid runner's burnout, but what about accepting it? what about recognizing it as a sign that you need a rest and that's okay?
accepting burnout was a hard reality for me to face. but sometimes, we have to look at ourselves objectively - uninfluenced by our own perceptions of ourselves or how we think others may perceive things or us. this is what i had to do to finally come to terms with burnout not really being a bad thing. instead, burnout for me means a chance to rest, recover and come back stronger than ever. burnout, in a way, is what i need to become a better runner. i need this time to rest. i need this time to figure out how to prevent over use injuries. i need this time to adjust to a new job and the stress that brings. and i need this time to become more self aware as a runner. and while it may be frustrating, the more i learn to accept it, the faster i will be able to embrace what i need this time period for and the sooner i will be able to get back on the road again.
what are your thoughts on burnout? have you gone through a burnout phase? did you embrace it? or fight it with all your might?