12 Ways to Avoid Marathon Training Burnout

Don’t you ever get tired of running?”

You’ve certainly been asked this at least once in your running history. On stellar running days, you laugh and proclaim how much you love it…but towards the end of marathon training you take an extra beat before muttering something about a runner’s high.

After all we can’t admit to non-runners any potential misgivings about our decisions to run 26.2 miles, lest we give them any reason not to join our league of crazy.

Burnout is a condition that has physical, emotional, and psychological aspects. Burnout is real; leads to fatigue, loss of motivation, depression, and even anger.

Burnout, not to be confused with overtraining though the two often happen simultaneously, usually rears it’s head as a serious case of our inner terrible two’s screaming “but I don’t wanna” every time we’re supposed to lace up.

If left unchecked you give in because who can resist a crying baby forever? You skip a run and it feels kind of fantastic…then another run which makes you feel guilty, but…then you’ve excused a long run and suddenly it’s marathon weekend and you’re left wishing you’d applied a little tough love.
12 ways to prevent marathon training burnout and stay on track with your trainingWhile every training cycle will have highs and lows, here are 12 ways to help avoid or recover from marathon training burnout.

RELEASE PERFORMANCE GOALS - Sometimes burn out is a direct result of many runners Type A tendencies. Needing to follow the plan to a T, nailing every workout and of course focusing on that massive PR attempt can lead to unnecessary stress.

Matt Fitzgerald discusses the idea of fun leading to improvement in his book Runprioritizing enjoyment and trusting that the more fun we have in training, the fitter we will become.” I think this is because it allows us to be flexible with our training and releases the performance pressure because no matter the finish line result, we’ve enjoyed the journey. IMG_7159RACE - In complete contrast to the above tactic is to jumping in to a 5 or 10K race in the next couple weeks. Many runners get reinvigorated to train hard by a little extra competition and often from the surprising results that show they are making progress.  Important note here: If you are feeling fatigued, worn out, or on the brink of injury the be smart enough NOT to employ this tactic.

CROSS TRAIN - It goes without saying that one way to get over running doldrums is simply to stop running! Do something else for a day or even a week. Often a few days of moving your body in new ways or slowing down with yoga will leave you jonesing for a run.

At a minimum it will give your muscles a break so you can head out on fresher legs. As Coach Amanda Loudin reminds us the biggest running mistake is not resting. Give your body a chance to absorb all the work you’ve been putting in over the last few months.

KNOW IT’S NORMAL - Even the most talented, dedicated, hard core athletes experience burn out. Find comfort in knowing that nearly every runner has moments of doubt at some point in weeks 12-16 of an 18 week cycle. Misery loves company and all that, but more importantly you know that this feeling will pass for you just as it has for all those who trained before you.

TIME MANAGEMENT - Marathon training inevitably takes more time than we assume. It’s not just the run. There is the warm up, the cool down, the stretching to prevent IT Band pain, the ice baths, the time planning more healthy snacks because you’re ravenous, the extra laundry and the extra sleep!

EASE UP ON PACE - Not every run should be done at the same pace. Ensuring you have a solid mix of easy and intense keeps you from beginning to dread workouts because you know some days will simply be about enjoying the movement and others about mentally feeling stronger.

Many runners get caught up in the numbers on their watch instead of focusing on building mileage. The mid-point of marathon training is often where peak mileage occurs and thus intensity may need to drop.

ADVENTURE - Remember this entire experience is an adventure. Each day you are learning new things about yourself - “who knew I could run that far?!”can’t believe I pushed through that one” “something in my body doesn’t feel right.”

By focusing on the entire journey it makes each run more important and more enjoyable. When your sole focus is race day, the individual runs lose importance and thus desire delclines.

CONNECT - I am a major proponent of solo runs for mental and physical benefits, but sometimes the best way to beat burnout is a running buddy. Maybe it’s a group you run with all the time. Maybe it’s seeking an entirely new crew for a change of scenery. Chatting can certainly help to pass the miles and make you look forward to the workouts.

