We all want to be at the top of our game, at all times. But what happens when there’s a setback? How do you overcome injury? Or burnout? Or a plateau in progression?
These challenges are all indicative of one thing- the body needs to rest and reset. We hit these setbacks when the body hasn’t had enough time to recover between training or racing sessions. The best way to overcome these types of setbacks is to recognize when they are creeping up and hit the reset button before they happen.
To prevent setbacks happening in the first place you have to be pretty in tune with your body. Rest and recovery are such a natural and vital component of training that your body will send some very strong signals if it is not getting enough. It’s like not eating for extended periods of time, the longer you go the stronger the hunger pains get. So, what are some signals that the body is about to experience a setback:
- Prolonged soreness
- Excessive fatigue (even after a good night’s sleep or a day off)
- Decrease or complete lack of motivation
- Decrease in speed, distances run, and energy for workouts
- Becoming sick or having a persistent cold (longer than a month)
- Joint pain/achiness getting out of bed
We all have off days, but if you notice any of these signs are persistent for a week’s time, or longer, it is time for a reset.
When the body approaches the breaking point, hit the reset button. This can be done by:
There’s nothing better than taking a few days or even a week off. All the work that you have put in will still be there when you get back. It can take up to a month before there are any noticeable losses in cardiovascular efficiency or muscular endurance, that’s why the pro’s take at least 2 weeks off at the end of a season; 5-7 days will allow the body and mind to recover.
Burnout and staleness often results from monotony. To combat this, find a way to change your scenery, training scenarios, or mindset. Grab a few friends and start a game of ultimate frisbee. Instead of running on the road, try the trails. Add in a day of cycling in leu of running. As long as you are pushing your cardiovascular capacity, you are training aspects of being a great runner.
The reset is just as much mental as it is physical. Leading up to this point you have been off your game and may have seen some decline in performance. This can easily lead to a lack of motivation. Remind yourself why you are a running and why you want to push through this to get back to the other side of training.
Recognizing when a setback is approaching and taking the appropriate time to reset will allow you to overcome any obstacle on your training path. Try even a short reset, 2-3 days off or creating a goals journal, to see how hitting the reset button can help you through stagnation and get you back on the road to being the best runner you can be.