Training is not black or white. It does not translate into 'win or lose'. You are not expected to 'go all out or do nothing'. If your training is beginning to resemble this, then that once enjoyable activity which used to offer stress relief now itself becomes a source of stress. And that stress will eventually trigger burnout.
Ask yourself: Why are you training?
Is it to escape from other life issues? To escape stress?
Are you chasing high goals that ultimately do not give you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you reach them?
Do you impose rigidity on yourself unnecessarily, such as training in bad weather or when you are not feeling well?
Are you allowing yourself to vary your workouts or are you continuing with the same thing, all the time?
Does your race suddenly not feel FUN anymore, but rather like a highly competitive endeavor (against yourself or others) riddled with self- criticism and intolerance?
Find the fun again!
Go back to your original reasons for training and remember what it felt like when you enjoyed it. What did you do differently that seems to have dissipated?
Examine if you have a healthy 'life balance', checking that you are also scheduling in time with friends and loved ones, time to get all of your work done, time for chores, learning, and enjoyable outings for yourself? If you are only training and much of these other things are neglected, you'll have to do something about your getting your life back in balance. Only with a life in balance will you have the required strength and positive, healthy attitude to properly tackle your training.
What other ways do you use to counter stress? Training is not the only answer. You should develop other coping skills so that your training does not become your martyr when it begins to wane but the stress does not.
Bathe yourself in relaxation and recovery! Down-time is essential for a strong body to develop. Do not place yourself in 'exhaustion' or 'depletion' mode, both of which will undo all the effects of training anyway.
Train SMART! Listen to your body, your daily life's requirements, and your inner feelings. You are not a machine with a service maintenance guarantee.
Recognize signs of burnout. Four main warning signs leading to burnout from overtraining form the acronym "H.A.L.T.". HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. If any of these apply to you, go back to your instructions above and make sure you steer yourself along the right path.
Anna Weltman -- October 2012