Beating Burnout?!?

author : acbadger
comments : 0

Member Question:

How to beat burn out? I don't know where I went wrong. I wish I kept a log during the semester of the training I've done so I could figure it out. I started out weak, got pretty strong, felt GREAT…now I feel like I am on a downward spiral back to square one. I don't know what the heck is going on! It's mostly running because that's all I've had time to do. I actually got up to 5 miles which was monumental for me! Now I can barely finish 2 miles at an 8 1/2 minute mile pace. It's extremely frustrating and I even get in a bad mood when I run. I think I might have increased my mileage too fast. I started in January. I wasn't even going miles at all in the beginning.


I got up to 5 miles a couple weeks ago. Is that too fast of a build up? I think I jumped from doing about 2 miles to doing 4 miles once a week. That was when I started to slow down. And the weather started to warm up which I didn't think would be so uncomfortable but it was! And is! I have a hard time catching my breath now too, even at short and slow distances. Is it allergies? I hate this - I was on such a roll!! Anyone ever go through this? How do I beat this? I hope it's just a slump (the "shanks" as golfers say ), or maybe its all in my head! UGH! Any advice will be most appreciated - thanks!


I’m not sure that your problem is so much burn out, but changes in your environment and attitude. I know EXACTLY where you are coming from!!! We are going to hit this problem head on!

You need to incorporate cross training into your workout. It’s VERY easy to start to dislike your workouts when you have nothing new to look forward to. You cannot expect to improve EVERY run out. That is why it becomes frustrating to have running be your only workout. Here is my suggestions to you:

  1. Start cross-training. Enjoy some new cardiovascular exercises. Get on a bike, go for a swim, hit the elliptical trainer. Enjoy some non-impact exercises. This will also save some wear and tear on your body. The elliptical trainer is just as good as going outside for a run minus the impact. Just be sure you are putting resistance on the machine (at least a level 8). If you choose to run inside on the treadmill, be sure you are putting the incline up to 1% grade. This most simulates an outdoor run, while decreasing the impact thanks to the cushioned belts. Do new things! Change programs! Listen to music and work at different intensities that correlate with different parts of the song (run/pedal faster on the chorus’ than the refrain). Shake it up. You won’t believe how this will help your outdoor runs.

  2. Learn how to cope with the changing temperatures. You may have to start running earlier in the morning to beat the sun and humidity. Be sure you are ALWAYS running with water. Try to choose well shaded courses (trails are GREAT as temperatures rise) if you cannot run early in the morning.

  3. Learn how to breathe. It seems like something we shouldn’t have to think about while we are exercising…it should come naturally, but it doesn’t. Concentrate on inhaling and exhaling to the beat of your favorite song. It is kind of like practicing Lamaze. Sure, Lamaze is GREAT for pregnant women, but it doesn’t so much take away the pain, as it gives women something else to focus on (other than the pain). It will do the same for you! Trust me. I’ve used this technique, not only when I was having my son, but on many, many, many different runs!! Another thing that will affect your breathing, is, as I stated earlier, your attitude during your run. It’s OK to have a bad run. It’s OK and perfectly normal to feel bad during a run. Just relax, enjoy the fact that you are outside, enjoy the fresh air and cut your run short. The more frustrated and mad you get about a run, the more physiological changes occur affecting your breathing, form and posture. Brush it off, head to the gym and jump on another cardio machine, or take your frustration out on your biceps! Nothing beats stress like a good strength training workout!!

  4. Accept that you are going to have some bad days. As much as we’d like to believe that we are going to improve with every run and continually get better, it is just not a reality. Changes in your sleep pattern, eating pattern, drinking just a little less water than usual, or a combination of the above can change the outcome of any run.

  5. Concerning your increase in mileage...this is an easy one. Follow the 10% rule. Only add 10% more mileage each week to your training regimen. If one week of adding 10% was difficult, don’t increase your mileage again until that amount of running becomes comfortable. We do not follow the sentiment “No Pain, No Gain” around here. We want you to enjoy exercise, not dread it!

  6. Last but not least, decide what you are going to focus on with your runs. Do you want to be able to run longer or run faster?? Do you want to lean out or build muscle and gain strength? Once you have decided what is going to be your focus, you can make your workouts effective yet fun. Please, don’t get discouraged, just change things up and if you take ANYTHING away from this email…take this: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If a 2 mile run is difficult, so be it. Do 2 miles and gradually add on as you feel more comfortable (following point #5).

I can tell that you are a hard worker from your question, and I can sense your frustration. That quality is what will keep you in the gym and committed to your workouts. Just take a deep breath, get that journal you were wishing you had earlier, and start over. That is the beautiful thing about exercise…you can start a new workout regimen whenever you want. It’s best to add variety and keep your workouts new, interesting and exciting. You’ll find that your mind, body and soul will thank you for it!

Good luck and keep moving!


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date: May 1, 2006


Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!


Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!

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