Just remember your group should be supporting you…not pushing you so hard that every workout becomes a race. That can definitely lead to injury and burnout.Find a Running GroupFIND YOUR JOY - One of the unintended side effects of being injured is that you realize just how important running has become in your life. Most runners will hold on to that feeling for a month or so after returning, but it’s possible to keep it going for many years if you spend a little time on each run simply remembering why you love it.

Maybe it means checking out some Pinterest boards for motivation, maybe it means reviewing your training logs or looking at race medals…or maybe it’s simply remember that the without the really bad runs, you’d never appreciate the one’s that leave you feeling like a million bucks.

LONG RUN ONLY GOODIES - It might sound strange, but put aside a few things that you are only allowed to use or have on long runs. I LOVE my Vega Pre-Workout Energizer, but I save it for long runs. Maybe for you it’s Swedish fish or the one day you allow yourself a froyo date with the fam.

I have audiobooks that I save just for the long run because it makes me think all week about getting back out there to find out what happens next. It’s an added bonus that gets me excited to spend a few hours on my feet. I’m a booknerd, it’s ok.

INSTAGRAM HASHTAG TWEET IT- Head down, pushing through we often miss the beauty of the areas we’re running through. Under normal circumstances I would say put that cell phone a way, but  oddly in this one instance thinking about a photo to share from the run forces you to connect with where you are!

Once you’ve posted add a few hashtags like #FitFluential #SweatPink #Runner #FindYourStrong and watch the running/fitness community show up to be your cheerleader. On bad runs they help remind you it will pass and on great one’s they give you a virtual high five. {Are we Instagram buds?}

RAVE RUNS - My favorite thing about running is the simplicity. Walk out the door, start running. BUT driving to a special spot for a long run can make all the difference when training is beginning to feel hard or like a chore. We have to get up extra early to drive to Flagler Beach or Clay Road, but no matter how hard the run I can’t stop smiling in those places. It’s absolutely worth it every time.
Rave Run - New Smyrna Beach

Help the community out!!
What’s your favorite trick for passing the miles on a rough day?

How do you manage long training cycles?

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31 Fall Smoothie Ideas - Get your greens of the season

During the summer it’s easy to find myself craving a great big green smoothie after a run, but as the temperatures drop well sometimes you begin thinking about soup and big warm bowls of chili instead.

While a big heaping bowl of vegetable soup is amazing, I still believe the smoothie is the most foolproof way to pack a punch with veggies and fruit with very little prep time!

You know I’m an uber fan of the green smoothie and often get requests for the perfect recipe to get started {find that here}, so once you’ve mastered the basic green smoothie tantalize your taste buds with this round up of amazing fall inspired smoothies.31 Healthy Fall Smoothie IdeasApple Smoothies
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! They also add a great crisp fresh taste to smoothies and with these recipes will leave you thinking colorful Autumn thoughts.
Apple Pie Protein Smoothie by Running With SpoonsCinnamon Apple Spice from Fitbie
Apple and Pear Smoothie by Queen of the Red Double Wide
Fall Harvest Smoothie by Kudos Kitchen by Bree
Apple Flax Cinnamon Smoothie by Beyond Diet
Apple Pie A La Mode Protein Smoothie by Fit Views
Apple Pie Protein Smoothie by Running With Spoons {pictured above}
Green Apple Spinach Smoothie by A Beautiful Mess

Pumpkin Smoothies
Once upon a time there was a blogger who did not go ga-ga over pumpkin each Fall….seriously, a few years ago I thought I might be banned from the whole bloggie world for not falling in love with all things pumpkin so I decided to start trying out a few things and found that I do actually enjoy it!
Protein Pumpkin Shake by Pumpkin and a PrincessPumpkin Pie Smoothie by The Fit Fork
Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie from Washingtonian
Pumpkin-ana Smoothie by  Eat Spin Repeat
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie by SkinnyMs
Protein Pumpkin Shake by A Pumpkin and a Princess
Ginger Pumpkin Kefir by Purely Twins
Vanilla Butternut Squash Smoothie by Soulful Spoon {ok it’s not pumpkin, but seriously cool!}

