Avoiding Over Training & Burnout


Experience From - Brick Robbins , Karl King , Mike RS , Jay Hodde , Tom Hayes , Bob Rayburn , Norm Yarger . Larry Gassan , Brandy , Fred Vance , Mike Schupp , Fred Vance #2, Unknown, Karl King #2, TJ Johnson, Andy Holak, John Doss, Rich Schick, Chip Marz, "Frozen" Ed Furtaw, Payton Robinson, Gene Thibeault,

Brick Robbins

I read an article on over training that said in part:

Avoid over training by monitoring:
  1. resting heart rate,
  2. anaerobic threshold,
  3. body weight,
  4. appetite loss, and
  5. Insomnia (lack of sleep).

And I was wondering if anyone knew how to judge at what point the anaerobic threshold is crossed, so that this measure of over training can me used. Also, is insomnia more of a problem? It seems to me that I end up sleeping MORE when I am over training, not less...

Karl King

Brick asked about the effect on lactate threshold, and Vida listed the technical methods for determining it.

What I notice about LT is that it moves to a slower pace, as determined by my respiration rate. When over trained, many runners will notice themselves breathing harder at a pace that should be comfortable. My experience with sleep is the same as Vida's. The other tip-off for me is that my motivation to do anything hard drops off considerably. At work, someone will come in with some big problem and I just don't give a damn. Hmmm, maybe half the world is over trained ;-). Being a non-competitive runner, I don't put in the huge training of an elite athlete, so I seldom get over trained. It does pop up when I'm doing a string of long runs in preparation for a coming ultra. Rest, and attention to getting adequate protein and carbohydrate at meal times is the cure.

Mike RS

Vida wrote:

"Also, is insomnia more of a problem? It seems to me that I end up sleeping MORE when I am over training, not less... I sleep worse. I tend to wake up more often, and my sleep is of lesser quality. I can wake up drenched, or very thirsty. And, if I have worked out hard late at night, I can stay wired for a few hours before relaxing enough to fall asleep."
It was interesting to hear you have this response to over training or training late. I too experience the exact same response.

Jay Hodde

With my job and school and running, it is hard for me to figure out if I'm over training or if I'm just dead tired from the stress of everyday life. This week has been a good example.

I've run about 50 miles in each of the previous 2 weeks. I'm at about 30 this week, but I'm dead exhausted from the effort. My average training mileage hasn't changed in over a year. Why is my body suddenly feeling so tired?

  1. My personal life has had its ups and downs.
  2. My professional life is more stressful this week than usual.
  3. My mental letdown associated with no current running goal is affecting me.
  4. My weight is up, so that makes running a bit harder.
  5. The temperature this morning was 37F. Last weekend, it was 90F by 11:00 am.

These things result in:

  1. General fatigue.
  2. Restless sleep, though I want to sleep all the time.
  3. An increased heart rate at rest.
Over training? I don't really think so. But the running coupled with everything else going on in my life gives the same type of physiological result.

Tom Hayes

I was a very competitive marathoner and triathlete for ten years or so. I found resting heart rate to be the easiest and most effective indicator of over training. It is also a good warning for incoming illness. Take your pulse every morning just before getting out of bed. Three to five beats higher could be your body's reaction to invading bugs. Five to ten beats is very likely over training. As Karl says, the AT lags over training, plus it is not very reproducible (it tends to vary just based on experimental error). I suspect this higher pulse is responsible for restless sleep.

Of course you also must realize that excessive training (vice over training) can be just as insidious and the symptoms much harder to overcome. Increasing your mileage too fast or simply doing too many long runs in a month's, or so, period can cause overuse injuries that take weeks to heal. No resting pulse or AT will warn you. The really bad news for us masters and beyond is that, as younger runners, we could tolerate more abuse.

