Fighting Burnout with Cross Training | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


I arrived at 5:30 a.m. The sun was still in hiding, and I was a bit chilled by the early morning air. I shed my shirt and my shorts, tossed my flip flops to the side, and took a deep breath as I stepped in the frigid pool. 

Truth be told, the pool was a very comfortable temperature, as indoor pools are, but having awoken less than 15 minutes previously, stepping in anything other than a hot shower was a shock to the system.

I swam laps for 30 minutes that day. Back and forth, back and forth, watching the sun slowly rise in silence. The only other two individuals who were up as early as me was another swimmer who I suspected had arrived as soon as the gym doors opened and the lifeguard. It was oddly quiet but peaceful.

I found myself swimming last summer due to burnout. I just got tired of running. I read a Shape article about recognizing signs of being burned out, and I had definitely lost my love for running. I felt exhausted after each run. I didn’t look forward to runs. I was unmotivated.

I needed a change.

This should have come as no surprise to me. I dub myself the Lazy Exerciser because I don’t like to exercise. I like being done with exercise. I like the perks of exercise. But I generally don’t like to exercise. Running is the fastest way for me to burn as many calories with little mental effort. I can zone out and watch a TV show on the treadmill or I can chat with my friends on an outdoor run. I don’t have to count reps or seconds or move from one set of weights to another. I just get out and run.

The problem with being a lazy exerciser is that I don’t do what runners are supposed to do – that is, cross train. Basically, cross training for a runner is doing ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES RUNNING. It helps improve your fitness and performance in running. Same in any other fitness activity. If you like yoga, try walking once a week. If you like swimming, weight train a bit. At any rate, it’s breaking yourself out of your comfort zone of exercise to try something different and stay fully in shape.

I am the worst at cross training. In fact, I generally only cross train if running is not an option.

So it wasn’t very surprising that I burned out on running. Running four to five days a week for months on end will wear on a person. That’s another reason why runners (or any exerciser) should cross train.

That summer, I found myself swimming much more than running. I still ran, but only once or twice a week. It was hot outside, and I was so tired of the races and the early mornings and the repetitiveness of it all. Swimming was a great outlet to still exercise without having to run.

It doesn’t matter what you’re into – walking, yoga, running, strength training, or something else. If you’re doing that alone, you’re going to get burned out. Frankly, for me at least, it’s hard enough to exercise in the wee hours in the morning without absolutely dreading the feeling of being burned out. You don’t want to get that way. Cross training is a great way to add some spice to your workout, but sometimes you’re just not going to want to do your choice exercise activity.

That’s okay. Tastes change. In high school and college, there is no way I would have run without someone chasing me – or unless I was chasing a ball. I played tennis then, and I loved it. I loved the competitiveness, the skill and the beauty of the sport. I still do, even though it’s been years since I’ve picked up a racquet.

My tastes changed. I run now – something I never imagined I would do. And maybe 10 or 15 years from now, I’ll do something besides running. Maybe I’ll be a swimmer. Or a walker. Or maybe I’ll want to do it all and do a different exercise every day.

But I never want to give up the healthy habit of exercise. Because, despite burnout, I need to exercise. I need to continue this habit, no matter what the sport.

If you’re feeling burned out by exercise, consider picking up something else once or twice a week – or maybe for a longer period of time, depending on the situation. Just don’t ever hang up your tennis shoes and say, “I’m done with exercise.” There’s too much at stake mentally and physically.

Here are some of my favorite activities to do at home that don’t involve running:

·      Daily Activity Workout

·      Fit Finder – Finds you a customized exercise instantly!

·      Kettlebell workout

·      Yoga (I find a million pins on Pinterest for this – I use this one and this one most frequently)

If you have any cross training favorites or are fighting burnout, let us know!