We are used to talking (& complaining about it) when we feel physically drained. This happens when we don’t have enough good quality sleep, we eat shit for some days, we are doing too much, stress, …
But have you ever heard about mental exhaustion? And did you know this can happen more frequently when you are also training heavy?
If the answer to that question is no, I would advise you to keep on reading.
As you might have read, in November I organized 2 trail running camps for women. Although it was an amazing experience, it also came with a lot of stress. Arranging everything (food, place to stay, activities, workshops), making sure everyone was welcome, running itself, … were all causes of heightened stress levels.
I am not complaining at all, because I enjoyed every minute of these camps + the preparations, but I can’t deny the extra workload that came with it. (And if we really want to be objective: I can prove this with a raised heart rate).
Another reason why I felt mentally exhausted is because of me constantly being on the move since October. And again, I am not complaining, but I have noticed that for me personally I find it hard not having 1 place to go back to.
Normally if you travel, you return to your ‘home base’ and there you can relax for a bit and then prepare yourself for your next trip. Since I currently don’t have a fixed place to stay, I put all my belongings in a locker and I have literally been living out of this place since October.
Every time when I came back from a trip, I went to the locker to (un)load everything and to prepare myself for the next one. This might not sound that big of a deal, but try to think of all the things you need for a trip and then remembering in which box you put in x amount of weeks before. Add to the equation that your clothes also need to be washed every now and then (preferably) and you are again exhausting your brain with a lot of information.
And then last, but not least, I also felt physically exhausted. My body was tired almost the entire time, but I kept pushing it. To have it do the things I wanted, I had to focus twice as hard as normally on achieving them.
This is totally my fault, because I simply underestimated the mental effect of a whole training’s month in Madeira. Pushing yourself almost every day is far from easy, even if it’s during something you love to do (in my case: trail running).
So all the things I just mentioned on its own are fine, but If you put them all together you get a nice cocktail with a bitter aftertaste.
Some of my friends and family members found it sad for me that the weather during my solo trip in Sicily was so awful (a lot of non-stop rain), but if I am really honest: I couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity to rest.
Normally, because that’s just who I am, I would be planning my day to the hour, but with the rain and cold I could not really do that much besides staying inside and watching Netflix.
So this is also what I did.
And it was the right thing to do.
I put the focus on resting and once I felt like I had a littie bit more energy, I did some exercises. Nothing to intense, nothing planned, just whatever I felt like.
And this also really helped me to get to know my body better, and for sure that next time I know where to draw my limit.