We think we can still do it until that groin pops on an easy run or the hamstrings scream when we step over a fence. Just one of our body's little quirks to keep us excessive-compulsive types under control :-)

Bob Rayburn

Jason wrote:

"With my job and school and running, it is hard for me to figure out if I'm over training or if I'm just dead tired from the stress of everyday life. This week has been a good example."

In the replies to Brick's original posting it seems apparent that we have two fatigue situations. I would agree with Jason: I run maybe 50 a week, but also am a single father of two, and have the usual stresses of a job. I find low enthusiasm often as my lunchtime run approaches, general tiredness always, and a general lack of interest in non life-threatening household issues. However, sleep or appetite is not a problem.

This seems to contrast with the true over-training symptoms of insomnia. So maybe Brick, who states that he seems to sleep more when he is "over-training", maybe is just over tired from work/life stresses.

Norm Yarger

Tom has raised another good topic, one that eventually gets to most of us, and that is the one about age. I started running after I was 40 so I can't comment about training in my youth, but I find that I have to cut back more now that I am 58.

When I was in my 40's the hard/easy pattern 3 times per week with one day off worked well. One easy day was all I needed. I now find that I must go more toward hard/easy/easy with 2 time per week and one day off. That cuts my training back from 3 hard days per week to no more than 2 per week. If I try to push any more than that I find out that if I want to play then I'm going to pay.

Could recovery time be the most important thing causing declines with age? Does this explain why there is an age around mine where athletic ability for many takes a step function? (Going from 3X per week to 2X)

Larry Gassan

Note: These ideas came to me on a long slow uphill stretch at the Catalina 100k this past weekend. I was feeling under-my-potential, and decided that I would be quite happy to drop back and train more to race less. But there I was. When all things were considered, I'd sweat out that particular drudge-stretch and try to recoup on a more favorable stretch. I finished in 11:52/21st OA, thereabouts....

Races and training are two entirely different animals. For all those who take inordinate pride in using races as training runs... what are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to avoid?

You have a race in your sights. The training runs are to acclimate yourself to time, stress and distance. You figure out what it's going to take to fuel and hydrate yourself; keep yourself from heatstroke, blisters, frost-bite, and perhaps Chucky the Cheez-Kuttting Cougar from taking a big bite out of your tiny hiney. You will be out there a while, and if you are really smart, back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday.

Race day approaches, and you taper. Depending on the race length, it could be 1-2 weeks. Sometime prior to race day, you carbo-load by whatever strategy works for you.

Race day. The gun goes off, and out you go, full of piss and vinegar. Stuff happens, and you deal with it. You might do better or worse than anticipated.

If you have been paying attention in your previous outings, you may have improved and not made the same mistakes as before. All actions and habits have an emotional charge, and by some degree you are attached to them. The repetition of failure is an inverse success, because of it's proven reliability. This has to be figured in as well.

Eventually you cross the finish line. High-fives and what-not, no matter what your finish. You did it. The pain beins to recede in a hazy glow of glory and self-deception. Mister What-If makes his appearance.

The next several days are a phased recovery. That usually means R-E-S-T. Gotcha! But what does this all mean?

For instance, if you have races every 3 weeks, you are losing almost 2 weeks in taper and recovery. The week in-between is a skinny slice of training. Use your races as training runs, and the benefits of both are lost in a smear of mediocrity. Bad habits are ingrained, it all starts looking alike, and purpose is lost. In the end, you become a tired and injury-prone runner, and probably a real bore.

So. Understand the distinct differences between the training run and the race. Training runs are rote-work, home-work, the practice-practice-practice that enable the runner to reach beyond the ordinary in the race setting. The race is where technique can become art, because technique has become habitual and unconscious. And that is worth remembering when all is said and done.


