Countless studies have suggested that the harder we train without sufficient recovery, the more it saps our will power, leading to us choosing immediate reward rather than delaying it.
A recent study published by French researchers in the the journal, Biology Letters studied 37 serious triathletes, half of whom increased their training load by 40 percent for a three-week period. At the end of this, they completed a series of decision-making tasks in a brain scanner. The overtrained athletes all chose immediate rewards – for instance £10 now rather than £50 in six months.
‘What does this have to do with me,‘ you might think? ‘I’m not an elite athlete, just a regular woman trying to get a marathon personal best or training for an Ironman. ‘
It is even more relevant to female recreational athletes, because many of us tend to overtrain or do too many intense sessions in a bid to ‘make up’ for sessions missed. And it is this that leads to overtraining – and eventually, the feeling that you don’t have the will power to complete a session or, the sudden inability to resist eating rubbish when at the beginning of your training plan, you were eating so well.
And to make matters worse, endurance researcher, Samuele Marcora, has also showed that mental fatigue impairs physical performance. So what can we do to help us avoid burn out and keep our will power high?
Five simple tips to avoid burn out
- Always take time out of your day, even if it’s just a few minutes to do something that gives you some space and time to reflect. (Try our Daily Dose of Yoga online programme, just six minute practise to help your body and mind recover).
- If you keep having to miss training sessions, perhaps think about reassessing your goals for the year . Perhaps the event you have chosen is not right for you at this time; choose a different one that fits with your current commitments.
- If you miss the occasional training session on your plan, don’t try and just do the intense ones just to make up for it. This will lead to injury.
- Sleep for your recovery – after a long run, if you have limited time, ten minutes in bed with your eyes shut is better than half an hour doing foam rolling while multi-tasking and sending emails on your phone.
- Nourish your body, don’t decimate it with poor food choices.