Looking Ahead

Now that I’m most of the way through the training cycle for half marathon #2, I’m feeling very introspective.  This summer, and really, most of this entire year, has been very run-centric.  I’ve logged a lot of training hours, covered a lot of miles, and spent a LOT of money on gear, fuel, and race entries.  I’ve spent countless hours reading running blogs and articles on Runner’s World.  I’ve made an incredible group of friends that I know I will meet In Real Life and race with some day.  And I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I know I can do hard things.  I can stick to a training plan.  I can achieve my goals.  I can run 13.1 miles in 80 degree weather, 90% humidity, and full sun.  I can keep going when all I want is to stop and rest.  And that’s pretty amazing.

Best picture ever--can you spot my mama?

I’ve learned a lot about running, too.  The thing at the top of my list right now is this:  long distance running requires a lot of time, and I’m not sure I want to make it a priority anymore.  I’m reasonably sure that I will never run a marathon.  I’ve said this before here, so it shouldn’t be that shocking.  But at this particular moment, I’m feeling pretty burned out on distance running in general.  My shorter training runs are feeling great, even the “tough” ones like hill repeats and 400s.  I can tell I’m getting faster and stronger.  But I’m starting to realize that I’ve really not been looking forward to long runs.  I’ve been putting them off, rescheduling them over and over, missing and making them up later, and pretty much just not wanting to devote my weekend mornings to running for multiple hours.

So not me right now

So not me right now

I’ve been doing what I need to do to get me through this race, but I don’t want to keep forcing myself to do something I’m not enjoying.  It’s starting to feel like an obligation rather than a gift.  I’m not saying I’ll never run another half marathon (in fact, there are several I want to do next year), but I just need some time to get my distance mojo back.  I’ve run two half marathons this year, and I think that’s plenty.  So after the half on November 2, I’ll be backing off on “long runs” and working on shorter distances.  Maybe focus on 5 ks and 10 ks for a while.  Do more speed work.  Do more lifting and yoga.  Read.  Watch TV.  Drink wine.  Ski.  Sleep.  Have a social life.  Hang out with my soon-to-be-husband.  All of the things that I haven’t been doing as much because I’ve been running long and “training” so much.  I think if I keep my fitness level up through the winter, I can maybe work with some shorter training cycles next year for longer races and not get this burned out feeling.

rungryWhile time is a huge factor in this decision, another factor is my overall fitness and health.  I love running and I know it’s good for me, but when I’m in training I eat A LOT.  I’m hungry ALL.THE.TIME–a painful, not-to-be-ignored hunger.  I understand that this is normal and good–I need the energy to run.  However, this has caused me to keep the extra 10 or so pounds that I put on last year.  I’ve talked about this a few times here, but I’m definitely not comfortable with where I am currently, and I obviously need to change what I’m doing if I want to see results.  I’m very curious to see if backing off on the long distance/endurance training and focusing on overall fitness with cardio, lifting, yoga and other activities will help me get back to where I was/where I want to be.  If I’m not so focused on completing specific training runs, I’ll have more wiggle room in my schedule for classes like Body Pump and Zumba, and more opportunity to just pop on a yoga video if that’s what I feel like doing.

So, yeah.  Distance running and I will be taking a break after November 2.  I feel good about this decision.  Like I said, it’s not a permanent breakup, I just need some time.  Sorry, distance running.  It’s not you, it’s me.

How do you deal with burnout?

How many long races (longer than 10k) do you typically run per year?

Do you suffer from debilitating runger when training?

22 thoughts on “Looking Ahead

  1. Brittany says:

    I got burnout maybe six weeks from my marathon. NOT GOOD. The best way I dealt with it was to just… keep going. Because at that point, I didn’t have much of a choice. But I did keep in mind all of the freedom I’d have after the marathon and how accomplished I’d feel after (swearing up and down that I’d never ever EVER do one again lol), and that helped at least a little bit.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I have definitely suffered the burnout… and every time I start to daydream about ALL the things I can do once I have the “freedom” to not run so much, I’ve got to have that talk with myself where I remember that hobbies are supposed to be fun. 🙂 I know that I and my body are happiest when I have plenty of time in life for other workouts (yoga, strength training). In my opinion, a 10k is just about perfect and a great plan for spring!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Yeah, I’d like to run an actual 10k race some time soon after only having done virtual ones. It seems like a really manageable distance–still challenging, but not as time consuming to train for.

  3. SuzLyfe says:

    I think that you are suffering more from life burnout than just from running burnout. Next time around, you won’t be as crazed, won’t feel so much pressure, you will just be able to enjoy it. At least I hope so 😀

    • DarlinRae says:

      I think life burnout is definitely an apt description-it just seems like running is the one thing I don’t want to do right now! I’m hopeful that after the wedding, I’ll be able to re-orient myself and get back on track.

  4. dgobs says:

    I hear you!! During my long run over the weekend, about 6 miles in, I’m pretty sure I yelled “I don’t want to run 13 miles!!” really loud and startled some passers-by. I like 5Ks, I like speedwork, I love feeling like I’m getting faster, and like you, I’m really not digging the long runs and all the time distance training takes. Right now, I’m thinking that I’ll do this half marathon, see how it goes, and maybe I’ll do one more sometime (likely to have a better experience than I expect to have in a week and a half) but then 5- and 10Ks seem to be my bag. And I’m okay with that decision. I don’t really want to run marathons, even though I am constantly impressed by people who do. I want to sprint, I want to do training runs that are less than an hour. So it’s not really burnout for me (maybe a bit?) but more of an acceptance that I don’t have to run marathons to be a runner. And that’s cool.

