The Chimera 100 starts in two days. It will be one of the hardest races I’ve ever attempted. I have done absolutely nothing to prepare.
While I sometimes have a tendency to self-sabotage, my complete lack of preparation for Chimera can be better explained by burnout. It’s been a long racing season. I’ve run 2 50ks, a 50 miler, finished two hundos, ran 60 miles of another, and ran a 120 mile stage race.
I’m looking forward to the actual run as I’ll get to run all day in the mountains, hang out with my friends Jon, Vanessa, Shacky, Victoria, Carlos, and a few others. Hopefully Shelly will get to pace me a little. Still, I’m not really excited about the race.
One of my strengths as a runner has been my ability to know when I’m doing too much and back off. This is a perfect case. Chimera was probably one race too many this season. I’ll power through it, but will probably avoid racing for a few months.
What are the Symptoms of Burnout?
For me, the symptoms begin with a subtle shift in motivation. I begin to lose the intrinsic joy of racing. I start having more apathetic feelings that seep into other areas of my life. I get a strange sense of restlessness, which is probably the result of losing the stress-relieving aspects of running. I start feeling somewhat detached from the racing and running scene.
If I were to continue and ignore these symptoms, injuries would be likely. The psychological and emotional symptoms become more pronounced. Eventually it would get to the point where I couldn’t will myself to run even in training.
What is the Solution?
The solution for me has always been simple- back off. Spending time away from racing has a powerful rejuvenatory effect. a few months of not racing and limiting training to crosstraining workouts and social runs will always result in a return of that “running magic.”
During this time, I’ll usually pick up another hobby or other pass time. Many times I’ll experiment with something tangentially-related to running. When I start racing again, I can use my experiences to make me a well-rounded runner.
I’ll still be running Chimera. After all, I’ve been growing this silly handlebar mustache since the beginning of August just for this race. After this weekend, I have a brief trip to Chile for some clinics, runs, and Crossfit workouts. After that, I’ll be focusing on the BRUcrew group workouts and maybe toy around with a new hobby. I’ll probably get back into racing around February or march with the goal of being prepared for hundos by April.
What do you think? How many of you experience burnout? What have you done to overcome the symptoms?