High altitude doughnuts


You ran in the cold. You outlasted the snow. Summer is finally here and by now you may be suffering from a burn more potent than the one you got on your long run. Burnout is that game your mind plays on you by asking what’s the point, why I am I doing this? This should not be confused with overtraining although it can be caused by or a symptom of it. Sooner or later everyone goes through a period of burnout. Sometimes it might last a couple of days, other times it may last for several weeks or months.

I tend to have at least one good case of burnout a year along with the several tanouts (not quite so severe). I know burnout is just around the corner when I catch myself thinking of an old doughnut commercial and hear myself saying “time to make the doughnuts” just before I head out the door for my next run.

For the most part you can keep a case of tanout from becoming burnout by applying a little funscreen. Like sunscreen, funscreen comes in different protection factors:

  • Run with somebody — the simplest and quickest way to prevent burnout.

  • Run a new route — you just may come up with a new favorite route. Try running up a mountain, through a forest or in a creek. For the really adventures try doing all three in one run.

  • Leave your watch at home — take some of the pressure off of a run or two.

  • Run an errand — pick up a video, drop off a bill, go to the post office, stop by the bakery, etc.

  • End your run with some drills — skipping, bounding and strides can leave you feeling fresh at the end of a workout, not to mention what they will do for your overall training progam.

  • Try something different during a run — climb some rocks, watch a deer, pick flowers or lay down and watch the clouds roll by. I have a friend who stops and looks around him if he is having a particularly bad run. He quickly realizes how fortunate he is for being able to run and off he goes — good for another month or two.

  • Run in the dark — If you go late enough there will be nothing but you and the sound of your footsteps. It’s amazing how different running seems when you can hear more than you can see.

  • Run in the rain — a nice cool afternoon shower can do wonders. If you approach it with the right attitude you can’t help but look up and try to catch raindrops with your tongue and then smile at the whole scene. Other things along this line include running in deep sand or sticky mud. There is something funny about trying to keep some resemblance of good running form when your running shoes are carrying a couple of inches of mud.

  • Run a race just for fun or as a workout — while this seems to work for some people, I always end up racing and being worse off than had I just went out for an easy run.
While some of these sugestions may seem old or overly simple, they can help you stay motivated so you can reach your goals. What’s that? You have no goals? All the funscreen in the world will not prevent you from asking “why am I doing this” if you don’t have a reason for doing it. A common thread among those suffering burnout is a lack of goals or goals that are too far away. Among the crowd I run with, many have made the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon their goal.

Training for and running Pikes Peak involves a lot of funscreen and the best part is you don’t even have to apply it. During your training you often find yourself doing a little of all of the above, a lot of the time. Running up and down the mountain in the snow, jumping over rocks, running through the enchanted forest, camping out at Barr Camp, seeing a bear, they all tend to keep the fun factor high — both figuratively and literally. Running (if we can call it that) at 14,110' can bring on lots of emotions, but the only doughnuts you will be thinking about are the ones you can buy in the summit house.

If running up a mountain with no air is not your idea of fun you should still set a goal. Be it to run ten blocks or a marathon, a goal will give your running a sense of purpose. Don’t be surprised however if after reach your goal you suffer a case of burnout. Relax, it will pass. It might mean a couple of weeks of running just to run. For the most part, burnout comes not from running but from training. Try some funscreen, it might just take you from making doughnuts to making tracks.

Back to the Rambling page