I'm no expert, but I think everyone is different and you have to listen to what your own body says. I'm still trying to figure it out for myself. I have found that I do better if I rest on some weekends by doing 10 or 20 mile runs. I pushed myself very hard the last 3 weekends increasing each weekend, and last Sat ran from Foresthill to Last Chance and back. I was proud but tired (six canyons, 38 miles, and 11 hours), so this weekend I intend to run only a 10 miler and a 16 miler which I will run fast if I feel good. I want to run but I want to save my distance strength for the WS Mem. week-end training camp. I know I will do better if I allow myself rest. I think this might be like other physical sports, you break down muscle tissue and you need to heal. Once you heal, you are stronger and you do the same thing again getting stronger each time. You do not lose strength by allowing yourself to heal, you gain (but I know it's so hard to do!)

Fred Vance

I've found that ultras slow me down, and that it hurts to run after one. Surpise! What do we expect?

For me, I seem to have to work through a couple of weeks of slow painful running to recover. The amount of pain depends on what ultra I've just finished. What seems odd to me, is that the two weeks of recovery seems to be independent of when I start the recovery process. It takes me two weeks or running whether I rest for a month or a day after an ultra.

For that reason, I start running again as soon as possible, but I accept the fact that I have to go slow and take it easy. When I'm really beat up bad from an Ultra I sometimes can only manage to walk afterwards, but I do that anyway.

I've been running ultras for eight years, and in that time I've only stopped running once because of an injury. That was three weeks ago when I pulled a ligament two weeks after Barkley. I don't know why it happen, because I felt fully recovered. Actually, I think the problem was that I was feeling too good. I felt super-human, invincible. I think I was just running too fast.

When the sore calf muscle didn't get better during a subsequent week of running, and when my ankle began to swell and turn purple, I decided it wasn't going to get any better with running, so I stopped running completely for two weeks. Since then, I've come back strong with no pain, and amazingly, I'm starting to run faster than before Barkley.

My point is this: I expect to hurt and go slow after running an ultra, but sometimes something isn't right, and you just have to accept it and rest to heal or figure out what's wrong and correct it some other way.

My advice would be this: You have almost two weeks of not running before WS training camp. If you think that your soreness is abnormal and not something that you would normally experience after an ultra, then don't run till the training camp, and then take it very easy, concentrating on learning the course rather than conditioning yourself. Otherwise, I would get back out on the trail or road, and get moving, but slowly until I worked out the soreness.

Mike Schupp

I have had a similar experience and no matter how much I layed off or ran easy, my legs just stayed sore and stiff. The thing that made a dramatic difference for me was doing painstaking stretching along with pressure point massages. I found that my muscles were getting very tight and stiff. By doing 15-20 minute rigorous stretching in the morning and evening I felt a substantial difference within a few days. The other thing I found was that there were small pea size areas in my muscles that when pressed on were very painful. I think some people call these trigger points. Anyway, by doing some deep massage on the leg muscles it is easy to find places that are sensitive. Then apply hard pressure with my thumb or finger for about a minute. It feels like there is a knot that relaxes. A lot of soreness is relieved when I relax one of those points.

Fred Vance #2

Al wrote:

"ultras DO NOT slow you down; in the long run (bad pun) they simply make you stronger..."
I agree with you Al. The short term slow down generally lasts only a couple of weeks for me. At 2 to 3 weeks, I'm usually back up to speed and some times setting new PRs on my training runs.

It seems to be a natural pattern for me to go through cycles of slowing and recovering (often improving) in response to an ultra or an increase in training mileage or intensity.

One thing I didn't mention in my post to Steve, is that normal recovery would presume that one is getting good nutrition and adequate sleep. Also, I believe that if a person is stressed for other reasons, like job or difficulty with personal relationships, it can have a negative effect on your running performance and recovery.

And then there are people like you, Al, that overcome even diabetes to run! We are such marvelously complicated beings capable of behaving in such unpredictable and inspiring ways.


The potential end results of overtraining are too well known: physical and mental fatigue, poor performance and injury. Sometimes the best clue that we're overdoing it occurs long before the discomfort and ill health develop - you not only feel great, but experience sometimes outstanding performances.