Berry-good Smoothies
Skip your normal post-workout banana and try something different this season! You can jump on the cranberry bandwagon before Thanksgiving arrives or get a little crazy with blood oranges and pears!Beet Coconut Dream Smootie by Dishing Up DirtCranberry Vanilla Smoothie 
Persimmon Vanilla Bean Smoothie by Running To The Kitchen {pictured below}
Fall Cranberry Pear Smoothie from Fitnation Mag
Oatmeal Pear Smoothie by Hello Natural
Cranberry Ginger Smoothie by Vega
Blood Orange Ginger Raspberry Smoothie by Passionately Raw
Beet Coconut Dream Smoothie by Dishing Up the Dirt {pictured above}
Acai and Red Cabbage Smoothie by Blender Babes
Red Velvet Smoothie by The Blonde Vegan

Healthy Dessert Smoothies
What are the holidays really without dessert! A few ideas to indulge the sweet tooth while still packing in some serious nutrition. Don’t let the names fool you these really are healthy!
Persimmon Vanilla Bean Smoothie By Running To The KitchenCarrot Cake Smoothie by Lexi’s Kitchen
Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie
Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie by Healthy Daily Makeover
Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie by Oh She Glows
French Toast (Vegan) Smoothie by Produce on Parade
Banana Cream Pie Milkshake by Desserts with Benefits
Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Smoothie by Dishing Up The Dirt
Peach Cobbler Smoothie by The Lean Green Bean

In case you’ve been under a rock and have seen all my Tweets or new Best Smoothie Pinterest Board…checkout how you could win big with Vega’s newest giveaway. This is not a sponsored post, I just happen to love ‘em and know you love Vega too! Vega Smoothie ContestDo you green smoothie?

Do you change up the ingredients with the seasons?

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Image source Getty Images.

Tuna Avocado Brown Rice Bowl: Quick high protein, dairy free, gluten free dinner

Feed me, now you crazy wench.

We’ve all been there, right? Not someone calling you a wench, but your stomach screaming for attention!

Running in the door after traveling or work feeling so ravenous you’d happily dive head first in to a jar of peanut butter because there is no preparation required.

Since I am diligently attempting in every way possible to follow the sage advice of my sports dietitian and increase my protein, meal times have started to take a lot more planning and thought. I want protein, but I also want tons of veggies and some days my brain just needs a break!  

I was psyched one evening to realize that everything in my pantry could come together within 10 minutes for an awesomely delicious dinner thanks to a coupon I received from Success® Rice.Success Whole Grain Brown RiceI love proving that healthy eating can be fast and can in fact use some packaged ingredients. Why? Because I need to have staples in the house that make it easy to toss something together when I've been traveling or finished off all the leftovers from a weekend of meal prep.

Tuna and Avocado Brown Rice Bowl
Weeknight healthy dinner ready in 10 minutes - tuna brown rice avocado bowl

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 can tuna packed in water
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Garlic salt
  • Dulse
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional: orange slices or fried egg
    Brown Rice Avocado Tuna Bowl

1. Cook Success® Whole-Grain Brown Rice {woot gluten-free!}
-- I chose to do it in the microwave and it absolutely came out perfect with a great chewy texture and nut-like flavor, plus the portion was spot on so I won’t have random left over rice.Rice in microwave2. Open can of tuna
3. Open can of green beans
4. Find a large bowl….
5. I think you’ve got the last step figured out

Optional - I decided to up the individual protein by adding a fried egg to both servings. It gives some additional flavor which makes you feel like you are having healthy fried rice!

Want more ideas for adding a little brown rice to your life? Checkout Success® Rice on Facebook and their Pinterest board. Also don’t miss out on their sweepstakes with O, The Oprah Magazine! Submit the entry form and pin with inspiration from O‘s PROMO: How Are You Cooking This Fall? Pinterest board for a chance to win a variety of culinary-themed prizes.

