How do you deal with being burned out when you can’t take a break? We only have one race left but it’s not for another couple of weeks and I can’t bail on my boat because 1. WTF bailing on your coaches/teammates isn’t an option and 2. we don’t have any suitable alternates. I love rowing I’ve just been going nonstop for so many months that I physically and mentally need a hiatus. Is it just a “suck it up” type deal or a mental block that I can bypass?
I think it’s both – if you know you can’t take time off and there’s no one suitable to replace you then your only option is pretty much to just grit your teeth and HTFU. I think it’s also something you can … maybe not bypass completely but something you can at least work towards coping with, if that makes sense.
From my experience, the best thing you can do is tell your teammates. There’s four or eight other people in the boat with you and they all, theoretically, have your back. If you’re getting to the point of being over it to the max, tell them that you need some encouragement or a rousing pep talk or something to help you get your head back in the game. A couple of us did that my junior year and it resulted in all of us going on an impromptu trip to get slushies after practice and have a major bitch fest about pretty much everything we all had going on. (If I remember correctly, we were there when they closed which meant we sat there for probably close to five hours.) I think unbeknownst to each other, to varying extents we were all burned out on crew, school, college stuff, the SATs/ACTs, etc. and the thing we all really needed (in addition to getting away from the boathouse for a bit) was to know that we weren’t the only ones feeling like that. For the next two weeks or so, even though we were all scattered amongst the 1V, 2V, and lightweight 8+, we were able to give each other quick words of encouragement on the dock, in between pieces, etc. Not only did it help us stay focused but it also helped push us through that mental block, even if it was only for 2-3 hours a day for the last couple weeks of the season.
This was one of the moments where I really appreciated my teammates because I remember a couple of them saying things that I absolutely needed to hear … I just didn’t know it until they said it. We all admitted to not wanting to say anything to anyone because we didn’t want to be that person that seems like they’re not fully invested in the boat but it ended up being really good that we did. Like I said, your teammates should have your back and they should be supportive of you through good times and bad so hopefully if you bring this up with them they can give you some words of advice that’ll help you get through the next couple of weeks before your race.
If all of that isn’t an option, do your absolute BEST to only think about crew when you’re at crew. When you’re at home, at school, eating lunch, on the drive to the boathouse, walking through Target, etc. keep your thoughts on anything but rowing. Let your friends and family know that too and ask them to respect the fact that you’re feeling kinda burned out and only want to talk about/deal with crew between the hours of 3-5pm when you’re at practice. When you’re there, then like I said early, grit your teeth and suck it up for those couple of hours and then as soon as leave turn the crew part of your brain OFF.