Why, hello!! Welcome to Coach Tip Tuesday!!
This week is a great time to talk to you all about checking in with yourselves. As you’re all probably very accustomed to me saying by now: self-awareness is the most important tool that you can have in your athlete’s toolbelt. This week, I want to talk about self-awareness as it applies globally to a training plan.
As athletes progress through their training, there are a lot of things that can happen. Ideally, what happens is that the athlete responds well to the training load, remains uninjured, and is able to make continual progress towards his or her goal. But, as we all do know, this is not always what happens. Sometimes the athlete develops an injury, and training needs to be modified. Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and training needs to go on the back burner for a bit. Sometimes, the athlete progresses through the plan as designed, but finds that he or she is constantly feeling tired, slow, and bogged down. In other words, sometimes the athlete starts to feel burnt out. However, the athlete may or not recognize that burnout is taking place.
Burnout is one of the worst things that can happen to an athlete from both a physical and mental standpoint. An athlete who is experiencing burnout will not be able to perform optimally in training, which means that they will not be able to perform their best in racing. Furthermore, on the mental side of things, an athlete who is experiencing burnout will disengage from their goal. This only serves to increase the lack of physical performance; as so many of us know, the brain must be engaged if the body is going to be engaged. Whether the burnout is mental, physical, or both, it’s a bad sign, no matter when it happens in a training plan, and if it’s not resolved, the athlete’s goal is at risk of not being met.
The best way to prevent burnout is to recognize the signs of it before it has a chance to fully set in. Are you finding that you’re unable to complete your workouts as planned for several weeks in a row?? Are you feeling like you’re not spending enough time at home?? Are you able to complete your workouts, but are finding that you are not feeling good during the majority of them?? Are you finding that your goal doesn’t excite you anymore?? All of these things can be indicators that burnout is about to occur, or that it has already started.
How do you remedy this?? Well, first off: Don’t be stubborn. Acknowledge that something is off, work to identify exactly what is feeling off, and then work to develop a plan of action to correct it. If you have a coach, communicate with your coach regularly, and tell them how you’re feeling so they can help you navigate it. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; you’ll need to modify things in order to resolve a case of impending burn out. Sometimes this involves a short-term fix or replanning. Other times it might require a season overhaul. As long as the solution helps the athlete, it doesn’t really matter what that solution is.
So, in summary: make sure that you’re constantly checking in with yourself over the course of the season so that you can avoid burnout and reach your goals. In other words: Check yourself before you wreck yourself. :)