Do you have a go to quick dinner meal?

Favorite ways to use brown rice??
I’m looking for more recipes so drop your links!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Success® Rice

Tracking Pixel

Running Form: Improve your speed and reduce injuries

After reading Born to Run and investigating barefoot running, I like most people stumbled on ChiRunning.

I did a running form analysis with a coach, of course read the book and have been practicing the drills. It’s been my style of running for YEARS now and I thought it was working…I might not be getting faster, but minus the recent knee I’ve been injury free.

Imagine my surprise when Eric Orton told us within minutes of starting run camp it was all wrong! 

“Our bodies are designed to move in a certain way, common to all of us, and because of this I fundamentally believe there is a single ‘best’ form for running.” - Eric Orton

While running form is far easier to teach in person, I want to break down the differences that I saw because I know so many of you are looking to get faster, stronger and stay injury free, which is what Eric is all about. {Read The Cool Impossible for a full description and exercises.}

After looking back on the last few years, I realize this is a little closer to the Pose Method which I actually learned when meeting Christopher McDougal and Scott Jurek in Miami, it just didn’t stick!! Comparing Pose Method and ChiRunning TechniquesFollowing are some of the key differences between Eric's method (similar to Pose) and ChiRunning:

ChiRunning - “Contrary to popular belief, your calves are not necessary for endurance running.” Keep your entire leg limp throughout the movement

Eric - Your calves are your powerhouse for propelling the body forward. Push through the ground with your foot allowing your leg to use it’s power from foot to glute.

ChiRunning - Strike with the “full foot” or flat footed to keep the muscles of the lower leg relaxed.

Eric - Land on the “forefoot” or ball of the foot to fully engage the lower leg for power. This keeps your knee and ankle always in alignment. After landing on the forefoot, heel will touch moving through the stride.
Foot Strike IllustrationIllustrations by Charlie Jahner

ChiRunning- Bend your knee (leg kicks behind you). This motion requires little muscular effort; and according to their theory with greater levels of relaxation this motion will occur almost by itself.

Eric - Raise your knee (looks like high knees) to drive forward, while the standing leg should fully straighten. You’ll notice many barefoot runners keep the standing knee slightly bent losing the full force of pushing off the ground and creating quad dominance.

Image on the left is Pose or Eric’s method and right ChiRunning
Comparing Pose Method and ChiRunningLEAN
ChiRunning - Lean from the ankles as if falling forward and use this for momentum.

Eric - Stand tall, but act as though you are being pulled from your hips forward. Too much forward lean prevents the core and glutes from activating, reducing power.

Following are the couple of things I will not need to change about my stride as they both agree on these points:

Cadence: 180 steps per minute is ideal regardless of pace
Tall: Stay tall to keep your lungs open for better breathing
Arms: Swing back at 90 degrees, not forward and not across your body
Low Profile: Keep shoes pretty natural so you can feel your feet on the ground
Foot Strength: Do exercises to strength feet for total stability and better running
Practice: Spend time thinking about your form on every run

I'm stubborn when it comes to changing anything running...unless it's broke and all that.

But I was at his camp, so might as well try, right? It’s definitely not something that felt immediately natural, but which I could see having a major impact on my speed. My initial thoughts:

  • Running up hill was dramatically easier
  • Downhill placed less stress on my knee with no braking
  • Flat land is where I’m still struggling, it feels like prancing

For now I’m following one of his key pieces of advice “STAY PATIENT”. I practiced the new technique this weekend at the beach and was happy to see I’m hitting with forefoot then full foot and driving my knee, so it may not be natural yet but it’s coming along.
Practicing Running FormSTRENGTH Drills
Eric lays out a great set of drills in his book and which we did at camp that will not only help strengthen your foot, but engage your entire leg helping to reactivate those lazy glutes.

