Wow! This is tough for anybody who races ultras year round? Currently, I am training for my fourth 100+ mile race this year and my sixth race of the year. So, how do you stay motivated to train when your body isn't really recovered and your legs aren't fresh. Well, there are a few things that work for me and maybe one or more of these will work for you.
1.) Don't train alone.
I find it easier to train if you are training with someone else, at least part of the time. This will get you out of bed when everything inside of you wants to stay in bed. And if you can train with someone who "is" motivated that is a double bonus. Some of that excitement MIGHT:) rub off on you.
Changing up training routes and even the types of races can make it seem new and less monotonous. If you have been doing a lot of road races, throw in a trail race and vis versa. Moreover, mixing up the race distances can trick the mind and body into thinking you are dong something totally different. Additionally, incorporating some barefoot grass running helps you work on good running form that may have been changed during your long season and it again provides more variety to the types of workouts you do.
3.) Leave the watch at home.
Leaving the watch at home can relieve some of the stress from training. With running so many races the legs will slow and take a while to recover and feel new again. In turn, the times on your training runs will generally be slower than earlier in the year. The important thing to do is to just spin the wheels and focus on effort and not times. When you are going out for a recovery run....speed is not important, so leave the watch at home. Run a route that you are familiar with, so you know you are getting the distance needed and forget about the time.
4.) Mix in slow days with hard efforts.
This is a good training tip in general. For instance, this past Sunday I completed a sixteen mile run with a friend of mine. We did this on a eight mile out and back that we completed twice. We ran the first four miles comfortably and the four miles back to the cars uncomfortably. I knew with it only being two weeks post Western States that this type of workout tax my body. So, I spent the next two days recovering. That meant....spinning the wheels and making sure each of these two runs were easy efforts, then I could push it a little bit on Wednesday. I find that the body needs more recovery days as you get later into the race season, but that doesn't mean days off.
5.) Destination Race/Local Race
I guess the common theme is "change your routine." If you have been generally racing highly competitive races, it is nice to do a low key local race. Sometimes this will relieve the stress that often is the culprit of "burnout." For example, after running Western States in 2005-2007, I followed those races with the Rio Del Lago 100 mile race in the fall. RDL had more of a family relaxed atmosphere. My family could see me every five miles and I didn't feel like I was mentally grinding all day like I would in a highly competitive field like Western States. And as an added bonus, it is easier to get to know other runners in the race and that always helps me get a better perspective on why I do this crazy thing called ultra running:)
Well, I hope these tips help you as much as they help me.