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.
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.
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.
While 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?