How to Avoid Lockdown Burn Out

How do you know when you’re approaching a state of being broken and burned out? Irritable? Constantly tired? Low concentration and motivation? There’s no doubt we have all suffered that sensation and typically it will come at a time 2 – 4 weeks out from an ‘A’ race of event when we’ve (hopefully) been guided to a manageable training load and now we’re focusing on refreshing our physical and mental state ahead of race day. 

With the interference of lockdown there’s a risk we just continue along that path of train, train, train. Some of us will have gained more time to train more(!) due to restrictions on movement, adding to our daily, weekly and monthly loading. When you add to the mix the psychological strain of a world pandemic we are seemingly narrowing the rope and raising it higher off the ground. It’s time to re-evaluate our goals, yes, but is also time to assess our longevity as endurance athletes. 

As short-sighted humans we’re obsessed with ‘the next race’ and unhelpfully as coaches we build plans for individuals working backwards from this event. Which also begs the question, what are coaches working backwards from? What are they getting you in ‘peak’ shape for? 

Athletes are losing their mojo quicker than they are running for the turbo. And if not already, how long will the appetite to book swim slots for last? Will the love for the ‘process’ endure another six months?

When will there be any certainty about events? We could speculate all day, but what I do envisage that when events can safely return and we can refocus our goals accordingly and there will be ample time to prepare (I mean, you can buy an 16-week Ironman plan straight off Training Peaks!). I’m encouraging my clients to not get carried away and we are actively discussing ways to avoid training burnout. Here’s some ideas:

  1. Get out of a routine! Yes, I hear you, we love routine and the process of training. Bin it. Get rid of it and mix it up. If Tuesday is a run day, go for a spin on the bike or a walk or follow an online yoga class…
  2. Variety IS the spice of life…there’s no better time to try that hot sweaty pod yoga thingy class (albeit safely at home). We’ve all been dialled into something then developed the genius and missing piece whilst on the toilet, get away from the detail and zone out. It’ll serve you well to be a diversified athlete. 
  3. Experiment with your new-found appetite for variety. What is it that’s missing from your training you’d like to get a better handle on? For me, I’d love to be more consistent with pre-run mobilisation to ensure the quality of my running is the best it can be, and I’m experimenting with power vs HR vs pace vs feel, too. 
  4. Kick triathlon into touch for a bit and delve further into other interests or hobbies. Yes, triathlon is fantastic, but what else do you enjoy? Cooking? Walking? Art? Now IS the time to develop and now is the opportunity to enjoy those things we might need if we can’t fully participate in triathlon due to injury or else. Better still get involved in the community and spread the triathlon love when the time is right. 
  5. Buy some new kit and keep those retailers going during what have been some hard times. Buy in advance if you can, support locally and see your money go a lot further in the current climate. You may also be slightly more motivated to run in a new pair of shiny sneakers!

There’s no doubt races and events will return in some capacity next year and thereafter, make sure you’re refreshed with a strong appetite for when they do!

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