Friday, January 13, 2012

Avoiding Burn Out

You ever get to a point where you're trying to pack so much into a day, while trying to maximize your training time, that you feel like you just can't do it any more? I periodically hit that burn out point when it comes to training and keeping the dogs in shape. It happens to me a few times a year where I just hit a wall and have to take a break from my training and conditioning regime and not do anything. Granted, I feel horribly guilty at the time, but I just get to this point where I can't continue scheduling my every non work related minute in order to try and maximize my dogs' abilities. I just hit overload and my brain shuts down. The weird thing about it is that I totally recognize this pattern I have, but I don't do anything about it. More recently I've been analyzing my patter of burn out, and trying to figure out how to avoid it.

Before competitive dog sports, my focus was training for triathlons and small scale road races. The grand scheme was to gradually build up to the point of running a half Ironman. A full Ironman takes such total dedication to training, nutrition, and sleep, that it really wasn't practical for me to have that as a goal. I read everything I could get my hands on with regards to sport specific training, cross training in other areas, nutrition, and how to structure my work out cycles. I became totally and completely obsessed with structuring my weekly, monthly, and yearly exercise regimen! It's no secret that I have a crazy love affair with Excel. My obsession with structuring my triathlon training centered around my excel files. I tracked every single exercise, every single day. I had multiple tabs to let me know where I should be throughout the year in my training, what I should be focusing on, and what points I should be hitting in what sports at what times. It was great in a very OCD sort of way.;0)

It was this sort of attention (or OVER attention) that kept me from over training and burning out on my triathlon training. I was always eager for more and excited to hit my goals and be in the kind of physical shape that I wanted to be in. Never mind the fact that it felt freaking awesome to finish those races and still feel strong after crossing that finish line! So why on earth am I experiencing burn out with regards to my dog training and conditioning regimen?? Considering how incredibly anal retentive I was with my triathlon training, it's a wonder that I didn't just walk away from the sport within the first year! And yet, I'm now involved in a sport that I feel so much more passionate about and I routinely hit periods of burn out. What gives?

The key to my triathlon training (besides my OCD tendencies), was periodization. More importantly, the four week cycle of building for three weeks, followed by a RECOVERY week. That week of recovery every fourth week was key. I had three weeks of building and challenging my body. Just as I was starting to reach the point where it was getting to be a bit much, I had a week where I was "lazy" and could mentally check out. My workouts were cake walks. I still got them all in, but they instead of pushing me to my limits, they were rejuvenating. So why on earth haven't I thought to do this before with my dogs???

From here on out, I am going to periodize my dog training and conditioning schedule. I think we're all familiar with the "phenomenon" of taking a short break from a dog sport and when you come back, both you and the dog are refreshed and seem to have a new zest for the sport. Isn't that weird? ;0) The dogs and I all really need this. While they continue to be happy to work with me and do anything I ask and go anywhere I take them, it's still nice to have those periodic spikes in interest and activity. It keeps the game exciting, keeps burn out at bay, and keeps us all in a good mental place. And the mental aspect of training and competing is something that I'm paying more and more attention to now a days.

Anyway, this was something that has been tumbling around in my head this week because I hit a bit of a burn out patch. I really wanted to get this post out there while I was still feeling enthusiastic about it.:0) And I've also been toying around with the idea of doing a few spring triathlons this summer. Some of the funner ones that I know I will enjoy. Who knows.;0) Happy Friday everyone!!


M.T. said...

Very interesting concepts of periodization and recovery, i'm glad you shared it! I learn a new thing every day :)

Kimberley said...

I think that scheduled breaks is a must to prevent burn outs for you and your animals. You have such dedication, that I can see from you videoes and blog entries. I wish that I could do it and work with my dogs that often. You dont want to get fluster because they know how you are feeling!! Thanks for sharing and good luck getting remotivated!! :)
Tripp and Bella