Are you struggling from a mid-season slump?
You’re sitting on the couch in your riding kit, staring at your bike, waiting for that moment where the motivation to jump on your bike will help you get out there. You're confused and starting to feel frustrated, since you just had a rest day and there's no reason to feel this feel tired. You finally force yourself out the door and all you can think about is finding a soft spot along the trail or road where you can take a nap. You complete your intervals and become even more disappointed in yourself. You suffered out there and your training sucked. Before you start planning your retirement from bike riding or racing, take a step back and realize—you might just be tired! Every cyclist struggles with overtraining and motivation, and a break mid-season might be what you need to regain your love for riding.
Life, in addition to training, accumulates fatigue. We look back at our training calendar for answers, but sometimes exhaustion doesn't make sense. Our days off might not be very restful because we are catching up on yardwork or putting in extra hours at work. We forget about the additional stress to complete workouts, travel to races, and maintain a career and family. All of these factors need to be considered when looking back through your calendar. It is almost impossible to pinpoint that one workout that put you over the edge. Regardless of what makes sense, we need to recognize our feelings of tiredness, honor it, and take a mental and/or physical break from our mundane training.
Take Time Away
Many of us feel like we're are never doing enough training until it’s too late. Rest makes us stronger! I remember scoffing at other athletes who took a two week break every June/July. I never felt I could afford such luxury. I needed to work harder to be better than my competitors. July would roll around and my motivation would be at an all-time low. I found my insecurities and sense of urgency were causing me to dig myself into a deeper hole. After years of the same pattern, I forced myself to rest when I noticed a few days of lethargy. If I didn’t come back stronger and ready for training, I would take a few more days off. Every professional bike racer takes time away during the season to rest up, have fun with friends, and regain their excitement to ride again. You should too!
Learn from Your Mistakes
Look back through your riding calendar and remember that time when you started to feel a little tired and pushed through it. Or you had a crazy stressful week at work and still completed your full training schedule. Maybe you should have added an additional rest day or two during that week. If you know that you normally have a hard time with motivation during a certain time frame, make sure to incorporate a planned rest week or two and don’t even think about riding bikes.
Visit New Trails or Old Favorites
Riding the same trails every week can get boring and also cause you to lose ambition. When I start dreading climbs and trails near home, it’s time to head to the mountains to explore new areas or ride some of my old favorites. I usually forget about the drudgery of training and become excited by a fun section of trail that made me giggle last time. You’ll be reminded of how fun mountain biking is and why we started riding in the first place.
Ride with Friends
Put away the heart rate and powermeter. Stop analyzing those numbers! Don’t stress about intensity of your rides, feel human again, and enjoy riding with friends who make you laugh and feel good about yourself.
Do Other Hobbies
Between training and work there usually isn’t much time for anything else. During my mid-season break, I love getting back on my dirt bike and hitting a few yoga classes. It takes my mind away from cycling and puts me in my happy place. Pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one you haven’t done in the past few months.