Monday, December 23, 2013

The Week of December 16-22

Swim: 18,100 yards (10.3 miles)/ 5:20
Bike: 226 minutes/ 3:36
Run: 33.87 miles / 3:49
Total: 12:45

Training was rough last week. Well, running and swimming were great, but I struggled on the bike. Of the 4 rides, 2 were good and 2 were not so good. The first “not good” ride was after a long day of shopping with my grandparents—I was definitely under fueled, and really not in it. I ended up stopping the workout early. The next ride my Powertap batteries died almost an hour into the ride and I was fed up at this point. I know you cannot make up missed workouts, and it really isn’t good to miss a workout, but I just let it go. For the longest time, it would stress me out if I missed a workout and I would think of this big scenario of how my whole next 2 weeks were ruined. Now, (I very rarely miss/quit a workout) I can just let it go. I cannot change the past, but I can focus on having a good next workout.

The rest of this post is going to mostly track and field related.

I got a message from somebody this week telling me he is “burnt out.”  I tried telling my college coach that I was burnt out an a few different occasions. He used to tell me that, “being burnt out just means you need to change the color of your lenses.” My “burn outs” never came in the off season—I loved training—rather they came mid-season. The next step was usually to put me in an open 400m or a 4x400m relay and then I was magically fine.

To address this off season burnout, I have put together my thoughts.

*First, think about what has caused you to feel burnt out? Running cross country, indoor track and outdoor track makes for a long year, but a lot of college athletes do it. Was cross country stressful? Do you feel there is a lot of pressure on you for track?

*Don’t stress over a missed run. Most of us have been running for a LONG time. A missed run will not make or break the season. As a track athlete, there are a few key times you have to be ready during the year—usually late February/early March and the month of May. A missed easy run here or there in December will not hurt you, IF it does not become a regular thing. I can honestly say that in all of my years of running track, I do not remember one training run that “made” my season, or a missed run that messed up my season.

*Run without a watch. So many times we get caught up in running a certain pace, or finishing a loop in a certain time. If your body feels like running fast, then run fast. If you feel like running slow, then do it. Your body knows what it wants, listen to it.

*Run with music…or maybe don’t run with music. I do most of my running with music and I absolutely love it. If I ever feel the need to change it up, I go to the local park and run on the trails without music. Sometimes all you need is a good, distraction-free run to get back on track. Other times, you may need the music to distract you from the fact you’re running.

*Run with somebody you don’t normally run with. When running for a team, you usually run with the same people every day, every week. Now that you’re home on break, switch it up. Call up an old teammate (or even somebody new) and ask them to run. It doesn’t matter if they are faster or slower, just run. I enjoy training alone, but I will never tell somebody no, if they want to join me on a workout.

*Just do something. Running may not sound super fun, but if you can convince yourself to get out the door for a couple miles, you may do more. Or, ride a bike…or swim…or do yoga. Something.

*Sit down with a good cup of coffee and remind yourself why you run. Most of us are not getting paid to do this, so ask yourself, “Why do I run?” It is okay to question that at times. I think you’ll remember that you are doing it, because it is something you love.
It was fun "back in the day" and it should still be fun now :)

*Lastly, you’re home on break right now. Sit back, relax, and enjoy time with your family. There is so much hustle and bustle all year long…now is the time to just enjoy whatever happens.

What would your advice be to somebody feeling burnt out before the track season started?

Have a great holiday everybody, and stay safe while training! Thanks for reading.


  1. Cory you bring up some excellent ideas. No watch, don't fret over a skipped run, music, woods and sitting down and thinking.

    After I graduated college and had a somewhat successful career, I was tired. Tired of running 60-80 miles a week - 110 at my highest (at the time thats what I wanted). I ran the 4:20 mile, conference champion, ran Boston, completed the Ironman Wisconsin - what should I go for now? Completely lost the structure of go to class, lunch, class, practice, dinner, study, bed. I was so focused on winning, running faster, being a bad*** that I lost sight of the true reason why I loved running. Nonetheless, I stopped running/exercising for three years.

    Additonally I was a collegiate coach. I saw this in nearly every one of my student-athletes and had some severe with the best of atheltes. Burn out is inevitable for any athlete - especially in college.

    About a year ago, I found that spark again. I made myself vulnerable again and it was on my own terms. I didn't concentrate on hitting times, I didn't concentrate on hitting milleage, lifting, core. I did what I wanted when I wanted. I finally listened to my body instead of a coach (although I was very fortunate to have a bad ass coach). I ran with music - something I said I would never do. I signed up for races to give myself motivation, I watched countless youtube videos and found that one song to pump me up.

  2. continuation...

    The point is, truly be honest to yourself of why you are bunrt out. What is stemming from it? Is it the fact that cross is over which entails June, July, August, Septbember, October and November worth of training? Add that with new freshman, new teammates, new goals, let downs? You come home and you just want that mental break? Or is it that you had a let down from cross and now you are dreading indoor track?

    Maybe it is your senior year and you just ran the last cross country race of your life? Depression is a serious let down - there is no turning back and only moving forward - the realization that the great life is coming to an end? If so, capture it. Buy a camera and video tape, take picture, write a blog. Something I wish I did. Cherish the moment, dont't let the depression drown out the great times you could be having. Time will never stop and with that, make your last year so memerable that you smile at the memories instead of wishing you did something different.

    Now it is the off season, enjoy the time off. If you are doing Indoor and Outdoor Track - your body needs it. Use the 2-3 weeks of bad decisions (food, drink, stay up late).

    Run 20 minutes instead of the 40, then build it up. Maybe get the friends together and cross country ski, sled (great hill workout!), or heck just walk. Coaches are always going to make workouts for the winter (I was one of them!) because that is what coaches are suppose to do. Coaches want to make you feel as prepared as possible come the first day of practice and the first meet. However, we can lead you to water but not drink it.

    What keeps me going, is I look at the old guys out there struggling to run. I see the obese people trying to just lift one foot over the other. The atheltes bound to wheelchairs and thinking to myself "wow, I want to have their courage, motivation, and toughness", so I go out and run/bike/swim.

    Whatever battle that is brewing, it is temporary. There is someone out there is that is battling with being burnt out and just trying to get out the door. And honestly, that is all it takes. Getting out the door. Maybe you don't run, maybe you do, but it is better than sitting on the couch depressed wondering why you can just put one foot in front of the other.

    So after the long winded rambling, what helped me? Though I had mentioned a few earlier I'll bullet point it:
    - No structured plan, I did what I wanted
    - Ran with music
    - Spin classes
    - Surrounded myself with people who pushed me to get out the door
    - Wife that told me to get out the door
    - Raced distances I wanted
    - I wanted to see how far I could push my body
    - Weight loss
    - Want to win a road race while pushing my son in a stroller (have little time do to this now)

    Hope this helps!

    1. Awesome advice, Chad. Thanks for the lengthy response! I think there is a lot of great information to take away from that. And as we know, "this too shall pass."