Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heading towards a burnout

I think the title explains it all. So does this post and this post.

I've been hinting for couple of weeks about how tired I've been - lately, my school work has been vamped up, bedtimes are non-existent, and our workout intensity had been greatly increased in preparation for leading into tapering. I've been able to push through my runs, will my bleary-eyed self to work into the wee hours of the morning (okay, more like 11, but that's equivalent to 3am for me), and just overall ignore my tiredness.

This week was caught up to me. I HATE when this happens, because I'm practically a zombie for a week, and it smacks me out of nowhere. I've known what my body was trying to tell me for a while, but partly with my runner's mindset and partly just out of my own personality, I let my what my head was telling me prevail.

After literally the crappiest day/practice I had all week, I decided it was a time for a little research. Granted, I already pretty much knew what was going on, but my stubborn self needed some legit answers before making a decision. Was I actually run-down? Or did I just have a bad week? Should I push through? Is it actual tiredness, or just my mentality? (Based on my decision-making skills, don't take me to Starbucks or Whole Foods.)

I did a little surfing the web for some answers, and after coming across this article I decided that I was heading towards the dreaded runner's burnout.(Not a technical medical term, but an accurate description.)

Here's some red-flags that hit home for me: (source)

1. Decreased performance

This was an early indicator for me. Starting with my last race, I knew that something was up. Practices have...well, they've just sucked. My speed work was always tough, but not that tough. And easy runs have been way too hard for me to get through. Yesterday, we had an easy 4-mile run, during which my legs felt like lead, my calves felt like they were tearing apart, and I was utterly winded. No bueno!!

2. Disinterest in exercise

It happens to the best of us, but when you dread something that you love? For the past 2 weeks, all I've wanted is to go home and sleep forever. At practice, I just did not. want. to. run. You all know how much I adore running, and how excited and amazing it makes me feel, but lately, I have wanted nothing to do with it.

3. Delayed recovery time

My calf/thigh exhaustion has been lasting for over a week, which apparently is a problem. Who knew.

4. Fatigue

Again, one of the more obvious signs. At school, I felt like a zombie. I've been falling asleep in classes. I've had a serious lack of motivation to do schoolwork simply because I've been too groggy to focus. Obviously, running on low energy sucks.

5. Diminished appetite

Except the exact opposite - I have been a bottomless pit. My body obviously needs more energy, because it's been begging for more for the past few days!

6. Moodiness

I really think this is a result of the combination of everything. Lack of sleep, mental (school) stress, physical stress, all make me moody. I almost cried during a really hard workout on Monday. Yes, cried. For no reason other than I was tired and didn't want to run. Case in point?

(After reading this, I don't want you all to get all worried about me - recovering from a burnout is 100% possible, and I don't have any medical complications as a result to worry about.)

Like most athletes, taking rest days are less than ideal. I know so many girls on my team who would keep on running, even after a doctor's orders. Even though my body was blaring signals at me, resting, or even just admitting how crap-tastic I felt, made me feel weak. It hurt my pride. I came up with excuses such as, "We're already tapering, so I don't need to rest," or, "It's not like I'm training for a marathon!" Taking a rest day made me feel like I had failed at being a good runner.

Obviously, I had to swallow my pride and realize that this is utter nonsense. Our bodies are so intelligent, much more intelligent than our emotions and thoughts. I know what my body needs more than anyone. So here's my game plan for the weekend:

1. Take the entire weekend off from running. No exceptions. NO running.

2. Ice my thighs/knee/calves.

3. Hydrate.

4. Eat more protein.

5. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

6. Enjoy relaxing.

Hopefully by Monday, I'll be back to my energy-filled, run-loving self! :)

Have a woooonnnddeerrrfffuuulll weekend!! 

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