As much as I love running, even I have to admit that sometimes it's just too much. I've been dancing around a bunch of excuses, feeling a blurry sensation that there's more to them than I'm aware; but it all crystallized yesterday.
Yesterday was a running day, the first of the week. I was planning to go. Eventually, my fatigue and sore muscles got the most of me. And what I realized today, as I put on PJs to grade papers and never changed into my running clothes, was that I'm burned out.
It started slowly. First, I hit my peak. I was daydreaming about running, thinking about it constantly. While I circled desks during testing, I let my mind wander to the run I'd have that evening. While talking to friends, running was the only thing I wanted to discuss. I was reading blogs on running, spending hours finding stretches, reading quotes and tips on improving form and keeping yourself moving.
But then I got to a point where I had to take time off. And coming back, I was hit by the realization that I have less than 10 days left of the school year. 10 days to finish finals, finish all the paperwork, pack up the room, get report cards done and comments in, deal with graduation and all that comes with it, attend and lead meetings...
What I realized, as I crawled into bed earlier and earlier each night, is that I'm burned out. Not necessarily on running, although I do think I hit a wall there because my last few runs have been mediocre, and that has an effect on my motivation, but on activity in general. I'm tired. That tiredness has caused my runs to be mediocre, which has led to some of the burnout. Vicious cycle.
But we all know that when we get too tired, too stressed, exercise sometimes adds more. The right amount of stress makes exercise a saving grace; too much, and all it does it wear you down. It's over-training.
I know the classic advice on overcoming burnout. Change your route. Change your distances. Try a new playlist, or running without music at all. But I don't want to deal with that right now. As much as my mind is craving a run, my body is just completely wiped.
So the excuses may keep coming. It's muggy. It's hot. (Have I mentioned, by the way, that I need to learn to run in the mornings? It's my summer goal, because the evenings - even when pitch black outside - are still humid and pushing high-80s already. It's only May!) I'm tired. I'm swamped. Too much cooking/grading/planning/working to fit a run in.
I need to learn two things. One, learn to accept that I need a break and it won't mean the end of my running. It may only be a week, or even less, and I can pick up again when things calm down. Two, learn to overcome this burnout and find some joy in a run sometime in the not-too-far future. Because overcoming burnout? Not my forte.
In fact, this may be the first real test of my 2012 NYR, because it's all about being consistent. If I burnout and take too much time off, I may lapse and have some run-less weeks. And I really don't want that.
I think I need to learn to be okay with cutting down to a couple runs a week, just enough to get out there, but not enough to let it take over my mind. I can't spread myself too thin.
I absolutely hate to do it, but a bigger part of me is dreading a run than is normal. If nothing else, that's a sign that something needs to change.
So, bear with me, folks. I intend to keep running weekly. But I also intend to get my priorities straight for the next ten days, so that I (and my students) can finish the year strong and smiling.
But seriously...what I wouldn't give for a nice drizzle to drop the temperature a few notches, shade the sun, and allow for a nice, cool, stress-free jog.