There's an ailment called "Over Reaching" which typically starts before actual Burn Out. Over Reaching is similar to getting Heat Exhaustion before the Heat Stroke.
Heat Stroke being Burn Out.
The odds of Burn Out happening to any athlete are real. If you're dedicated to your sport, it's bound to happen. I suppose if you're a pro making millions a year it may be a little easier to avoid Burn Out.
But if you're a paycheck to paycheck athlete, spending any extra cash, any extra time, any extra life on your sport, it's gonna happen.
First, lemme tell you the symptoms of Over Reaching/Burn Out. Because Burn Out, if left unattended, will probably cause not just injuries, but a hatred of something you once thoroughly enjoyed. You don't want either of those.
1) Lack of quality sleep. You need to sleep. Drinking yourself into black-out doesn't count.
2) Mood Swings. You probably don't need Prozac you mental prick. You may just need to chill the fuck out.
3) Not quite injuries, but shit just doesn't feel right. Knees ache, fingers falling off, hemorrhoids. Maybe you're sore all the time?
Or maybe you did fuck yourself up because your system is over stretched and now your femur is sticking out of your patella.
4) You throw up your hand yelling "I'm done!" That's a pretty strong signal there stupid.
5) Are you sick all the time? I mean ALL THE TIME. Maybe you're a hypochondriac, but maybe you're immune system is shot to hell because you won't slow down.
6) Loss of Motivation. This may be the easiest one to self diagnose. It is possible you're just a lazy shithead, but if something that was so enjoyable last week is now dreaded this week, it's possible you're burning out.
7) Is your performance suddenly going to pot? Can't finish that easy race? Can't screw the way you used to? Burn Out might be why.
8) Elevated Heart Rate. Sure having a fancy Heart Rate monitor makes this easier. But who the hell doesn't have one these days? Keep an eye on your Resting Heart Rate!
9) You start spending Entry Fee money on Crack.
Winners don't do drugs. Except for steroids, you can do those.
I'm stopping at 9 symptoms. There's more, but these nine will suffice. If you're suffering from more than one of the above, you may need to address it. Especially number nine.
How to deal with Burn Out? (Think I can get 9 bullet points?)
1) Take a fucking break. It's really not a big deal. You have the rest of your life to do whatever sport you've been doing. Ya, FOMO sucks, but grow up and deal with it.
2) Find something else fun to do. Obvious? Seriously, just change sports. You may need to be careful of muscular burn out, but mentally this is great.
Try a GORUCK if you want something different.
3) Smell the godamn roses!!! Shit. Just enjoy being ALIVE for a change. Instead of constantly pushing and pushing and pushing...be thankful you have what you have.
We don't normally keep roses, this pic is a one-off from 2012.
4) But you can also look forward to the future! Yes, you need to be realistic, but look at some future goals or events you want to do and start making plans on how to tackle those goals.
5) Have more sex. This is probably the best cure to anything actually. Get off the bike, out of the kayak, off the mat, out of your running shoes or whatever, just get out of your workout clothes in general.
6) Instead of training or racing all the time,share what you know, share what you love. Help out other people that have similar goals and dreams.
7) Remember that Burn Out is not forever. Learn to listen to your body and mind. Be prepared to start up again, but don't push the issue. You'll know when it's right time.
I'm stopping at 7. My beer is empty and my pants are to tight to keep this up much longer. Remember #6. That's the best one.
But let me try to wrap this up, as you probably already guessed, I am burnt out on running. I've a few more races already in the schedule. I'm gonna do them, just not train for them. I can fake my way through a Half, and I'll just suffer for anything longer.
Burn Out may happen a few times in your life. And it's Ok! That means you pushed it as far as your body was (currently) capable of. Each individual has different capabilities and different cycles of those capabilities. If you take some time to deal with it, you may end up coming back stronger than before.
Hope this helps and thanks for reading.