Most of the exercises are done on a couple pieces of small equipment that Eric designed such as his balance balance board and slant board. I’ve been doing them every other day because I dig how it makes me focus on my core too!
Using his balance board, you place one foot on and keep that leg entirely straight and engaged, then perform each movement slow and controlled.

Lifting leg to side - Lift opposite leg out to side
Knee up - Lift opposite knee straight up in front (like high knees)
Holding knee and rotating - With knee lifted rotate lower body as one unit without rotating shoulders.

Check out out this detailed video from Eric with exercises and explanations of the entire running form.

How often do you focus on your form?

Are you a forefoot, mid or heel striker? Ever tried to change?

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Mountain Running Academy- AKA Pain and Bliss

Would you like to attend a running camp in Jackson Hole lead by Eric Orton, coach from Born to Run?”

My initial thought was what a dumb question. OF COURSE I wanted to go.

I did what I always do when running is the question: said yes and then explored the details.Teton Mountains from AirplaneBy the time the wheels touched down in Jackson Hole, this situation finally registered in my “sane mind” and I knew it was going to be a beautiful, but grueling few days.

The hard truth is I was not prepared:

  • I don’t run trails and these were serious trails
  • I don’t have hills to train on and we’re running up a mountain
  • I live at sea level we’re starting at 6,300 and going to 10,000 feet
  • And there’s the whole runner’s knee issue from which I’ve had only a few weeks of running.

My saving grace?

Eric Orton.Eric Orton Mountain Running AcademyI call this the “yes you can” photo, where once again Eric is giving me just enough details to handle what’s at hand and not think about what’s to come after that.

The man, the myth, the legend from Born to Run is exactly what every crazy runner needs in this kind of situation. He’s a true coach not because of one book, but from a lifetime of experiences.

  • He believes we can do more than we think
  • He knows the human body/functional movement to resolve our injuries
  • He has trained many endurance athletes and understands the psychology at work.
  • He is genuinely passionate about helping others run.
  • He is an adventure seeker, which you can’t help but want to join.

I want to share with you details about the days, but if you don’t get that this was more than a workout in the mountains, you’ll be missing the whole point.

It was a mentally and physically jam packed three days that should have come with a warning label “will change your life, be prepared.” Sounds like a lot to ask of a running camp right? But that’s the point…this is more than a running camp!

Thursday morning our small crew of 5, plus coach Eric met for breakfast at the Teton Lodge where immediately I liked Allison who was also a dairy free, gluten free eater and thus made my life super easy the rest of the week!

As the group started chatting about different running experiences, I just kept thinking yup this is going to kill me, but at least I’ll die happy.

Our very first order of business was to unlearn a lot of bad form habits through doing about 90 minutes of drills inside with our bare feet and some great tools that Eric has developed. I’ll be sharing more on this whole area later because it deserves it’s own post!

Running in Jackson Hole MountainsAfter all the work inside, the rest of the camp was truly about focusing on putting those new movement patterns in to action and using them to be stronger, faster and injury free.
Jackson Hole Ski Resort TramThat first morning we took the tram up to 10,000 feet where it was cloudy, windy and lightly snowing. Embracing the experience I couldn’t stop smiling even though I was freaking out on the inside…it was just too stunning not to be in love, but I’m not used to being on top of a mountain. Mountain run form drillsThe next three days we spent time doing a whole lot of hill repeats on various 20% grade hills first at 10,000 feet and then working our way up the mountain from 6,300 feet. The goal of all of these was:

  • acclimate us to the altitude
  • strengthen our legs
  • practice the new form techniques we learned
  • challenge ourselves
  • have some fun

Other times we were simply hiking up {always up I swear!}, jogging the flats and in my case tip toeing the down hills. Hey, I didn’t lie about my lack of trail experience and with the steep grades and loose rocks I just wasn’t as sure footed as the great folks in my group who are trail runners.Eric Orton Running CampHITTING A MENTAL WALL
I’m not proud of this.

I hate to even mention it…but I think it’s important.