Training involves slightly overloading the body and allowing it to rest and recover. Too much overload and/or too little rest and recovery produces overtraining. This then results in a state of physical, chemical and mental imbalance; a consequence of training beyond the body's ability to compensate for the workload(s) you've induced. This syndrome is relatively simple to diagnose, although the problem is easily overlooked. Recognizing it requires making an objective self - assessment, including a review of your training and racing schedule as well as your performance, your mental and physical state, and sometimes other factors that can be measured by a professional, such as blood pressure.

The relative ease of assessing the overtraining syndrome lends to the fact that it is easily preventable. But, most of the time, athletes wander too far into overtraining before realizing it's time to do something. An important component of exercise is to objectively measure your training direction and modify it before damage is done.

The process of overtraining, or overstimulation, is difficult to define. The physical aspects are easier to see. The muscles are either not given enough time to recover or are simply pushed beyond their abilities too often. Either situation results in dysfunction of the individual muscle - inability to work in unison with other muscles. The chemical aspect of overstimulating the nervous and hormonal systems, which, among other things, contributes to physical injuries, is a major part of the overtraining syndrome. Like any bad habit, your nerves "learn" to overtrain. And the hormonal aspect, which aids in recovery, simply becomes exhausted. As a result, even recovery from a normal workout is impaired.

Can you look at your training and predict you're headed for overtraining? Not always. There are some successful schedules that, if maintained too long would end in overtraining. Maintaining a certain part of your program for too long, such as too many long rides, may contribute to this serious syndrome. Certainly training must include intensities with enough to stress the body so that it can build itself up. But there's a limit.

In addition to time, another component of overtraining is change: the need to alter your program at regular intervals. This need arises because your body's requirements change, and you must keep up with them. So if you maintain a specific regimen - even a very successful one - for too long without appropriate changes, it may result in overtraining.

How long can you continue the same weekly schedule before risking overtraining? That depends on the person. It may take from a few months to a year or two to burn out if you keep on a schedule not tailored to your needs. During this time - a period we'll call pre-overtraining (pre-OT), you may still increase your oxygen uptake, get stronger and faster. You may lose weight and even start to feel good. So good that you're sure you're on the right track. As you progress into your pre-OT period, you start performing well. You even have a great race or two and maybe, with a little luck, a great season.

But then, as the overtraining progresses, you wake up from the dream. Your pre-OT period deteriorates to simply being overtrained. You may have a bad race. Then another and another. By now, you're more tired than ever. And if all this is accompanied by a physical injury, you're wondering where the fun has gone, or if your athletic life is over. Or worse, you ask yourself if you're too old to be doing this.

Are you overtrained? If you have to ask yourself that question, you may be. How do you know when to stop and modify your schedule? Consider these assessment tips: Objective assessment is most important. Consider using a heart monitor to measure your progress. Evaluate your running or biking speed at a specific aerobic heart rate throughout the year - perhaps every three weeks - with the MAF Test (Maximum Aerobic Function). If your pace starts to slow down, this may be the first sign that you have entered the pre-OT zone.

Keeping tabs on your morning heart rate may help. It should not increase over long periods of time. But beware: In some people, overtraining is accompanied by a lowering of the heart rate. Keep a diary. Just the act of writing down what you do - including how you feel, anything about your training, racing and life - is a good way to assess yourself. Learn to read your body. The pre-OT zone is full of subtle clues indicating that you're not going in the right direction: little physical twinges, sleep irregularity, changes in appetite, especially cravings for sugar or caffeine. Make notes about any of these hints in your diary.

Get someone with an objective eye to assist you in your training or in evaluating your schedule. Or if you know someone you have confidence in, use him/her as a coach. Get input from your spouse or significant other. The best way to handle overtraining is to avoid it. Prevention is the ideal approach.

Karl King #2

There are two types of "not in the mood": one is when you're tired from a hard day at work and need a little rest, the other is when you're on the verge of overtrained.

