So I have had two, count’em two, crappy, horrible, tear filled, thumbs down, heavy legged races in a row.
Eff. My. Life.
I know, it’s a first world problem, but man am I frustrated and confused. Last year I did two a days, and worked my ass off and I kicked butt and took names in all the races I did leading into Dumbo Double Dare last summer. This summer, despite having some great tempos, long runs and some speed work and a few Fit 45 classes, it just didn’t happen. I felt lethargic. Tired. Heavy legged. Combine this with a groin injury, which I had thought was a hip injury, which has been a problem since late June, well…it hasn’t been fun.
Minnesota spanked me because of the dreaded hills and intense heat. I knew at mile 4 that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up my 8:23 pace to make the sub 1:50 time I wanted. Regina, I knew weeks before that I wasn’t feeling right. Like I said, I felt tired, heavy legged–just done..never mind the nagging groin injury. At mile 4 I sent my pacer/friend Oliver on his way and by mile 4.8 I had fallen apart, calling my dad for a much needed pep talk to keep me from quitting. I am proud to say I didn’t quit, but it was a close one. My confidence has been shattered by these last two outings as I worked my ass off.
This is not the picture of a girl feeling good at the beginning of a race–my friend O, on the other hand, looks positively thrilled. Oh and this is one of the less pained looking pics of me.
When my cooler head prevailed, I spoke to my dad, about how I felt during the run. He offered me his sage advice:
1. You have to figure out your mental game–be tough and stop putting so much pressure on yourself. My dad knows I let things get to me, unnerving my abilities and confidence…and he is sure that it was the problem with the Regina race specifically. He said to toughen up and not let little things (tired legs, lack of sleep, etc) get to me, making my mind up for me that the race is going to be a failure before it even begins.
2. As an extension to the first one–I have to break out of my comfort zone a bit more–and not in the way you think. He suggested I stop almost exclusively training on the treadmill and to join a running club. He suggested that treadmills are fine in winter or inclement weather, but my longer runs need to be outside to learn to deal with the elements–strong winds, hilly terrain, etc., and more importantly, learn to overcome those elements. Furthermore, he suggested that the better, funner (yes I like making up and using words that don’t exist) and safer way for me to accomplish this is by joining a running club.
3. Run a bit longer long runs. I typically only do a max long run of 12 miles. My dad has suggested that increasing those long runs to 15-17 mile territory, would change my mental game too, making 13.1 feel much easier.
Since I know parents tend to be right about everything, I am going to listen to him. I am going to try out a few local running clubs over the next few weeks until I head out on vacation and see which ones jibe best with me.
In addition to my dad’s advice, I am going to take heed of some external advice that I found on different websites like Runner’s World, Competitor, etc that suggest that I may have overdone it a bit on the training. One of the biggest symptoms is that you have more than one or two bad runs in a row, specifically that your bad run period is lasting a week or even weeks…oops. Some other key symptoms of overtraining are:
· Decreased energy and impaired recovery (notably decreased energy)
· Sudden drop in performance (absolutely!)
· Moodiness, irritability, depression, loss of enthusiasm for the sport (definitely lost a bit of enthusiasm for fitness in general the past few months)
· Chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches (definitely felt this one since June!)
· Impaired immunity (increased colds, sore throat, respiratory issues, etc. – not so much)
· Decreased appetite, GI disturbances (kind of the opposite snacked more due to exhaustion and frustration with poor running).
· Weight loss, excessive thirst (not really)
· Elevated resting heart rate (greater than five beats per minute over normal) (yep, noticed this and thought it was strange)
· Blood pressure changes (yep, was higher than normal)
· Increase in soft tissue injuries, stress fractures, muscle or joint pain (yep–this whole groin could be attributed to this)
· Absent or irregular periods (female athletes–but not this female athlete)
So…yeah…I’m going to take a break…and just maintain my running a bit, simply going by feel until I get back from vacation vs training for paces and times. Fingers crossed that this will get me back to the place I need to be as Glass Slipper Challenge is coming and I am determined to make up for this summer and get my Sub 1:50 goal.
One neat little trick to monitor burnout I had found was to rate your runs as Green (for all systems go, felt great), Yellow (struggled but it was aa doable challenge, Orange (this took a bit of extra hutzpah) to finish–it’s a character builder and I got it done) and Red (this feels like death and only finished my the skin of my teeth). If most of your runs are feeling like the red. I am also going to try and build some recovery weeks into my training so I can avoid burnout before it has the chance to begin.
What are your burnout avoidance tips? Let me know in the comments?