Burnout while training for a marathon (in my experience) has been unavoidable. I'm just about 4 weeks away from my third marathon and I can feel the burnout brewing. (I'm not even in the taper yet. God help us all.) Burnout is a very real thing and it can really throw a monkey wrench in any training plan. If you're looking for a way to answer the phone when burnout calls like this --
instead of like this --
Here's my advice on staying motivated and fighting burnout:
1. Have Fun.
Do you hate working out? Yeah, so do I. No I'm serious, I'm not in love with working out. What I am in love with is working towards something incredible and terrifying that helps keep all my doubts and insecurities in check. That's why I run marathons. Now running 40+ mile weeks isn't what I would call a "good time." That's why I surround myself with wacky and fun people when I'm running and cross training! From my physical therapist (who I see more than my friends and family) to my running friends and world's greatest sister (who rides a bike next to me for hours at a time), if you are suffering with people who make you laugh and smile, you forget you're suffering!
2. Change It Up.
Sometimes running can get really boring. When you notice that you aren't looking forward to a run, change it up! If I'm started to dread running I'll run 2 or 3 times that week and go really hard at a spin class or I'll try new fitness classes at my gym. Cross training isn't just another workout to check off your to do list. It's a way to have fun, change it up, build muscle and distract yourself from the monotony of running. (Yes running can be really boring. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or a magician.)
3. Find Speedy Friends.
This addition to my marathon training tool belt of tactics has been a total game changer. Because I'm a lazy-asaurus-rex who can't seem to motivate myself to run faster, I've started running with speedy friends. They take their easy day on a day that I need to run at race pace! I go faster while I try to keep up with their slow pace! Everyone wins! Up until recently, I didn't even know I was capable of running 8 minute miles because I never wanted to try. Then I started running with my faster friends and I started pushing myself so I could keep up.
4. Motivate Yourself With Post Run Treats.
If you're a runner who lives on kale, spinach and all things healthy, then reward yourself with...kale? I've got nothing for you. I salute you but I don't understand you. I'm not about that life. I'm all about inhaling a burger and a beer after a 15 mile run. I eat pretty healthy but don't get me wrong, I love being able to reach for a bagel in the morning or a cupcake at work without feeling guilty. Will I run an extra three miles for an ice cream cone? You bet I will. Will I run an extra 3 miles if I tell myself there's a green juice waiting for me? No. No I won't. I run to eat people, no shame here.
5. Entertain Yourself.
If you're following me on social media, there's a reason I upload 30 snapchats during a long run -- I'M DISTRACTING MYSELF! I can't really come out and complain about how tired I am, that's annoying! But if I do it in a way that makes me laugh, then we all win! If you see me taking selfies or dancing it's because I'm starting to get bored and I'm trying to convince myself to keep going. Thank you social media for being an endless source of entertainment when I have to run 20 miles.
6. Every Run Has A Finish Line.
I may pretend like running isn't a big deal but every run is a triumph. I still can't believe I can run 3 miles. I don't care if I'm running an easy 2 or 3 miles or a long 22 miler, give every single run a finish line. Remind yourself why you do it and what you're running for (or even what you're running from). That helps me put everything into perspective when I'm just not in the mood. (And a quick look at a quickly approaching marathon always helps as well.)
When all else fails, take a kick back week. Go spend time with all those friends and family members you've been neglecting. Go to a happy hour. Go on a date or acknowledge that significant other you haven't seen in weeks. Hike, cook dinner, go to the beach/lake/park, get up and go do something that has nothing to do with running. You'll come back energized and you'll forget you were ever on the verge of burning out.
How do you fight burnout and find the motivation to keep going? Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.