Many athletes start strong in the spring, and then train hard all summer and into the fall. But often, runners can run out of energy, both mental and physical, before the end of the long season. By incorporating some key elements into your training routine, you can avoid the fate of end of season burn out.
1. Prioritize events – Create a schedule that has a handful of events that are the most important part of your year. Make these events your priority above all others. Peak for these races, with an appropriate build up phase, taper, and recovery. Make all other events secondary.
2. Don’t race too often – There are so many amazing events that you just want to do them all! Every weekend, you could be out racing. But don’t. You need to have time for training.
3. Make time for fun – Maybe there are a few races that you want to do as a team with your friends or coworkers. Or maybe you want to run a race alongside your kids. Make time for fun events, where you can go slow and not worry about setting a personal best. Don’t look at every event as a competitive event that you have to run all out. That strategy will definitely let you enjoy attending and participating in events, without burning out too early in the season.
4. Plan for problems – Sometimes a cold strikes at the worst time, derailing your plans for a Sunday long run. Or horrible weather hits and you have to run a key tempo run on the treadmill. Maybe work keeps you too late for your weekday group run. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. You need to expect the unexpected and adapt to problems that come up.
5. Take breaks – It may sound crazy to take a few intentional breaks when you’re at your fittest, but within a long season of running, it can be a welcome relief to schedule a few weeks of down time and unstructured training. Especially if you know that you have a vacation planned or a busy week at work, it can give you the mental and physical rest that you need without hurting your level of fitness.
6. Don’t peak too early – If you hit your peak level of fitness too early, it can be difficult to maintain. You may end up worn down or possibly injured trying to stay at your top level of fitness and peak weight for too long. So plan your peak strategically.
7. Be Self Aware – Monitor how you feel and how your body is doing on a constant basis. Know when to back off or slow down and when to push harder. By being aware of your nutrition, sleep, stress levels, and heart rate, you can adjust as you go during the season. Visit a massage therapist or chiropractor if needed to get you back on track when your body starts to break down.