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Prepping for the Chimera Hundo: Hello, Burnout

Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 | 4 Comments

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?



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  1. chris
    November 16, 2012

    30 day challenge is a new concept to me but ive seen it a number of times over the last month. Seems to be trending so to speak.

    Jason, going of subject a little, but i would like a post on this by yourself to generate some discussion! – I have a question for you. Something ive often thought about when it comes to barefoot running and minimilist running.

    Some of the evidence used by people to back up the idea that we evolved to run without training shoes tends to focus on the fact that our ancestors never had shoes so its natural that we run without them.

    IVe often thought this however, our ancestors were probably lucky to make it past 30. If lack of food or disease didnt get you, you’d be liable to be clubbed to death by a neighbour high on some sort of primitive mushroom juice.

    BEcasue of this small live expectancy, they would never have got to an age were they would suffer from arthritis. Even if they did, it would be hard for us to tell.

    I guess what im getting at is, how do we know that in 20 or 30 years time, us cheer leaders of the minimilst movement, of which im one incidentally, wont be all hobbling around on zimmer frames.

    I cant help but feel battering my feet against the ground for countless miles is bound to have some sort of negative affect when im old and senile.

    What would your views be on this? Slainte!

  2. Ben W
    November 15, 2012

    I have a small….no I guess it’s large, collection of hobbies that I rotate on a fartlek basis. : )

    And I usually end up adding a new one each summer.

    I burned out of teaching after five years. After mentally checking out for about a year, I got back into it and have been going strong ever since.

    Echoing an earlier post of yours, I think that any occupation/hobby stays interesting as long as there is still something to learn.

    Enjoy your run and then your rest. Beer helps as you well know.

  3. barefoot tyler
    November 15, 2012

    I suppose I have experienced burnout before. I tend to not run consistently, with my only main consistency being a long run on Saturdays.

    Take a step back mentally and physically. Maybe even stop writing about running. Get involved in a new project or work on another project.

    I tend to have a lot of hobbies, so I have mini-burnouts from each, which is fine because I switch to another.

    Find something you are passionate about or do a challenge for a few days/week/month. “I will not drink beer for 30 days” was mine last month. It changed me and kept my mind off other things.

    • Jason
      November 15, 2012

      I totally get that. Back when I was teaching, I’d spend summers doing something completely different. One summer I worked at a baseball stadium, I learned magic another, then did some survivalist stuff.

      I think our last 18 months or so of constant travel and engagement with running has contributed to the feelings of burnout. Luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the early symptoms so I can just back off a bit without completely abandoning it.

      And I’m glad someone else does the “30 day challenge” stuff. 🙂