On day 2 I found myself verging on tears about every 5 minutes of the 3 hour morning workout. In fact, when Eric asked us to think about our next big goal during one run segment I blurted out “not to cry to today!” YIKES, after that I just tried to shut my trap. 

On a normal day everything and anything running makes me happy. Jackson Hole Run CampFor some reason as we started up that mountain {during that workout we climbed about 2,000 feet over 3 miles} I was like Linus with a crappy black cloud following my every move.

Maybe it was lack of sleep, lack of oxygen or simply being pushed outside my comfort zone, but I just couldn’t latch on to the fun or beauty around me.

Unfortunately as we started to descend that same 2,000 feet my knee began to hurt once again.2XU Compression pants for long runsThat afternoon, Eric did some pressure point work and really helped to figure out the cause of my runner’s knee {which as we know isn’t usually the knee itself}. At this point, I literally started to cry because well he was doing what a good sports massage can do and breaking up some serious scar tissue…

Yet that was the moment when my attitude started to shift too.

Eric is pretty fantastic at helping YOU make that shift simply by talking… in fact here’s one great statement from him of many we heard

“Every challenge offers us an opportunity to improve and get better, but it takes a mind shift sometimes. Things will not always go the way we want them to and the more we resist this, the harder it will get.  Resistance creates stress and a desire to change something external only leads to more stress.  Acceptance of the situation gives way to learning and ultimately leads to great satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.”

I didn’t have to do the afternoon hike, it was entirely a choice, but I might be missing out on some great time with the group, a cool experience and of course taking full advantage of the time in Jackson Hole.

For me the clouds quite literally parted in that moment {no seriously this photo is totally from camp!}Seeing Through the Clouds I like choices.

I like being in charge of what I do and I definitely like fully embracing opportunities. So I hiked that afternoon and the next morning though my knee hurt, I did the group run and then…well then came the scariest part of all…

After finishing our final morning run on Saturday, it was time to peak out.

Say what, what?? Peak out means literally hiking to the peak of the mountains in the area.

HOLY SCHNIKES.  (The one to the far left is where we were headed).Cody Peak, Jackson HoleAs I’ve mentioned, this camp was about so much more than learning to mountain run. It was truly living and breathing what Eric writes about in The Cool Impossible: You can, if you are just willing to believe.

As we started picking our way along the rocky path, we met our first obstacle…LITERALLY CLIMBING UP a rock face. In that moment, I wanted to look at him and say “it’s been real catch ya’ll later”.

Instead, I took a deep breath and just did exactly what he told me to.theClimbFrom there we had about an hour of hiking along the side of a freaking mountain to reach the peak. In a bizarre twist I was actually the one leading the group. I kept my head down focused on not moving with a rock all the way down the edge and as the adrenaline peaked…so did we.
peakingoutOnce we reached the peak, I was reassured by the fact that no one wanted to move very much! Turns out I wasn’t the only one facing some fears. Even these adventurers had to dig deep to walk across some of the narrow ridges and loose rocks at 10,700 feet. 

Most amusing to me was that after an hour of nerves raging like a teenagers hormones…we had to get back down!! The fear facing wasn’t over yet, since I’m actually far more scared of down than up!
Cody Peak Top of the MountainHard as this 3 day camp was for this flatlander, I am already thinking maybe next year I could try again and do better! Plus there is just so much more that happened which I haven’t even told you about like the evening meals which were just an amazing time to talk about all things running and of course meeting other runners who have inspired me to look at running in a whole new way.

I faced multiple fears last week and guess what…I didn’t die or fail. One of Eric’s favorite lessons: “What if failure doesn’t really exist?” A pretty valuable lesson for every aspect of running and life! I hope I can continue to take it with me to reach some new goals.

Look for follow ups on what I learned about running form and running ultras!

Too many great things to slap in just one post!  For now let me just say you first need to read The Cool Impossible and second need to totally consider this camp.

What fear have you conquered lately?

Have you ever gone running at altitude in the mountains?

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