How to avoid burnout before a big race
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Running season is upon us and, with over 400 events being held nationally, odds are that if you are not participating, you know a few people who are.
As an avid runner and someone who coaches runners, I find that there tend to be three types of participants. Those who seek the help of a coach to help them prepare, those who just show up and ‘wing it’ on the day and those who over-train and show up to race day tired and/or injured.
Signing up to an event is a great way to keep you motivated to stay active and on track with your fitness as it gives you something to train for, but beware of going in ‘guns blazing’ may be detrimental to your performance come race day.
Here are my top tips for avoiding burnout.
Don’t train too much
This seems obvious, but being overly enthusiastic can kill you performance come race day.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Don’t train everyday. In fact, have at least one to two rest days and/or active recovery days per week. I can’t think of anyone – not even professional athletes – who should be training seven days a week
- Just because you are running 21 or 42kms on race day does not mean that you should be running that distance in training. Start small and, ideally over a three month period, build up your kilometres. Work with a coach who can help you gradually progress your program in a way that suits your individual needs. Note that you should also being doing running specific strength training to ensure your muscles, fascia etc. are strong enough to last the distance. If your muscles and joints are prepared and you have worked on any imbalances then you are in a better position to avoid injury
- Taper off in the week leading to the event. You shouldn’t be training too hard in the days before the event as you will just end up sore and tired.
What you take from your body, you need to give back to your body and this is in the form of nutrition, sleep, stretching, massage.
I personally love to book in recovery sessions around light swimming, yoga and stretching. In the lead up to an event I also like to get massages (although avoid getting them the week of the event in case it leaves you sore).
Make sure you book in a day or two for recovery and relaxation every week.
Epson salt baths
Floating or floatation is a therapy in which you float in a tank that is filled with a dense Epson salt-water solution. It is a highly effective way of relaxing and relieving stress and, I for one, am obsessed with it.
Benefits may include increased energy, a boost to the immune system, a reduction in lactic acid levels and facilitated rest. Furthermore, Epson salts are a magnesium and sulfate which act as a muscle relaxant and protein builder for your joints, so while you are decompressing, your body is also absorbing the minerals directly into your muscles whilst you float.
Nutrition and hydration
The fastest way to a burn out is by not nourishing and rehydrating your body correctly. Think of food as fuel (because that is exactly what it is). If you have no fuel in the tank, how can you expect your body to perform?
Make sure you keeping hydrated in the week leading up to the event so you don’t feel dehydrated on race day. Also make sure you hydrate during and after every training session.
Load up on antioxidant-rich foods (simply fruit and vegetables) and make sure you are eating good fats, proteins and carbs.
You may want to seek out a qualified dietitian or nutritionist to help you with a meal plan, especially if you are burning a lot more energy than you are used to with your training.
Last but not least, don’t change your diet too close to race day. If you want to make tweaks, do it weeks in advance so you know how your body responds.
That’s right, meditation is great for runners as it can help a runner focus on their goals and on the task ahead. Furthermore, the more you meditate, the stronger your mind gets and the more it can help you bring out your inner strength when times get tough, both in life and during the run.
Meditation can help up connect to a stronger part of ourselves, giving you’re the power and confidence to work through obstacles.
I highly suggest trying meditation out (if you don’t already) in the lead up to race day. May as well see where it can take you!
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