    And oh my god the runger. I want to eat ALL the things all the time.

    • DarlinRae says:

      Definitely feel you on the “don’t need to run marathons to be a runner.” It’s crazy impressive, and I fully support anyone who chooses to do so, that’s simply not me. I think it would be really cool to run super fast 5 ks!

  5. charissarunning says:

    I love your plan of taking a step back to do shorter races after your next half! Distance running is TOUGH and extremely draining. I have just gone through my own experience of burnout in marathon training (and experienced this last year as well when training for my first one) and am starting to make similar decisions. I decided to take a break from my official training plan and focus on the little things this month that make running enjoyable. My marathon is in December and I don’t know yet if I will run it or drop to the half. I have certainly already decided that next spring I’m taking a break from marathon training and just sticking to 5k’s – half marathons. I think we all need a break sometimes in order to focus on really enjoying our runs.

    Also, YES RUNGER!!! I am hungry all the time too and constantly need snacks and food while at work so that I don’t start getting faint. It’s the long distance running that does this. Our bodies need way too much fuel for these long runs…ugh!

    • DarlinRae says:

      It would be nice not to be dreaming about lunch after my 10am snack…

      I’m really looking forward to focusing on shorter distances and hopefully improving my 5k time with some races in the spring 🙂

  6. txa1265 says:

    I say it a lot, but I really don’t get why people view marathons and long distances as some ultimate goal?!? I mean, I am pretty sure some of the bloggers I follow would have fewer injuries if they just did shoter distances.

    And I agree with Suz – longer runs need to wrap around your life (and vice versa) so I think that it reflects an overall ‘done’ factor with life as welll as just running.

    There have been a number of studies showing how distance training is not really the best for weight loss … so you might see better results with shorter distances and more focused broad-based training.

    I also think it is important to be self-aware in this regard you are doing great. In the past when I have fallen out of the running habit and put some weight on it has been gradual – work gets busy, or stuff changes with the schedule for the kids, or whatever … and suddenly I am running less, then not at all.

    Social media has been helpful – I really think that there is some accountability bonus when you have ‘selfie groupies’ 😉 As an aside I had to laugh because some of my kids’ friends follow me on Instagram and one of the kids calls herself my #1 running selfie fan … haha.

    • DarlinRae says:

      I’m sure after a few months focusing on shorter distances, I’ll be ready and raring for another half next year, but I’m REALLY hoping my appetite subsides soon. It’s actually pretty uncomfortable feeling so hungry all the time.

      I think the timing is just really working against me here–deciding get married three weeks after my half was maybe not such a great idea?

  7. Falyn @ Slacker Runner says:

    Burn outs rough, it makes me wonder what the hell I am doing. The opposing is true too, not that I have backed off due to my health, all I want to do is go for a long run but I can’t. I have run 4 halfs this year and cancelled 2. That’s too much. I must have been cuckoo.

  8. Erica says:

    This is exactly my fear as I contemplate upping my distance. I enjoy the 10k, but have the itch to move up. I am not making the leap to the half just yet. I am joining the 10 miler clinic in January. IF I can handle that and feel good about it I am going to do the half. My worry is that I will start to resent running rather than want to run. Right now I am running 3 days a week. I am enjoying that and do not want to add another day, it works for me. Ive been told “you cant train for a 10miler or a half with only 3 days training” I aim to prove them wrong. I plan on making the most out of the runs I do. I want to want to run, not have to run. I hope you are able to get the drive back and enjoy your last bit of training and have an awesome race!

    • DarlinRae says:

      I totally disagree with “you can’t train for a half with only 3 days running.” I trained for my last half running an average of 3 days per week (sometimes less!), and during this training cycle, I stuck with it because it worked for me. If you are achieving specific things with each run (speed work, recovery miles, distance), I really don’t think you need to run more than three days a week.

      I would say give a half a try and see how it goes. If you hate it, you can always go back to 10ks. Good luck!

  9. Rachel says:

    I can relate to this so much. I was feeling probably exactly the same in terms of burnout with long distances by the middle of the summer. I have enjoyed my break and am itching to get running again, but I still don’t see myself wanting to do long runs for quite a while. Several people I know just qualified for Boston at Chicago last weekend and other friends of mine are running marathons this weekend or in the upcoming month. They inspire me to want to run a marathon, but I don’t see myself doing that for a long time, possibly in a year or more, because right now I just can’t imagine putting in the training for one. I am enjoying leading a more balanced life that doesn’t revolve around getting my daily run in. I have stayed relatively active, but going for walks or on bike rides with friends doesn’t feel like training, it just feels like life. 🙂

    Oh, and in terms of weight… In 2013, I was running the most I ever have (I ran over 1000 miles in 2013), cross training through every injury, lifting pretty obsessively, like 4-5 times a week… and I gained 20 pounds that year. In 2014, I have run a grand total of less than 400 miles, I have been injured more often than not, I haven’t been worrying about cross training, and I stopped lifting in May. I have lost 10-12 pounds and am much happier than I was when I weighed less than this in this first half of 2013. Running a lot is a stressful activity for our bodies, and one stress response is fat storage. I don’t think I have been eating much less lately, but it seems like my body is trying to come to some sort of equilibrium, resetting from injury and enjoying a break from running. 🙂

    • DarlinRae says:

      I’m glad to hear your break has been working for you! I definitely think backing off the distance will be good for me. I feel the best about running doing distances around 3 miles, so I think that’s what I’ll stick to for a while after the half.

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