Burn Baby, Burn. And Then Drink a Milkshake. (Or, how to recover from runner burnout)

by Carilyn on September 7, 2013

I have no excuse for my absence. Well, actually, I have plenty of excuses but none that you want to hear or that are particularly interesting. Basically, I was burnt out, tired of commuting between Texas and California, tired of racing, tired of blogging. So, I pretended like I lived on a deserted island with no internet (but one that did have many fantastic restaurants specializing in short ribs and 8-layer cake) and took the summer off. I just didn’t feel like talking about running, reading about running, or even thinking about running. Know what I mean?

Anyway, if you ever find yourself burnt out, here is my advice:

1. Do ANYTHING physical that does not involve running. Us runaholics need to stay active to keep from stabbing the person who wants to try ALL 31 flavors before she is able to make a decision, so I’m telling you: Don’t sit on your couch and REST. Keep moving. Just don’t let it involve any running. (Tennis is the exception because chasing around a small, fuzzy green ball in a cute white skirt makes you forget that you are, in fact, running.)

2. Learn all the cuss words of a foreign language. Merde! Cabron! Maledetto! Really, now is your chance to become more cosmopolitan. Plus, you will need your new vocabulary to help with the road rage you will likely be experiencing at the start of your “vacation” from running.

3. Binge watch all those television shows the norms (that’s short for “normal people” in case you’ve been out on a trail for awhile) are always gabbing about. Haven’t seen Downton Abby? Now’s your chance. Don’t understand all the fuss about Arrested Development? (I still don’t, but maybe you are smarter than I am.) Watch every episode in one weekend and finally feel comfortable discussing how much you love Jason Bateman and how you totally understand the show’s cult classic status and hot dogs.

4. Watch documentaries about other people who are obsessed with things. Birding. Harp playing. Scrabble. Crossword Puzzles. Philately. You might just get a little excited watching other people work to be the best Clogger on the planet and feel a renewed sense of excitement towards your chosen obsession of running. And if not, you will at least think, “Dang! They’re weirder than I am.”

5.Β Don’t eat anything you would consume during a run or a race. This obviously means no gels, granola bars, sports drink. But it also means no M&Ms, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, or PayDays (Rob). Seriously. Don’t let yourself go there. Not only do you need a break from running, you need a break from anything remotely related to running. And that includes snacks. Trust me on this one.

6. In the same vein, do not wear your running shoes for any reason, and better yet, donate them to a local running store that recycles them for underprivileged kids (unless your new found physical activity of choice requires them. But, if I were you, I’d pick a sport like synchronized swimming, platform diving, or tap dancing that doesn’t involve running shoes, just to be safe). You need to rid yourself of the constant reminder of running. Like a bad break-up where you burn all your Ex’s photos and give the sparkly trinkets he gave you to the cross-dressing guy you pass on your way to work every day, the same goes for your running shoes. And it is win-win for everyone. Except maybe your Ex.

7. Don’t sign up for any races, even one that is 6 months from now and you are worried the race will sell out. There are a million races out there. And if you sign up for a race, even if it is a long way off, you will not enjoy your time off because you will constantly feel guilty for not training. We are a crazy-obsessive group of people, my friends. You know it. I know it. Our near and dear know it. Stay off Ultrasignup.

8. Stay off the Ultralist, Runner’s World Forums, or any other running site that you like to stalk read. Now is not the time to keep up with the latest running gossip, race reports, or smack talk that abounds. You need the soothing sounds of the New Jersey Housewives threatening to “stab the bitch” during your running recovery, not endless chatter about race nutrition, the joy of racing, or how cool Tony Krupicka looks without his shirt.

9. Back off your coffee consumption. When you are actively training, you can probably get away with 3 Venti coffees a day without going all Alec Baldwin on the unwitting solicitor who calls you for the sixth time at 8:00 at night. But, now that you are “resting” you need to remember your caffeine tolerance has probably dropped off precipitously and you are to be considered a potential danger to yourself and others if you are seen entering a Starbucks. Try decaf. Or better yet, stay home and drink milkshakes.

10. Enjoy your “burnout” break. Make yourself miss the running, miss the other runners, and miss the racing. If you spend all your rest time obsessing about running, you will probably never get over being burnt out. Besides, we all need a time in our running careers when training only involves bad food, bad television and bad behavior (and I just mean sleeping late, you dirty minded readers!).

Happy Not Running!



olga September 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Welcome back!
When burnt out, I sign off any email lists, unfriend most active Facebook running friends and do more knitting. TV is enough already, and no way I am watching any shows! More of Forensic Science or 48 hrs type of things…

Kim September 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Hi, Stranger!!!
I hope that your running vacation has left you feeling renewed!!! I don’t even know how you do what you do!!!
Love all the tips for recovering from burnout.
Kim recently posted…Short & SimpleMy Profile

Marcia September 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Yay! Here you are! I’ve been thinking of you.

Kate September 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Glad to hear from you! I was wondering how you were…not enough to actually ASK or anything, but don’t feel bad because I’m the same way with my real-world friends and family too most of the time. Maybe the trick would be to take a hiatus from my real life, but I haven’t figured out how to get away with that for a summer.

I LOVE Arrested Development, though I’m not so much loving the new episodes. Sigh. And after being so excited about them.
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Ashley Ringo Walsh September 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Man I relate to you so much. So glad I read this! You’re awesome. I used a twitter app this summer that unfollowed everyone on my following list. I think I missed you in the refollow. Glad you’re back!

Sarah September 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

Missed you! Glad you’re back.
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Rob September 10, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I was with you until item # 5 although… temporary switch to Babe Ruth bars might work in a pinch. Welcome back!

evilcyber September 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

I hope you also learned some German curses! I dare to say we have pretty neat and saucy ones πŸ™‚
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Char September 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

You’re back! I’ve missed you and your sense of humour.
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Jeff Dinkin September 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Ahhh, glad you are back! Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed your “burnout vacation!” Great advice. I just hope your long absence is not as long next time. πŸ˜‰

Kirstin C (@ultrarunnergirl) September 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

Missed you!!

I think summer is a GREAT time to take a running break. There is so much to do that is better in the hot weather. For instance biking, kayaking, swimming, picnics, going to outdoor night movies — not so fun in the winter. You can run all year round unless there’s ice.
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