If the former, you'll probably feel better if you get moving after a 1/2 hour rest. If the latter, more work will just do further damage.

"Burnout", as in way too much training is a complex issue. One simple way to get out of it is rest, but if you can't stand the thought of resting for a month, then run only short distances ( 4-7 miles ) every other day. It is the long runs and/or speedwork that hammer the average runner.

If you have problems with overtraining, study periodization methods. Those will let you do the long runs that Kevin Setnes advocates while reducing the total workload, avoiding overtraining.

TJ Johnson

Jedgecomb - you mentioned 'feeling a bit burned out mentally and have had a series of physical problems' after a hard year of racing, including 1996 WS100 - definately a tough 'rookie' year. Your solution of a few low key, relatively short distance races to solve the immediate mental burnout sounds like a good one, and you are coming back since you did send in your 1997 WS application. Your decisions in the coming year regarding racing will lead you down one of the three most common paths for ultrarunners: a) continue to run many races until burnout, then leave the sport; b) slow down, continue to run many races and collect the points; or c) focus on a few important (to you) races, prepare carefully and push your limits. Personnally I have gone the 'few quality efforts' route, with reasonable success. Unless you are one of the very few who are blessed with durability and speed, capable of many quality races (Trason, Finkbeiner, Tweitmeyer & Schlereth come to mind), you get to choose quality vs. quantity. You ran some good races in 1996 - good luck in 97.

Andy Holak

In response to Dave Littlehale's post about running when not in the mood, I'd like to echo Lady G, with a little variation.

I personally believe in tuning in to how I feel, and if I don't feel like running due to the blahs, tired, or minor aches, I generally take the day off. However, when I'm really in the training mode before a race, I'll generally push myself a little more to get out and run. On these occasions, I find, as lady G does, that these are probably the times I need it most. Getting out and running when I don't feel like it usually perks me up if I'm tired, relieves my stress when I'm stressed, and overall makes me feel good! It feels much better to have tired legs and lungs than a tired mind and body.

That said, I still take days off when I'm not feeling all there, when maybe I should get out and run. I generally take two rest days per week from running, and I don't schedule them in. I usually take the rest day when I don't feel like running on that particular day. It may be the day after a hard workout, or it may be a day when I have the blahs, and it may be two days in a row. I just take the rest day when I feel like I need the rest. But, when I 've taken those two rest days, I then push myself to get out and run, even when I don't really feel like running, unless I'm injured. In the winter I don't run as often, and take more rest days. Which reminds me, I'd better start running, I've already taken 2++ rest days!! Cheers!!

John Doss

I agree. After reading everything possible on training, my philosophy has evolved from adopting all the common practices of each, and assuming the unique aspects of each are individulal preference.

My conclusions are, training consist of quality workouts and garbage workout. The quality is that makes the athelete. The qarbage workouts are optional, depending on your mood of the day. My personal guidelines are 4 good workouts a week (however lately I've been very bad), and 3 workouts that could be biking, swimming, aerobics, or rest. As Jason indicate, I to get a lot of value out of rest.

This philosophy has, I believe, helped extend my running health.

Rich Schick

I have been running ultras since 1979 and have averaged 8-10 a year over that time span. Prior to doing ultras I had been marathoning since 72 ( I think, it gets fuzzy) at about the same frequency . I have seen a lot of runners come and go in the sport. Some of these I found quite understandable, they were front runners who I felt probably enjoyed winning for the most part rather than the running itself. When age slowed them they quit altogether. Others succumbed to injury, others just faded away.

I would like to share my views on how to avoid becoming an ex-ultra runner and invite others out there with ten or more years of frequent ultras to share theirs. ( I know Ray K is out there and I think Frozen Ed fits the bill) My object in this exercise is to maybe learn something myself and hopefully to help others to stay in the sport and become ultra runners in both distance and longevity in the sport.

