Burn-Out: Knowing When to Rest
Hello everyone! I hope you are keeping well.
This week's post is something of a follow-on to my last post: Survival Guide to Fitness in Winter . Whilst it's important to have a sense of determination and get-up-and-go in arguably the toughest time of the year in order to keep active and hitting your goals, it's also admirable having a sense of self-awareness and being able to stop.
This past week has been, for me .. pretty shitty. Fatigue like I've rarely experienced.
Sunday I rested all day from a 20km run the day before.
Monday night is when I go teach BODYPUMP..
Monday morning I felt purely run-down, very much under the weather. Ever just had that feeling of NOPE?
I hated to have to do it after months and months away from classes because of Lockdown, but I ended up getting my class subbed because I just couldn't do it. My mind was saying; 'look it's only an hour, you've done BP hundreds of times and you can always just go lighter* for tonight.. c'mon you'll feel better once it's done'.
The best decision I took that day was not going to teach BODYPUMP. I didn't do anything else. I sat on the couch and gave my body the sweet delight of rest.
Tuesday I thought I'll maybe try book into a WOD.. but same deal. I knew it wasn't time. So for a third day I sat on my backside under my deliciously cosy blanket in front of our fantastic telly.
Wednesday I wasn't feeling too happy about it but I booked into a WOD anyway - this time my mind was saying no because it had been enjoying a few days off. My body was ready though.
It was also a WOD that I wouldn't have signed up for by choice usually either.. a snatch complex, and then for metcon; barbell thrusters and skipping. Three big ol' nopes. So it was a good chance to just show up and do what I could. A few days on and I'm pretty much back to 'normal'. I am now approaching with caution so I don't risk ending up back at square one.
I still don't really know what led to this short spell of NOPE. Fatigue catching up? Could be. Hormonal? Could be. Illness? Not sure but it is fast reaching snotty cold/flu season. Sometimes it's best not to leave it to guesswork, or wait to find out. With the benefit of foresight you can hit that pause button.
What to watch out for
I don't know about you, but when there's a wee seed of doubt planted in your mind that you're not up for your workout that day there's two different feelings;
- When the mind says yes, and the body says no
- When the body says yes, and the mind says no
Now for me, when my body says yes that's all I need - the physical pep to just go get it done. My mind might say no, but I know deep down I'll actually feel better for it and it's just me trying to wiggle my way out of it.
Last week though, my body was telling me no (well, something more along the lines of; "oh please please no, I can't, I don't wannnaaaa"). Mentally, my mind was saying, yeah sure let's goo gedditttt! But physically, it was a no.
So in a nutshell, know when your mind is trying to talk you out of it and know when your body needs a time-out.
Why it is important to know about burn-out
I know exactly how important it is to stay focused in a routine or to stick to a plan, so when you hit a little bump in the road it's a good thing to pull over for a sec and check if it is just a little bump, or a warning light to take a rest stop.
Burn-out can present itself in a few different ways, such as; general body fatigue, sleep issues, appetite issues, mood issues. Left unchecked it can even lead to bigger problems like injury, which nobody wants. Even if it doesn't leave you physically unable to stay active through an injury it might even make you fall out of love emotionally with exercise.. both of which would suck.
Whether you're following a training plan, teaching multiple classes, or trying to hit a specific goal, burn-out can strike. Three factors I feel are important are;
Do you enjoy what you are doing?
Is the training too much (i.e volume or intensity)?
Do you need to be doing that amount of training/ teaching (i.e. volume or intensity)?
* I popped an asterisk up by my synopsis of my week's turmoil because I just wanted to touch on the importance of something for instructors/ coaches.
I could have just turned up to class feeling a bit physically fatigued and gone for lighter weight choices on my barbell or taken options, but the hidden danger with 'pushing on' with teaching your classes is that no matter what, your energy will be depleted after that class. You are focusing on your physical energy, but what about your emotional energy?
Me, and many instructors like me, know that each class deserves utmost care and attention. I hold my classes to a certain standard, and Monday was not going to meet that standard. Sometimes if I show up and my classes don't meet my standard it's because I'm distracted or external factors affect it, I would never go into a class expecting not to meet my standard.
On the other hand your classes may be your livelihood and you can't afford not to show up, so I do understand the dilemma.
If you are an instructor, how do you approach this? I'd be keen to know!
What you can do
For me I needed rest. I was exhausted and pretty emotionally limited. So last week the couch, the tv, my blanket were absolutely fine. I actually don't do that very often at all so I can live with that.
You might be different though.. if you are a fairly active person, or just starting out and don't want to have to stop your routine, this might not apply to you. When it boils down to it, this is a prime opportunity to practice self-care. I wrote about this before, and the beauty of self-care is that is it unique to you. There's five/six different kinds of self-care, take what it is you need.
So, whilst you might not be up for that WOD, a back-to-back class doubler, or a heavy weight session, a recovery day could be on the cards.. a walk, mobility or yoga.
It took me until 2020 to realise that rest and recovery are two different things (thank-you Ricky Long). Rest is often the default (I am guilty of this!!) ; taking a day off the gym to do nothing does feel good, but most of the time it is recovery that is needed. A stretch or a low-intensity activity to keep the body in tip-top. I did an #LFBtuesdaytip on this on Instagram too, check it out!
So there you have it..
Be kind to mind and body, and live to work-out another day.
Wanna chat about burn-out? Message me on Facebook or Instagram!