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Avoiding Burn Out

March 9, 2011

Recently I received a tweet from reader Jenni that said: “Are you burnt out on training…training for the GO half and think my plan is too long (16 wks) any tips to get through it?”

My marathon training plan is 18 weeks  (Hal Higdon Novice 2) , but 16 does seem a bit long for a half marathon. For my previous half marathons the training plan was only 10 to 12 weeks. I chose a marathon training plan that was 18 weeks long, and while it seemed like a long time I didn’t even consider getting burnt out. This is my first marathon and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to prepare.

But recently I have found myself saying “I can’t wait until this marathon is over”.

It’s not because I don’t like running. I love running! And I love having a training plan to follow because quite honestly I lose motivation to run any sort of distance when I’m not in training.

What I’m excited for is to not feel obligated to super long runs on the weekend. To not be extremely hungry all the time and see what my normal hunger levels are like again. To not treat my legs like they are walking gold because I’m so scared of a last minute injury. To not be so nervous about whether I’ll finish. I just want to BE a marathoner already!


So in thinking about Jenni’s question about burn out, I did come up with some advice to give her:

  1. When I was forced to take a couple of days off of running last week due to my calf injury, I really started to miss my runs. It was a combination of being nervous about missing training runs and actually really liking my morning treadmill sessions! A few days off really amped me up to run again, so maybe intentionally scheduling a few  off-days into the schedule could do the same for her
  2. Pick a plan with drop back weeks. If I had to run 17, 18, 19, and 20 miles consecutively I think I might start to fret. I get so nervous about finishing those runs and my legs are pretty worn out afterward. Having a shorter distance in between provides me with a week of confidence because I know it’s a run that I have done before.
  3. I make sure to think of my long runs as training, not just a really long run! While I’m out there and starting to drag I think to myself “I have a goal and the goal is 26.2 miles. I need these miles on my legs so that I can accomplish that goal. This isn’t just about today!”
  4. Find GUs you like. I seriously look forward to longer runs because the vanilla and chocolate GUs taste like icing. Is that wrong?
  5. Find a buddy! I don’t have one I can run with often (LB’s schedule is different than mine), but having someone to run with and keep you accountable should help.
  6. See if you really need the full 16 weeks to train for the half marathon. If you can reasonably and safely do it in 10-12 weeks, drop back!


What other tips can you guys give Jenni to help her avoid burn out during her training?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 2:17 pm

    agreed! Its so easy to feel burnt out and overwhelmed. For me, trying to fit my longer runs somewhere in earlier in the week (I know its hard with work) or at least on Saturday vs. Sunday (and not having to dread it the whole weekend) really helped.

  2. March 9, 2011 2:32 pm

    i think the taking time off and just releasing pressure are KEY- thats what bogs me down.. so when I just take the pressure off i enjoy the actual running part of running!

  3. Jenni permalink
    March 9, 2011 2:54 pm

    Woohoo Clare! Thanks for this post, you rock! I do love GU but I can’t find it anywhere–do you but it online or somewhere in STL?

  4. March 9, 2011 3:45 pm

    I was just having a convo with a friend around this last night, I have been burnt out lately and still have another 9 weeks of training to go! I partly blame the weather (its been so cold – all runs have been inside) because mixing up my runs inside and outside help me out a lot. So that should turn aorund soon 🙂 But then there is the issue that I feel like I have to stick to this training schedule and can’t just run when I want and for however long I want…not sure how to shake that yet!
    When is your marathon?
    The one thing keeping me in the game is the thought of the end goal and finishing my first marathon successfully!

  5. March 9, 2011 4:23 pm

    I think that having a reason to run your marathon helps a lot! Are you running for yourself? Maybe for someone else? I think having a reason for running can make all the difference! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last April and I am running to show that now matter what obstacles you are faced with, you can always be better and overcome any challenges that come your way! 🙂 hope this helps!!

  6. March 9, 2011 5:19 pm

    Just getting out there and enjoying yourself is the best part, so try and focus on that. That’s always what I do!

  7. March 9, 2011 6:14 pm

    I love cross training during training- hitting the weights is a really good idea, too 🙂

  8. March 9, 2011 6:14 pm

    These are great tips! Thanks for sharing. They’ll definitely come in handy- I just signed up for my first half-marathon and will be keeping these things in mind!

  9. March 9, 2011 9:44 pm

    I like to have some runs that I dont set any goals for and I dont wear a watch or anything. Just getting outside to run for no reason other than pure enjoyment can make you remember why you love it in the first place. By not having your watch and no set mileage and just running until you want to stop it really frees your mind.

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