Runners World Articles: Archives - October 2001
Step Lively: Feeling down about your running lately?
Time to reenergize mind and body.
So, did you go for a run today? If so, congratulations. If not,
maybe it was a scheduled day off. That's always a good idea.
But if you missed your workout because you just didn't feel motivated
to head out the door, that's not so good. Sure, everyone feels a
bit unmotivated from time to time. If you're feeling that way on
a regular basis, however, you could be on the verge of burnout.
Or, maybe you're there already. Luckily, burnout is easy to overcome,
especially if you take action as soon as you notice the warning
signs. To that end, take the following quiz. A ³yes² to any of the
questions means you may need to take action. At right, we'll show
you exactly what to do to reenergize your running.
Burnout Quiz A "yes" to any of these questions means
you may need a boost (see below for remedies)
1. Are you unmotivated to run on 2 or more days per week?
2. After most runs these days, do you feel less satisfied than you
had been feeling during the previous 1 to 3 months?
3. When you run a good time in a race, do you skip past the enjoyment
of your achievement and immediately project ahead to your next goal?
4. When you run longer than usual, does it give you very little
or no sense of achievement?
5. When you have a bad run, or a bad race, do you feel discouraged
and defeated for several days or more?
6. Do you often find yourself looking for excuses to stop a run
1. Minimize mileage. If you reduce your mileage and the
number of days you run per week at the first sign of burnout, you
can rebound in as little as a week. Keep in mind that during times
of burnout, it's better to take a zero on a recovery day than to
run even slowly for a short distance. Try running every other day
for a week to see if your motivation increases. For more serious
burnout, you may need to stick to a 3-day running week for 2 months
to make sure you are recovered. Or even take a week off completely.
2. Don't be a taskmaster. It's fine to have realistic performance
goals. But remember: The key word here is realistic. Runners who
expect specific performances every time they run are setting themselves
up for disappointment. Instead, lay off the time goals for awhile.
Celebrate every run, regardless of your time.
3. Stop and sell the roses (and I mean it). At least 1 day
per week, schedule a tranquil run in a beautiful setting. Throughout
the run, force yourself to take at least five 1-minute walk breaks,
while you smell the flowers, take in the scenery, and simply appreciate
the great outdoors.
4. Put on the brakes. Burnout often plagues runners who
run daily at a pace that is too fast for them. In this case, you
should slow sown by 1 to 2 minutes per mile, particularly during
the first mile or two of every run. And cut out the speed sessions
and races for a month.
5. Reward yourself. Some runners need tangible incentives
to back off on their training. If this sounds like you, make a list
of rewards you can earn by taking specific actions to cut back on
your mileage or intensity. Hang up your list in easy view so that
you can remind yourself of your new goals and the rewards thay can
bring. For example, to focus on taking walk breaks, promise yourself
a massage after you take regular walk breaks for three runs in a
row. Or, if taking days off from running is really difficult for
you, reward yourself with a new piece of running gear after you
take off a few extra days during a given month.
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