Change of Plans

Happy Easter! Before I start this post – a quick shoutout for the Donate Life 5K/10K in Walnut Creek on September 9, 2017. 2016-Run Walk Logo

From their website: “Funds raised from the event go towards education of organ and tissue donation in the community, hospitals and outreach efforts as well as our annual Donor Family Gathering and research.” Registration is only $25 and goes up on April 30th. They’re also working on getting me a discount code to distribute to y’all, so stay tuned.

(p.s. I wasn’t compensated to advertise this race; just hoping to help out a local charity race. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)


Get ready for some serious rambling/navel gazing!

At the beginning of 2017, I decided to make running trails my goal. Part of this goal was running 6 trail half marathons as part of the Brazen Ultra Challenge. Unfortunately, with the relocation of the Badger Cove Half to Wildcat Canyon last month, I decided to scrap that goal because it meant I’d have to race at Wildcat Canyon twice in 2 months, and pay for the privilege of doing so.

In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating my running goals, which has been difficult mostly because of lack of motivation. I knew that, even as I was training for CIM last year, I was facing serious burnout, but I didn’t realize how bad it would be. I recently just celebrated a 5-year blog-a-versary here at Running Tangents (yay!) and during that 5-year span, I’ve had a few dips in motivation here and there, but nothing as bad as these last 5 months. It’s not just mental/psychological (which I partially blame on the current President), but I also feel like crap physically. Since I’m not running much, I expect my legs to feel fresh, but alas, it feels like each run is slower than the last. Yesterday, I did a 10-mile long run along the very flat Bay Trail and averaged 11:50/mile, my slowest long run (on non-trails) in ages. Is this is what I get for saying that 11:26/mile would feel unnaturally slow?

After CIM, I was definitely ready to take a break. I figured I’d take a month off and only run when I wanted to. I tried to prioritize spending time with family and friends, sleeping in, and taking care of personal and professional matters that I had put on the back burner. December came and went…then in January, I decided to become a more well-rounded athlete and plunged into crosstraining. Which was fun, but became unsustainable. I felt like I was still being pulled in too many directions.

At some point, I asked myself, “Why am I stressing myself out about exercising? What is the point if I’m not enjoying it?” I also started wondering how healthy I truly was – in particular, my diet/nutrition was in shambles. I had started using running as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted, whether that meant donuts, soda, fast food… I was eating junk and feeling like junk. It showed in how lethargic I felt and in my ever-expanding waistline. I don’t like to talk about weight on this blog, because I think women have enough body image issues as it is, but when the excess pounds are a result of unhealthy eating and lifestyle, I think that needs to be addressed. However, I’ll confess that I’m motivated by vanity as well – we’re going to Mexico in June (hello bikini!) and then I have two events in June and July where I have to wear body-hugging dresses. Nothing wrong with multiple motivations, right? 😉

Anyway! Back to running goals…I’m still contemplating what the plan is for the rest of this year. My current goals are modest – run 3-4 times a week, averaging about 20-25 miles per week, and try to fit in an hour of crosstraining. I’d like to keep doing long runs on the weekends to maintain my endurance, even though I’m not technically training for anything. Two weeks ago, I did a solo trail run at Lake Chabot. A few of the trails were still closed due to storm damage, but I managed to get 9 miles in. Last weekend, a small group of friends and I did a gorgeous run in the Marin Headlands.

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Even with such optimal conditions, I’m not experiencing the endorphin rush that I used to get from group runs. My weekday runs feel like a chore currently. My plan for now is to switch from morning runs to lunch or afternoon runs. I’ve found that in the past, shaking up the routine was exactly what I needed to get myself out of the running doldrums.

The other thing that works for me motivation-wise is to start training for a race. I’ve been hesitant to do so, though, because of the whole burn-out thing. I’ve decided that whatever race I sign up for next as a “goal race” will be one that I’m truly passionate about, not just because it was convenient or there was a really good discount code (my Achilles heel). Since I’m going to have a very busy May, June, and July, I think something in the late summer/fall will be best.

Currently, the idea that most floats my boat is a 10K series: Brazen Summer Breeze (8/5) and the Race to End of Summer 10K (9/3). I thought about doing the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K (10/7), but unfortunately I’ll be out of town that weekend. If anyone has a good suggestion for a flat and fast 10K in October, please let me know! There are a couple of aspects of a 10K series that I like. First, instead of putting all of my eggs in one basket (goal race), each race presents an opportunity to PR (best case) and to practice 10K racing (worst case). Second, I’ve never trained for a 10K so it will be a new learning experience. Third, (I expect but don’t know for sure) that 10K training will incorporate the parts of training that I enjoy most, which are a mix of intervals and endurance, but it won’t be as high mileage as a half or full marathon. Forth, 10K is a distance that I can race once a month and not get burned out (I don’t think). Finally, training for a 10K PR will put me in a position to hopefully take some minutes off of my half marathon PR, which I view as a soft/easily targeted PR (not as soft as my marathon PR, but I’m not about to train for another marathon anytime soon – a subject for another post).

OK, I think that’s enough rambling for now. If you’ve ever experienced burnout or a significant lull in your running motivation – tell me about it. What (if anything) worked to get you out of your funk?


