Monday, May 24, 2010

Low on Matches

I’m burning out.

Well, technically, it’s not burnout – that’s a step beyond this. I guess they call this “over-reaching.” My legs are heavy. My motivation is low. I think about riding and I get that “Ugh” reaction, instead of my usual charge of energy.

It’s only my third year in the sport, but I’ve already been through this a few times. (In fact, I had a terrible case of overtraining a year and a half ago, and wrote a post about how to avoid it.) I’ve learned that the problem is equal parts physical and mental. I’ve been training for months for a goal event coming one week from today, and I’ve tapped both sides pretty deeply.

Physically, I’ve increased my distance and altitude numbers very dramatically in the last three or four weeks. I mostly enjoyed it, but then I went for a shorter, taper-style ride this weekend, and I felt like dirt. I practically fell asleep on the bike during the second half of the route. I’ve also had a resurgence of chondromalacia in the last week, probably related to the spike in intensity and duration. Finally, let's not forget that Mrs. V. and I also bought and moved into our first house last month. All life stressors are training stressors at some level.

Mentally, a different story. This is the first year I’ve been healthy this far into the spring, that I’ve been able to ride whenever I saw fit. Part of that is due to my more thorough winter training, a lot of time on rollers, on elliptical machines and in the squat rack, stretching, watching diet like a hawk, etc. I was determined to build up steadily this year, and I did well at that.

What I didn’t expect was to feel so unexcited just as the weather started to turn warm and sunny. The idea was to hit the spring hard. But here I am, fuzzy-headed in the mornings, only slightly interested in the Giro d’Italia (which is my favorite grand tour), and so on. I’ve been training scrupulously for five months, and my body and mind say I’m done, and done now. I’m going to have to find a way to fire them up for Memorial Day. It isn’t a race, but it’s a harder ride than I’ve ever done, and I want to enjoy it.

Then I'll rest, take some time off the bike, detrain a little, let my systems re-set. I always, without fail, worry about the fitness I'll lose -- fitness I paid for with precious hours and energy. And, without fail, I come back stronger and more excited than ever. Maybe not right away, but sooner than I think I will.

When I do, I'll settle on my next goal, to fire me up for the middle of the season.


Suitcase of Courage said...

"All life stressors are training stressors at some level."

VERY wise words, for sure.

And you're not alone. I'm feeling a bit the same. But, I *do* find that if I decide not to ride, I regret it deeply. Especially days like yesterday which were SO beautiful.

Perhaps the best anitidote is to resolve to stay completely off the bike for, say, a week. When I'm feeling unmotivated, a forced hiatus has ALWAYS given me a recharged motivation to ride.

You've done the training. You won't lose fitness. In fact, if you really want to enjoy your Memorial Day ride, staying off the bike until then will likely be just what you need. 'course, I'd do at least an easy spin or two (30min on the rollers?) a couple days before, so your legs are used to moving.

But other than that, you should be set. Enjoy your event!

Velosopher said...

Thanks SoC. Your words are wise, as well, and what I need to hear.

I agree about the hiatus -- just nervous-making. I went pretty light last week, too. But I'll try to be good. Hard not to push it, just to see how I'm doing, but that might dig a deeper hole.

I heard a famous racer once say he would rather be undertrained and mentally/physically fresh than in his peak and feeling dull. Guess I'll have to trust that!