August is here, and summer is going a little too quickly for my liking! I have about 13 weeks to go until the Indy Monumental marathon. A few weeks ago I was not in a good place with my running - feeling a little burned out, much more tired than normal, basically not enthused about running. Around that same time my left hip flexor started feeling off - not painful, just off. A little tight, could feel a clicking sensation, just an overall painless awareness of the area. Given that I have endured two pelvic stress fractures on that side, I panicked, but thankfully the issue is still nothing more than feeling a little odd. The last two weeks I have lowered my mileage and eliminated speed sessions just to be safe. I do not notice anything during my easy runs but am leery of picking up the pace just yet. I will see my doctor next week just to be sure things are alright and am continuing to base build for Indy until I get an official all clear. I am also seeing my fantastic cupping specialist tomorrow (that is the topic of my next post, so check back soon!).
Back to burnout. I think this is something every runner encounters at some point. Around this time last year I felt the same way (maybe the heat and humidity taking its toll?) and instead of honoring what I was feeling, I pushed through and stuck to my training plan. The result? I toed the line in Indy feeling overcooked. From the first mile my legs felt dead and it never got any better. It was really disappointing. I'll never make that mistake again.
At the first sign of those same feelings, I started to think about what I could do differently and not have a repeat performance of last year. First, I focused on increasing my sleep and hydration. Second, I started to pay close attention to my heart rate during my easy runs. I am a big fan of heart rate based training. It's so easy to tell yourself a certain pace feels "easy", but your heart rate will call you out if you're running too hard. Racing your training runs is one of the most common errors made in training. I made a commitment to stay in Zone 3, my aerobic zone, during my easy runs, no matter what my pace was. And believe me, sometimes I don't like the numbers I see on my watch! I remind myself if it's just a number and refocus on my goal I went back in my training log to last summer, when I was feeling burned out, and sure enough, my heart rate on my easy runs was WAY too high. So yes, my runs this summer are going to be slower than last year but they are having the appropriate training effect on my aerobic system, and I will recover faster. I already feel much better than I did two weeks ago. Here is an excellent article by Sarah Crouch on the subject of burnout.
So what's next? Making sure my hip is healthy, and adding some intensity back into my miles. Thankfully November is still quite a ways off and I have plenty of time to add some speed to my nice base of miles!