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

Posted in Goals, random
13 comments on “Change of Plans
  1. Paulette says:

    I faced major burnout after (and during) my Tamalpa 50K cycle last August. In part, I think the coach I was working with wasn’t meshing well for me. Too many speed work paces I couldn’t hit, and in trying to hit them I seriously beat up my body and mental state. And for some reason even with this happening, she would tell me to keep trying. (What?!) I ended up exhausted to the point of not focusing at work, sleeping poorly all the time, and not even wanting to run. I considered a DNS the week of the race and even the MORNING of the race. I felt exhausted during the race from mile 1. It was awful! Anyway, that story because I feel like I was here recently. I’m not going to say it was easy to break out of, because it wasn’t. I dropped my fall 50K (North Face) and barely survived Diablo 30K on poor training.

    Eventually after some weeks of ‘no plan’ and adding in something new that is really working for me mentally (CorePower yoga) I’ve come out of it. My training for Canyons has been good, and running new-to-me trails at Knickerbocker was really the moment I felt myself get pumped. That was my first trail race out of the Bay Area and I was basically ecstatic the whole time to see what was next! I’d recommend breaking from the usual routes especially on trails if you can. Of course, best of luck with 10K training too! I’ll try to get out there to run with you soon.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Paulette. I remember the tough time you had last year, and it gives me hope that you eventually found your way out of it. New routes and workouts (CPY) are definitely good for shaking up the routine. Best of luck next week!

  2. Cathryn says:

    I think the 10k series sounds perfect for reigniting a passion to train and race but without the time/effort/drain of longer runs. It sounds fun!

    One thing that got me pumped to run again was to sign up for something that meant I couldn’t run much….ie my century ride. I love cycling and I really enjoyed the training but I found that all I wanted to do was to run and it got me really frustrated and SUPER excited to run again.

    I’d suggest thinking about taking a whole month off running. Join a boot camp for a month. Sign up for a swim challenge or a hiking challenge or a month of yoga/barre/spin. Join a climbing wall for a month and commit to going 5 times a week. Basically ban yourself from running and keep fit doing other things. That may well trigger the hunger.

    • Jen says:

      Taking a month off running is a really intriguing idea! The more I think about it though, my malaise extends beyond running to exercising in general. I need to break out of certain mindsets, I think – I’m putting a weird amount of stress on myself about working out and not having enough time to do it (even though I do). Plus the whole fatigue thing… hopefully I’ll have answers to that soon. Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Angela says:

    You should do it. Everyone knows that 10K is without a question the best distance. 😉

  4. Angela says:

    Oh, & I was also going to recommend Rock N Roll San Jose 10K if you can stomach running a Competitor event. (I’m running the half so clearly I’m not judging.)

  5. gracechua31 says:

    Ugh, I’m sorry you’re feeling burnt out! Cat and Paulette have some great advice. I think a goal race *series* and distance is a great idea! Have you considered getting a coach? I know it sounds counterintuitive, but tell them you have no specific time goals, you just want to be a better, happier runner. It’s possible that a good coach can help you find that spark again. And each season of training builds on the last; even a bad season can make you stronger.

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, I’ve also considered what you’re suggesting – that introducing structure may actually be what I need. Hiring a coach would be a big jump for me though — mostly because my husband would make fun of me endlessly for paying someone to tell me how to do my hobby. 😉

  6. Mike says:

    This is tough, because different people are motivated by different things—I know that what motivates me doesn’t motivate most runners. And all the responses here are good ones. I guess my best advice (like Grace’s, maybe counterintuitive) would be to try adding greater discipline and structure to your workouts, starting by picking a goal that legitimately scares you, one that’s just outside your comfort zone. A 50-min 10K, maybe? Or a 1:54 half? Then give that goal your undivided attention and—every single day—envision yourself achieving it. Because you KNOW you can do it. And there’s no better motivator than success.

    Maybe you’ll need a coach to achieve it, in which case the discipline will be created for you. Or maybe you have your own training regimen but need to fine-tune your diet so you feel good enough to tackle each workout. Maybe even commit to a regular Pilates class to strengthen your body. The key will be to stick with the plan diligently, never giving yourself an excuse to bail on a workout or class. And don’t worry about overtraining—a well-designed training plan will tire you out to be sure, but at the same time it will strengthen your body so you’re better able to adapt and recover quickly. Overtraining happens when you try to do more than your body is capable of doing.

    Like you said, right now I think the lack of a clearly defined goal you’re passionate about (you’re a scientist after all, clearly defined goals are important!) may be driving your ennui. It’s like the New Year’s Resolution to “work out more”—without an actionable plan that provides direction and motivation every day, resolve quickly fades.

    Just my $.02 worth, hope it helps. Bummer about the Brazen Ultra Half Series—great goal, great series. Of course, like Cat said you can always try something besides running for a while to see if that rekindles the fire. Good luck!

    • Jen says:

      Thank for the suggestions, Mike. I agree that a lack of defined goals might be driving my ennui, as well as some kind of physical malaise that I haven’t been able to figure out. Hopefully, I’ll find some solutions to both soon. Regardless, it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t. Haha.

  7. […] again! Thanks to those of you who commented on my last post about lack of motivation and gave me encouragement and suggestions. Upon further reflection, […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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