Understanding Burnout & Fitness

'I'f you don't trust one another from day 1… then its time to move on...'


When I was 14 I started distance running, a bit of talent in the sport gave me the opportunity to express my identity. As a grafter. A hard worker.



Training HARD over 3 years to compete at the highest level I could. Regularly running 50-65 miles a week. Sometimes training up to 8-10 times a week.


Understanding the magnitude of that is mind-boggling for some people who may not be athletes or have that competition background.


However for those who love competing it’s relatable.


However, watch out for the bear traps ahead… Especially when the warning signs are whizzing by.



1. Identity

Firstly understand that there is an identity to the connection you have with you and your sport.


It may not even be the sport. However you may have the identity as a grafter, a hard worker.

That's more powerful than any training session and a requirement to be an athlete.  


Also its something that as a coach we have to instill into clients who are just looking to stay healthy, 'an identity to looking after oneself.'   As a coach that's what we are working towards. To change someones behaviours through altering the individuals approach to health and fitness. Accidentally without even trying to, sometimes it changes the individuals identity. N.B We are not councilors or psychologists. But fitness and sport creates such change for people. But dont lie that athlete/client down on a deck chair for the hour... leave that to councillors or psychologists. They will always be more well equipped as you are more equipped to coach physical fitness. 



However with any identity comes anxiety. In this case, with many athletes this anxiety is funneled into a drive to do well. To uphold the representation one has of themselves which is a HUGE positive in sport and in day to day life.


But what happens if you do that little bit extra the week of an event?


What happens when you don't communicate to your coach that you're struggling to get out of bed in the morning?


What happens when your hunger signals arent there anymore and you have to force food down you becuase you know you have to? (Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the fullness or satiety hormone).


These are signs...


Doing just one more conditioning piece has implications.


‘Just one more set…’


They have implications for atheltes. 


1 of 2 things happen down the line….


Injury, if you're lucky.


Or even worse… Burnout.


What is burnout?


Burnout is derived from a accumulation of volume, intensity, lack of recovery via poor nutrition, stress (emotional) relationship obligations.


Even if you are a full time athlete you will find the above still applies. However the difference is they have monitoring systems. Thats what gives them the edge… well… that and sometimes other things but that’s not something we entertain.

Top class athletes have technology to tell them when they need to pull back on intensity / volume. They have Coaching staff to support regular blood tests, to monitor hormone profile, Psychologists to monitor psychological / behavioural processes.


So thats key to remember.


So what is the implication of burnout?


Well you may find out at some point.


And yes it is possible to come out of it. But it takes a LONG time.


But if you have coaching available that monitors progress on a regular basis you are ok.


For example testing every 8 weeks isnt just to see the improvements you are making.  For example these “tests” for some athletes are to highlight basic strength movements / conditinoing pieces that you require to perform consistently in order to stay healthy. From these regular “tests” you can discuss with a coach whats working and whats not working.  


However a test isnt alway a 1 rep max or a marathon.


But thats a different story altogether and a totally seperate blog.


The take away point form all of this is 1 thing.




Often times, and I put up my hands as I did it as an athletes is the athlete and coaches willingness to be 100% openly honest and communicate.


But this comes with an agreement thats set out at the start. That this has to be the way in order to move forward.


Getting emotional about disagreements is understandable.


But trust has to be 100% there.


If you dont trust one another… then its time to move on. After all, unless you 100% trust someone its next to impossible to be honest in terms of critiqueing or “calling someone out” when required.

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Larry Brady