The 8th of December 2016 started like any other: I woke up at the break of dawn to go to work. But it turned out to be quite a different day.
As usual I arrived at the office at 8 AM and by 10.30 AM I was home again. I had been commuting to Amsterdam for months - and it's been breaking my mind down piece by piece. I had been noticing this trend and so did my wife. I had been angry, irrational - nothing like myself at all.
The diagnosis was severe burn-out. I was forced to take a break from everything. I had lost all confidence in my brain and body. Everything felt like it would be too much to handle. I was scared I'd burst out in anger again if I'd put a little more stress on myself. The only thing I could do was sit still and hope for the best. I went from active and confident to passive and reclusive.
Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations
It's been 641 days and I finally have my confidence back. Last week, I started running again. I wish I did way earlier.
When in a burn-out everyone will start telling you to exercise, be that cycling, weight lifting, anything. Of course that's easier said than done when you've lost all confidence in your physical abilities.
If you're experiencing burn-out right now, I would implore you to at least get out there. Because despite what you might think of your body right now, it will handle exercise like a champ. Your body will love you for putting it through everything you throw at it.
I've compiled a list of tips to help you get back into the game.
Don't hold yourself to a schedule
When you're just starting out it's easy to ask yourself "what if...". Don't overthink any of it, just go out and do what feels right.
Try to start running for 1 minute and walk 1 minute after. Repeat this until you can't go any further anymore. The next time you go out try 2 minutes. When you're comfortable at a certain pace, try doing the same distance but faster.
You absolutely don't need a training schedule. In my opinion, not making your schedule just causes stress. Avoid it by not having one.
Set a single goal
Different people run for different reasons: losing weight, clearing your head, maybe a 10K. Think about what you want to achieve with your running and work towards that single goal. Don't set the bar too high for yourself because this will lead to disappointment and stress. Start small and work your way up from there.
I used to obsess over phone cases, running apps and playlists. I hoped technology would make running easier or more enjoyable. It did the exact opposite. I was spending more time obsessing than actually running.
Now all I take with me is my Apple Watch and AirPods. It's nice not having a lot of complex things to carry and manage. The Apple Watch handles tracking my workout and provides a nice playlist from Apple Music. I got rid of all distractions so I can focus 100% on my run.
Just do it.