I am a burnout researcher. My December 2015 dissertation focused on burnout in the workplace. I have discovered, burnout is not just an on-the-job-thing! When training for a 100 mile race, it’s important to log a whole of miles, and more miles, and mountains of miles!
I am in the middle of a burnout period with running right now. It’s a sad sick cycle. One which I know to how to break but I as I sit here writing this on a grey gloomy misty day, I just don’t want to!
I have been running strong the last few months. Well, all year, really. Right now, I have not run in more than a week. I have continued to eat as if I am running strong which means I am not feeling so great and I have packed on a few pounds.
To break this cycle, I simply need to get back out there. Simple. Slow. Fun. After two or three of these recovery runs, I’ll be back in the swing of things.
I don’t have the motivation.
I have a big race on Saturday – a 46 miler. I tell myself it’s good that I rest. I feel icky on the inside.
I need to go for a run.
This cycle is real and happens whenever anyone gives perhaps too much of themselves to work or a hobby. The key is stepping back to find the joy again. Much easier said than done.
The lesson here, you are not alone. Your cycle of burnout is normal.
“I’m just a big hairy American winning machine, you know?” – Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights
When I was in my mid-twenties I owned a motorcycle (Wow, that sentence makes me sound old). One of the more enjoyable, and stupid, things to do on a motorcycle is to drive fast at night. The small cone of light put off by the headlight and the road rushing by underneath, makes you feel like you are flying.
I have since gotten too old, and “burdened” with too many responsibilities to ride a motorcycle. My newer, much safer way of satiating my need for speed is with sprints. As long distance runners, especially ultrarunners, we focus on going long and slow. This strategy can get a bit boring and your muscles adapt and get used to the stress. Running intervals allows me to engage different muscles and train in a different manner. These intervals also bring about new soreness. After running 10 intervals of about 200 meters each, my quads are screaming. I end up spending the next few days walking pretty slow, limping, and enjoying the feeling of going fast for just a few moments.
We are in the beginning phases of training for our first 100 mile race. We tried this a few years ago but with northern winters, a 2 year old, and doctoral classes, it was too much. This time around, we have already registered for the race, we live in Florida, the 2 year old is now 5, and one of us is finished with school. Our plan should work this time around!
In the last few weeks, we have run the majority of a 12 hour and a 6 hour race. During these races, we have learned many things about better preparing ourselves for longer distances. One of those lessons is that of a larger toe box! Why, because your toenails die!
First, the ends of your toes feel sore.
Then, your toenails turn red. Then black, then white.
Then you pop that stuff and watch the goo flood out from under your toenails. Apparently this smells awful…according to my husband.
Then you wait for everything to dry up.
You cut off the toenail so it doesn’t snag on sock.
Three weeks later, you see you have a new toenail and cycle repeats!
It’s all part of the price you pay to be able to be among the few that call themselves ultra-runners!
I’m not alone in this. There is a woman who had her toenails removed because she was tired of this process. Check out her story…if the have the stomach for graphic pictures and video!
My wife, Anne, and I completed our first Florida summer ultra, River to Sea, and we learned plenty. While this was not our first ultra, it was our first ultra attempt in Florida. First things first, Florida in July is HOT! The day started at 77℉ and peaked at 91℉. At the 7AM start I already had sweat running down my back and by 10AM my shirt and shorts were soaked. Needless to say, keeping up with proper hydration was a problem. I did my best to keep up with fluid intake but I was still feeling the results of dehydration. When this happens, my fingers begin to swell.
(Exaggeration…If only I looked like Chris Pine)
At the beginning of races I try to remember to take off my wedding ring as it becomes uncomfortable. Urban legend would have you believe that your finger will be cut off if your titanium ring gets stuck but Snopes has proven that wrong. Maybe someday I will get trendy with a Qalo but I have like my “old” ring. After 4 hours of running the swelling was really beginning to bother me and drinking plain water wasn’t doing the trick. The great thing about ultrarunners is that they are always willing to lend support and that was when a fellow ultrarunner offered me Tailwind. Tailwind is a powder that is mixed into a water bottle. There are a variety of flavors, even unflavored. On my first sip I was surprised by the salty taste. This caught me off guard but subsequent sips were not so startling. I am pleased to announce that the swelling subsided after 30 minutes and did not return as I kept up with my fluid intake.
Written by Adam Stark, ultrarunner, student, father, husband, cyber security researcher…aka…the smartest man alive!
For me on the other hand, health and wellness has not been very good this week. I woke up Sunday at 3AM with a raging headache and sore throat. I spent the rest of the day coughing and struggling to stay awake. By bedtime Sunday night, at 8:30PM, the cough was in full force. Night 2 with little to no sleep. I managed to make it to work but I only lasted until Noon. By bedtime Monday night, a little bit closer to 9PM, the cough had subsided a little and I was finally able to get some sleep. I spent Tuesday home from work resting and recovering from the cold. Wednesday morning got off to a normal start and at 7AM as we were walking out the door I stopped to put something in the trash. I felt a slight twinge in my lower back but I didn’t think anything of it. By 9AM I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and having difficulty walking. At 11AM I called my wife and begged her to come get me as I was unable to stand or walk. I managed to shuffle in a bent over position, down three flights of stairs and roll into the car. After a trip to urgent care, an injection of painkillers and muscle relaxer pills, I am now able to stand at almost a 45 degree angle. I am now confined to the couch waiting for another round of drugs to work their magic. I’m too old for this “stuff”.
Food…a simple idea but yet our world has made a big deal about it. As runners we spend time planning our routes, our gear, our hydration and even our recovery. Unfortunately the simple food that fuels our runs can be forgotten. Search Amazon for runners’ cookbooks and you will be presented with plenty of options. This is before you even get into the many arguments of what to eat and not eat; paleo, vegan, fruitarianism. I want to take the next few sentences to lay out a simple plan of when to eat. Between family, work and school we lead busy lives in our house. Due to growing up with low blood sugar, remembering to eat is not a big deal for me. If I don’t eat I get grumpy and then get sick (ie vomiting). My wife, and co-author, on the other hand forgets to eat during her day. An optimal eating plan that works for me throughout my day:
6:45AM – Breakfast
9:00AM – Snack, usually fruit
11:30AM – Lunch
2:00PM – Snack, usually peanuts or cashews
5:30PM – Dinner
8:00PM – Late snack, if hungry
I try not to let myself ever get that “hungry” feeling. Getting to the point of extreme hunger and then gorging never works for me. I end up scarfing something bad for me usually as fast as I can and then regretting it soon after.
Does anyone else plan how they will “fuel-up” during the day?
My husband has been wanting to run the Keys 100 for several years. We have always been able to identify several reasons why it wouldn’t work this year or why we should wait until next year or until the boy is older or until…
This past year has presented us with multiple opportunities to learn the lesson that life is too short to put off your dreams until…
This past weekend we decided we would train for our first 100 mile race, the Keys 100.
It is important for runners to keep logs. Logs help us maintain confidence, identify trends, push through hard times and celebrate great accomplishes! My log as we train for the Keys 100 will be this blog! I plan to reflect weekly on the experience of training for my first 100 mile with my partner in crime, my best friend, my running hero!
Let the accumulation of miles and moments of enlightenment begin!