My first rule is not to make every race a hard effort, some dude named Pavlov figured out that even a dog would be bright enough to quit doing something he would normally enjoy if you beat him over the head every time he did it.

Rest is important, I don't run a step two days a week, also helps with my next point.

Don't allow running to become a negative addiction. Allow personal and professional needs to take precedence over racing and training. This can be taken to extremes like anything but is an important principle. If you fail to heed it your life will be full of turmoil and in the long run your running will fall apart. Not a lot different than drugs and alcohol.

Don't let illness and injury get you down and don't listen to physicians who say you will never run an ultra or run at all for that matter. They are basing their judgment on the average American who would never have the drive to run an ultra in the first place. Over the years I have broken both feet and my back on separate occasions. Each of these injuries led well meaning medical professionals to predict that I would never do another ultra. With patience and persistence most injuries can be overcome. I get a kick out of the physicians who say ? If you keep on running this might get worse and you won't be able to run. - now let's see if I keep running worst case is I can't run, If I quit running now I already have accepted the worst case !!

Think about the inevitable slow down long before it happens. With age we will all lose speed, there's no beating it. It will hit some sooner than other, but just like death its going to get us all. Don't fear it or dread it. Be philosophical you can enjoy the scenery more, tell more war stories, Grin at the youngins who went out to fast and dropped etc. If you expect it and prepare for it well, it can't hurt you.

Take an eastern view of ultras if not of life. We are taught that everything should be perfect or something is wrong. They are taught that adversity is the normal state and that prosperity is always short lived and should be savored as it will soon end.

Well for what its worth I hope someone finds something there that might slow the exodus from our ranks of experienced ultra runners.

Chip Marz

I have to agree with what Rich says. Although my ultra career at 10 yrs is not as long as his or K's, I do consider myself as having achieved longevity.

Much of what Rich says is what I would call the "means to the end" of longevity. I think the whole thing begins, however, with an attitude, or approach to running. I have long considered running as a lifetime sport, and recognized that no one race is worth significant injury, and have either passed completely, DNFed, or just slowed down rather than get hurt. I have seen many "shooting stars," those who come in with a blaze of glory and go out as quickly. Ya gotta be thinking about the long term...if that's what Ya want!

Other factors, for me, have to do with the type of training and amount that I do. I have never really been "injured," and when asked, teasingly say that I never run fast enough or with such high weekly mileage as to get injured. Yet I believe that is also true! I never do speed work, hence my poor finish times, but I (almost) always finish. I don't put in mega miles, but have consistently averaged around 30-34 miles/week. Now, I now that pace and what constitutes "mega" miles varies from individual to individual. So there will certainly be a range of what folks consider reasonable pace and mileage. But my point is that for most of us, we can't maintain high intensity rear round, year after year. We all have our limits as to how much/fast is enough. Even Joe Schlereth...he just has a much higher tolerance level than me (and most others!!).

Opinions, Ya gotta love em!!

"Frozen" Ed Furtaw

I'd like to comment on Rich Schick's most interesting post on ultrarunning longevity. I've started 63 (finished 54) ultras in the past 13.2 years. That may be relative longevity, but it doesn't really seem that long because "time flies when you're having fun". I think that the "fun" approach or attitude is my key to staying with the sport over numerous years.

Ultrarunning can be a very demanding pastime. The time spent training and Traveling, the costs of shoes, clothes, equipment, travel, and entry fees, the wear and tear on the body, the inevitable occasional injuries and pain, and the risk of too much time away from family and other parts of life, are all part of the price we pay to train for and run ultras. In order to want to keep paying that price, we must get something pretty valuable from it. My rewards are the pleasure of running itself, the appreciation of traversing beautiful countryside either in solitude or the company of a few like-minded friends, a feeling of good health, and a sense of self-empowerment in seeing that I can do what few people can even imagine. Competitive interests are also a part of the fun, but not the strongest part, and I can feel that part becoming less important as I get older.

