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skatey-mark's picture

The last couple of seasons, I've noticed that around September, my motivation to train really goes downhill.  Last season in particular, it was a struggle to stick to a training schedule until my last race, which was Le Defi in October.  Part of that could be attributed to getting injured in the NYC 100k and not training for a couple weeks after that.  (Any time I get sidelined, it's hard to get back into the routine.)  Part could have been due to some relationship issues that had me a little down.  But I think mainly that it was just a really long season -- and it's hard to stay focused for that long.  Basically, I started training seriously as soon as Daylight Saving Time started in the spring.  From that point on, I had a pretty specific schedule of what days I trained, and how long & intensely I skated on those days.  In particular, I think knowing that every Weekend I would be getting up early to skate took a mental toll.

I know in November & December we had some uncharacteristcally warm days, some of which were even on the weekend.  While others were excited to get out on the road and enjoy the weather, I found myself making excuses not to go.  It was obvious that mentally I was just sick of skating and wasn't able to have FUN skating.  Eventually, I got over it a little bit and was able to get outside a couple times in January.  I made a promise to myself, though, that I would do absolutely no "training" over the winter.  Any roadskating I did would be at a social pace, to maximize the "fun" aspect of it.  That worked to a degree, although it still seemed like I was going through the motions a bit.

Last weekend was the Great EsSkate, down in Miami Beach.  3 days of nothing but social skating...  (See my trip report for more information about that.)  Friday & Saturday were certainly fun, but I could still feel the burnout a little in the back of my head.  All that changed on Sunday.  Something switched in my head, and the Sunday morning skate was perhaps the most fun I've had on skates in at least a year.  In fact, I was so caught up in the fun and socializing that one time I didn't realize I had been slowly drifting towards the rear of the pack -- and then Bones' familiar voice told me to "move it"!  LOL...  The rest of the day went much the same way...  So I am definitely in vacation mode.  I'm don't think the burnout is behind me yet, but at least I know I can still have some fun skating.

So now, as the new season gets closer, I'm trying to think of ways to keep from burning out again.  I think having a less strict training regimen might help.  I certainly need to figure out how to "train smarter, not harder"...  Every workout isn't going to be fun & games, but I am also going to be minimizing things that are unpleasant.  I think I'll also start out the season with "lighter" training.  Maybe some LSD training, certainly no interval workouts or anything like that.  Maximize the fun...

So...  has anyone else had to deal with burnout before?  What things did you do to recover, and to try to prevent it in the future?  Is it even possible to prevent it, or is it just something that athletes have to deal with as the end of the season approaches?

- SM -


kjg's picture

Long season, learning from Marathon training

I definitely agree that it is a long season, and especially difficult to sustain enthusiasm and training through to A2A as the evenings get shorter and weather gets more suspect.

My training for the last two years have been pretty much long skate followed by longer skate, repeat 4/5 times per week.

What I have learned from current running training is the value of specific workouts one speed, one long, one interval (speed/hills) and then three days of cross training (specifically 30-45 minutes of swimming, cycling, stair climbing etc.) with guideline of equal intensity to a run/skate and hr based goals for each activity. I think this approach does two things gives your skating muscles a break (minimizing risk of injury etc.) and delays mental fatigue of "oh $?*& of I go to run again!"

So I plan to use this same approach for skating training. I will skate on my cross training days if I want to but if not I will do something else.


eebee's picture

Burnout Solution as Diverse as People!

You'd probably get a billion different responses to your burnout question, Skatey-Mark, since we all have different ways of dealing with stuff.


My usual way of dealing with things is: "Run away! Run away!". Or rather, run to the couch. If I've lost my oomph for a particular hobby, from music to art to skating, I just don't do it for a while. I try not to think about it at all, and when I start to beat myself up for all that 'wasted' time not making any progress in that particular activity, I try to remember that plateaux happen, and forcing myself to stay on the plateau won't hurry me up off it again. So I go with the lethargic flow. Inevitably from the lack of creation and physical activity, depression ensues which oddly enough inspires both when the time is right again. 


A great thing about burnout is that it gives your body the time it needs to heal. I didn't think I needed healing anywhere a year or two ago, but after a long pause from skating, where I started to think "I wonder if I'll ever want to skate again?", I noticed when I finally started up again that I had zero ankle-bone pain. My ankle bone bruises had finally healed. Apparently, the bone-pain was so constant - i.e., it had never really healed, that I had been skating in pain all the time and was ignoring it. The burnout rest period eliminated that problem.


It's hard to strike the happy medium (!) between skating for the expressive joy of it, and proving to others how fast you can be. I think Eddy is a rare example of one who has found a balance, and keeps himself in it. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Is it easier to be full of expressive joy if you're beating everybody else, or does being full of expressive joy give you a cool breeze advantage over your rivals? Hmmmm...


Can you identify whether you are sick 'n' tired of constantly training, striving, racing, or whether you are bored to death from the same skate routes & scenery? Has the bubble burst on your goals, i.e., been there, done that?


It may all come down to a personal decision on your part, as to whether you'd like to try to keep skating in your life for the long haul, or if you'd rather 'burn out bright' like Foo Fighters and various A2A female overall winners :-). If you'd like to keep it for the long run, then I'd advise listening to your boredom and stepping back each time you find yourself making excuses not to go.

skart's picture

Keep it short

I think that the key to keeping yourself from a burn out is keeping your "seasons" short. What I mean by that is that you don't really have to be in a top notch shape from March till November. I think that you should identify blocks of races that fall into a specific time interval and get yourself to peak then. It is only logical to take some rest between such "blocks".

For instance, if you look at the current racing calendar you will notice that the majority of races occur either in the late spring (around May) or in the fall (September/October). I believe that those could be separated out as your "micro-seasons" with some adequate rest in between.

I believe that you, Skatey-Mark, are planning on doing the Montreal 24hr race so it just may be that peaking for that and the A2A makes the most sense for you.

roadskater's picture

Echo Echo plus Couchville and Zap2It

Wow. I wrote in reply to Remembering Why We Do It and I was echoing much of what was here without knowing. Thanks for the words, everyone. It is great to hear what others go through as they try to improve their training. I like the microseasons idea, skart.

Regarding the couch, I find that Couchville.com has a nice clean TV listings interface. I think I still like Zap2It.com a bit better perhaps (it gives me a broader list of antenna channels, including some I can pick up from Raleigh and Durham and Chapel Hill with my antenna). Couchville has a huge search database that goes back several years. Try searching "Athens to Atlanta" and it's listed there for 1998 and my first year, 1999. I'm not sure what this is worth but it might be interesting to someone out there. Try "speed skating" and you'll find some old inline races listed. Coming to a TV never near you.

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