5 Ways to Conquer Triathlon Burnout

Originally appearing at Fat Now Fit by Randy Messman


Not too long ago you looked forward to workouts. When the alarm beckoned you from your deep and wondrous slumber, you leapt from your bed like a cat that just saw a cucumber. As of late, you’ve been hitting the snooze like CRAZY. So what happened?

If you are anything like me you got burned out. How is that remotely possible considering we are obsessed with socks, power meters, spandex, and saddle creams? For me it started with Christmas vacation and came to a head when I had to transfer out of Ironman Texas because of scheduling conflicts. Truth be told, my oldest is graduating high school the same day so it was a no brainer. When this happened, I let everything slide. My diet went the way of the triceratops and my training entailed watching netflix for 3-4 hours a day. There’s nothing wrong with watching netflix for 3-4 hours a day if you’re on a treadmill or a trainer while you watch, I just wasn’t… I was in bed eating Double Stuff Golden Oreos. I was however, drinking Coke Zero so all was good. Needless to say, there is not, to my knowledge, an activity that can be added to my 920XT entitled “Netflix Watching”. So after some soul searching and seeking out advice from the internet and the ever so wise, Dave Jiminez, I came up with a few ideas to break the monotony, charge the batteries, and figured out 5 ways to conquer triathlon burnout.

Lose the data: Most triathletes are data driven. I know that I am. I love to see the Training Peaks box turn green, I love to see my TSS graph move up like the DOW in a bull market. I love looking at my power numbers, cadence, ATL, CTL, form… I love it. I relish my minutes per mile and my HR zones. The problem with all of this is that it becomes exhausting at a point, physically and mentally. Sometimes being compliant to your workouts is a chore in and of itself. So leave the watch at home and let your heart rate strap air out for a while. Hell, wash it. I recently discovered that the straps don’t melt if you submerge in soap and water. So go run by feel, if you’re tired walk, if you feel like bombing up a hill, do it. Have fun again. Take the dog with you. Throw the kid into a jogging stroller and grab your camel back (not toe) and go. Have fun.

Entertain yourself: Dave and I discussed this on the last podcast. Dave recently just built a new playlist for his upcoming run. Do it. Create a playlist especially for your next workout and don’t listen to it until you workout. Make it special. Put on Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” and make believe that you are the Karate Kid taking down Cobra Kai.zabka

Along those lines, find something to watch on Netflix if you’re on the trainer. If you don’t have a Netflix account or a streaming service of some kind then you are kind of out of luck. I guess you could bust out the latest issue of “The Saturday Evening Post.” Anyway, only watch your next binge-worthy program on the trainer. Check out the weird movie your wife or husband doesn’t want to watch. Do it, because it’s fun.

Dust off the Mountain Bike: Sometimes you need to get back to nature. Get on the ole 29’er and go find a local single track. Take in the scenery, breath in the air, and pet a raccoon. Call up that estranged in-law you haven’t spoken to since they snubbed their nose at your wife’s 7 layer dip at the last Mexican themed Thanksgiving and invite them along. If they’re still being a dick then kick em down a hill or sabotage their bike. It’s ok, no one is going to see you because you’re in the wilderness. It’s probably where they dump bodies anyway. Just get on your bike and get moving. Remember when you were a kid and you made ramps out of a refrigerator box, packing tape, and shingles? It was wildly dangerous and fun at the same time. So go build a bad ass ramp and hit it going about 20 mph. It’ll be fun and is totally safe. Especially if you’re over 40.

Commit to just starting the workout: Personally, I got to the point where I would look at my workouts and become utterly dejected over the sheer amount of time I would be spending. So I just wouldn’t do it. Not a great plan if you have a race of any length to complete though. So just commit to starting. If you don’t like it, stop. For me starting is the hardest part. Chances are once you saddle up or hit enter on the treadmill you will end up staying on it for a while.

Remember that we “get” to do this. We all have different reasons for wanting to go long or wanting to complete a triathlon. It may have been a while since our first race but remember the “why”. This sport is fun and this sport is something that most people don’t do. Whether we are on the podium or getting swept because we missed a time cut off, we are part of an elite group of athletes. We are normal run of the mill people that have decided to do something extraordinary and take part in something that most would consider impossible. We truly get to know who we are as a person and tap into our innermost self. This is a privilege and we should treat it as such.

My wife’s grandfather once told me, “You never know what a person is capable of until you load them up.” It’s true. We don’t know our full potential and capabilities. I got knocked down. Mentally mostly. I became depressed and mentally exhausted. Guess what, though? I’m getting back up and so can anyone that has gone through this before. We shouldn’t let a temporary feeling affect us permanently. So let’s get back to the love of the sport, let’s jump our bikes through a flaming hoop off a ramp made of home depot boxes and red and green Christmas storage boxes. Screw the Garmin. Let’s go run because we can.

Let’s just start again.