The pressure to win can often lead to overriding physical and even emotional signals that eventually lead to burnout. Burnout does not happen because we train hard. It happens because we do not take care of ourselves while training hard.
When we set our training bar unrealistically high, when we do not give our bodies the required time to rest, when we do a poor job managing the stressors in and around our lives, then the body will break-down.
Everybody wants to excel; however, following a straight line may not necessarily be the fastest way to make it to the top. Look at mountain climbers. They do not climb straight up, stop, and then continue climbing up. They plan its climb to reach a certain point and, from there, they climb down just enough to give their bodies time to acclimatize to the new altitude. The key is in the providing time to repair, re-group, and re-calibrate.
Over-training for an athlete it may not necessarily be for another athlete. Mark Spitz, winner of seven gold medals in swimming, did not exceed his training over 10,000 yards. His main rival, Salnikov trained for over 20,000 yards.
In the pursue of being the best, it is common to look and compare what others are doing and use those training habits as parameters that must be broken. Competition drives athletes to continue improving themselves and that is why they feel motivated to be the best. It does not, however, mean that we must do more of whoever is doing what. Your body, talent, skills, and emotional mindset is unique. Learning how to use it to its potential is the goal.
The best parameter is the one that we, individually, can realistically set that includes proper and closely supervised physical training, nutrition, rest, and stress management.
How to minimize burnout:
- Set realistic goals with your training coach; learn how to re-calibrate unmet goals rather than punishing yourself
- Include time to rest so your body can repair
- Use stress management tools to help you better control challenging moments
- Socialize with peers, classmates, and friends for the purpose to have fun and take your mind away from competition
- Challenge yourself to meet YOUR goals, not somebody else’s.
- Follow proper nutritional guidelines that matches what your body requires