Pacing yourself is not sexy.
It’s not exciting, explosive, extreme or epic or anything else that tends to get attention. But it works.
I bring this up because I read a post by Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness about what to do when you’re burned out. I’ve been there — I think every long-term runner has — and he gives excellent advice about how to recover.
His prescription includes resting, resting and more resting.
“Take a day off from training every once and a while,” he writes. “but put it in your schedule as a DAY OFF.”
He also advises figuring out what caused the burnout, and in his case it was fairly obvious – two and a half years writing 332 articles and a five month adventure around the world. That will do it.
I’m in awe of Steve’s accomplishments, and they were well worth the incredible effort.
But I think an equally impressive goal is to avoid burnout while consistently enjoying what you love – even every single day. You can do this if you pace yourself, especially in beer and running.
I discovered this after suffering burnout when I ran far too many miles during one summer in high school. My motivation and performance plummeted. It was a horrible, debilitating feeling and I didn’t think I’d ever get back to where I wanted to be.
I eventually recovered after a lot of down time, but by then the pendulum swung so far in the opposite direction I was afraid to do too much for fear of burning out. Because of this, my performance again flagged and I didn’t live up to my potential.
I finally found a happy medium after a few years of running. Hard workouts were balanced with recovery runs. I backed off for awhile after following rigid training schedules. And in races, I kept my pace as consistent as possible throughout the course.
I still remember my last cross country race in high school. Our entire team started out far behind the whole field in dead last place. It took a huge amount of self-control. Then I passed 70 or 80 people. It may have looked like I dramatically sped up, but mostly I kept a consistent pace.
I didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, but I ran the smartest race I could. And most importantly, I continue to run 12 years after that.
I knew when I started running and drinking every day, pace was going to be especially important. It’s what’s kept me going for 304 days and counting.
In the same way, mainstream beer culture gets conflated with drinking games, chugging, keg stands and excess. I can’t say I haven’t been there, but craft brew drinkers and beer runners know that’s not sustainable.
Beer runners pay close attention to and appreciate each beer they drink. They savor it. They pace themselves throughout the night and over time. You can enjoy daylong tastings, craft beer festivals or Russian Imperial Stouts and Double IPAs if you take them in stride.
I’m not saying don’t let loose every now and then with a Beer Mile or something a little over the top. I think that’s a healthy part of balance.
But if you want to be in it for the long haul, pay attention to your pace. Don’t let it be underrated.