For me, a turning point in my ultrarunning career probably came in '86 when I had trained to the highest level in my life (50-60 miles per week) in preparation for my first 100-mile attempt, Old Dominion. But I had run myself into a rather severe heel-spur syndrome (for the second time), and ended up DNFing OD because of the heel pain. After that, I realized that I had to keep my training mileage lower, and I really didn't know if it was even possible to run ultras on 30 miles per week or less. But I decided to try, and found that I could. I ran nine ultras in the next year, culminating with winning the Southern Ultra Grand Prix and finishing OD in '87. This was pretty convincing proof to myself that I could run all the ultras I wanted to on low training mileage. Basically, the time and cost of travel to events (and ungodly early morning starts) are the main factors limiting me to an average of four ultras per year for the past five years. These factors are a significant part of my motivation to host several low-key trail ultras in my home area in the past three years.

Since 1985, I have run anywhere from two to nine ultras per year. The variability itself is indicative of a rising and falling of motivation and how busy I am with other pursuits. It is important to me to feel that running is in balance with all the other activities and interests in my life. I went through a mild case of ultra burnout in late '92, but I didn't stop running ultras, I just stopped doing those that I couldn't finish under about 14 hours. By '95, I was ready for more of the longer stuff, and resumed running my favorite, the Barkley Marathons, and then completed my fifth 100-mile trail race (Arkansas Traveler) last year.

I think the low mileage induced by my heel spurs is a major factor in my relative longevity in the sport. But most important, I believe, is the fun I experience while doing the actual ultras. I certainly hope to be able to continue to run ultras for many more decades. When I see people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s running ultras, I am inspired and encouraged to believe that I can continue to run them for as long as I want to.

Another aspect of my longevity in the sport is the support and encouragement I receive from my wife Gail. There is almost no doubt that without that support, I wouldn't have run as many ultras as I have.

I really enjoy seeing old friends at ultras, and that's another motivation for continuing in the sport. That's one of my strong incentives to go to Barkley repeatedly. So the longevity of others in the sport is important to me too. For example, I've known Rich Schick since about 1987, although we haven't seen each other in person for about five years. But I still feel the friendship when I read his posts. So, Rich, thanks for bringing up this subject of longevity. Now if we can just get Ray K to stop running long enough and write to us, maybe we'll hear about longevity from a real expert!

Payton Robinson

Norm Yarger wrote:

"Guess I'll put in my 2 cents worth here on this one. For many, training is a means to an end. The end is an award or other such goal. The question then becomes: Is the means justified by the end? For the rest of us the means is a big part of the end. The training is >where it's at. If you enjoy your weekly runs, then you accomplish an end each time you go out. Can't get a better motivator than that!
Reminds me of something I read about running. How people will run to get in shape, or to win a race, or set a PR, whatever, and that is a goal for running. But those folks will often quit running when the goal is reached or it becomes too much work. There needs to be a sense of purpose beyond the goal -- a reason why run. The why, like Norm says, is in the enjoyment of the training. Just because it feels good, and it's fun.

Gene Thibeault

I'll add my two cents to this topic, just because I agree with most of what has been said. I have been running since 1978 and have run about 70 ultras. I do sometimes train at a level of 70 - 80 miles per week, but average about 50 per week for the year. This means that I take some time off where I may run 20 or 30 miles. I make it a habit to take at least two days off per week. Rest is necessary for longevity! More importantly the means do justify the ends. Sat AMs are special. We in the Auburn CA area are blessed with tolerable weather year round and one of the finest trail systems in the country. (we are always fighting to keep them that way too). More importantly we have lots of ultrarunners of various paces to share the experiences with. I don't go to bars, play poker with the boys, etc..., but our longs runs are the social gathering of the week. We sing, talk, laugh, joke, as well as run. It's what we do, it's who we are. No rules, limits, or interference. That is what has kept me going for almost 20 years. The races are just the icing on the cake.