The Burnout Blues: How Breaks Can Re-Inspire Athletes


Professional athletes generally commit to an intense and lengthy competitive season, then they take some rest time to recover both physically and mentally. Some athletes use that time to assess their goals moving forward, and others might just need a cocktail and some palm trees to indulge their carefree side. Regardless of how they spend their time away from the sport, it can contribute to a new sense of inspiration when they return. CrossFit, although not a professional sport for the vast majority, does require a commitment to intensity and hard work. And occasionally athletes might find themselves going through the motions with a lackluster desire to push. In these times of deflated motivation, sometimes, stepping away is the answer.


Your physical and mental health tend to go hand-in-hand when it comes to performance. When one suffers, it can easily take a toll on the other. So whether your head just isn’t in the game, or your body isn’t giving you the results you want, the negative impact can be all encompassing. The feeling that you’d rather stick your pinky in a meat-grinder than finish Fran, harbors negativity like a festering wound. And sometimes, it can be contagious. The weight of frustration may best be worked out with a rest and recovery period of time. And I’m not talking about your 1–2 days of rest each week. To have an impact, what you need might be a more significant time period. And that’s ok! Determine the duration and stick to it.

While you’re away, use your time wisely...and by wisely I mean to do whatever you want. You may initially yearn for the sweaty smell of the box as you sift through Facebook posts about PRs, but after a couple days you might just embrace your new lackadaisical lifestyle (although not for the long-haul). If you’re like me, you’ll fill your free time with borderline-OCD cleaning, and buying new gear for your triumphant return to the gym. De-clutter your life so there are no excuses when the time comes to start back up. And don’t forget to eat some things generally shunned by the CrossFit community (I suggest sweet white wine, Velveeta, and York Peppermint Patties — but not necessarily together), knowing they won’t have an immediately affect on the following days workout. Take a full week off, or hell, even a full month, to determine what your new goals might be when you’re ready to ramp back up.

The time will arrive when you’re fully prepared to get back at it. Your body will ache for some pain, and your mind will crave endless rep counting. Discovering a new-found fervor will give you what you need to dive back into things with the motivation you lacked in days before your break. Keep in mind that initially you may experience an “Oh sh*t, maybe I’d rather be on my couch” kind of feeling, but you’ll quickly catch up. Stay focused on those goals you set, and consider your season started. Recommit yourself to the sport of CrossFit and allow your rest to re-inspire you.

We can’t all expect to participate in a lifetime of serious sport participation. There are those people in the world that simply will not rest (my husband being one of them), but the more sane people of the CrossFit family will need a little off-season every now and again to regain their vigor. Shame should never be associated with an individuals attempt at revitalizing their mind and body. So after a long stretch of working out, and a nagging lack of passion, acknowledge your burnout blues with a healthy hiatus. It might be just what you need to get where you want to be.

Abi Reiland
Co-Owner / Trainer, CrossFit 8035