A lot of runners working their way up to marathon-level fitness are concerned about common problems like fatigue, injury, and boredom, all of which are possible and even probable if you don't find ways to combat them. There's also a high potential for burnout. When you're pounding the pavement for hours each and every day in preparation for those 26-plus miles on race day, months down the road, burnout is a distinct possibility.
Figuring out how to avoid burnout before it occurs is no easy feat. Several factors may play a role in your ultimate inability or unwillingness to continue toward your goal. How can you balance pushing yourself during training with a tendency to overdo it and end up burning out? Here are a few strategies to incorporate.
After a couple of months, a running schedule can start to feel pretty restrictive. When you have to run certain days, at certain times of day, and your routes and distances are planned to the mile, it can take some of the fun out of this physical pursuit.
You might be tempted to push yourself beyond your training schedule, adding miles and days to increase the challenge. However, this could turn out to be a big mistake. If you're getting bored or chafing at the bit, there are better ways to get your head back in the game.
You might want to add some interval training to your runs, or add cross-training to your schedule. You could also get a running buddy. Your schedule can be adjusted, but if you want to avoid injury and enjoy steady progress toward your goal of running a marathon, your schedule is an important tool. Don't forget to add rest days so your body has time to recover.
When your body warms up and you settle into a rhythm, you might start feeling like you're not working hard enough. You may want to push it and really see what your body can do. The thing is, if you've planned out your training correctly, pushing yourself can lead to aches, pains, and even injuries that end up slowing you down in the long run.
When you overdo it, you could find yourself dealing with fatigue, soreness, and stiffness that drain away your willpower and make you wonder why you're even training for a race. Pacing is an essential part of increasing strength and stamina, and while you can push yourself a little here and there, too much can definitely derail your long-term goals.
Runners are often concerned about maintaining or even losing weight when training for a marathon. Less weight to carry means greater speed, right? In truth, you have to balance this with maintaining muscle mass and energy levels if you want to remain competitive, and this can mean walking a fine line with your diet.
As your training progresses, it's only natural that you'll need to add calories to your daily intake in order to maintain health. You can do this in a healthy way to maintain weight and muscle mass prior to running a marathon.
First and foremost, you need to replace the calories you're burning if you want to keep your energy high. In addition, you should make sure you're consuming foods that aid in muscle recovery, including adequate protein and healthy fats, among other things. Hydration is also important.
There is no perfect diet - every runner has different needs depending on their body and exercise regimen. What works great for one runner may fall flat for another. However, trial and error will help you to dial in a suitable diet, and working with a nutritionist can help.
Wait a minute - this is supposed to be fun? If you find that training for a marathon has turned running into a chore, it's only a matter of time before you burn out. It's time to inject some fun into your runs, whether you try a new course, join a running club, or use a mobile app like Zombies, Run! to add some excitement to your average daily run. When you're having fun and staying mentally engaged while training for a marathon, there's less risk of burnout along the way.