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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 03-23-06, 10:49 AM   #1
chancho
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How to avoid mental fatigue?

Does anyone else here have trouble with mental fatigue during medium-length to long rides? I find that often times when I ride, if I stop for even a few minutes I suddenly feel depressed and don't want to continue. Sometimes this makes it hard to focus while riding. This happens both when riding alone and with a group. It seems like this fatigue often sets in when my body feels fine and I have plenty of energy left in my legs. If I go out a long distance and have to come back, the mental fatigue will hit me as soon as I stop at my turn-around point, so I feel like it may have something to do with my adrenaline level dropping.

Any ideas on how to avoid this? I'm pretty diligent about eating to avoid bonking, so I can't figure out what else I can do.

Thanks!
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Old 03-23-06, 11:11 AM   #2
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I wonder if you could avoid stopping? I used to stop and experienced the same thing. Now, I allow myself to slow down . . . even way down . . . to eat, drink, sit up, stretch etc., and then I'm ready to go fast again after a couple of minutes of coasting. The trick for me is not to get off the bike, the elliptical, the track, etc.

Positive self-talk is also helpful . . . 'you're doing so well, you always feel this way right before the adrenaline kicks in again' etc.

Good luck.
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Old 03-23-06, 11:15 AM   #3
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yeah, i get this too. it's a very real training problem. i call it the bad attitude and i get kinda mad and just want the ride to end. i hate when i get like this.

a few things that might help: have a couple of destinations in mind for your longer rides. i like to ride near the water, so i try to save that for the last part of my ride when i'm really tired. it makes me feel a little better. instead of out and back, you could maybe add a point inbetween that you'd like to go to.

ride much slower for the first half. treat it like a warm up almost, then hopefully, you'll be itching for some speed on the way back and it'll be more enjoyable having an abdunance of energy.

shorten the rides - your body may be ready, but you're mentally not there yet. try ending a ride with the attitute that "i could have ridden longer". it'll make you look forward to your next ride.
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Old 03-23-06, 11:23 AM   #4
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I would get this on longer rides that would incorporate much of the same route back home. The first half is "fun", as you're off exploring and what not, but then you reach the turnaround point, and well.....it's not nearly as much fun.

If you're heading to a particular destination, try choosing a different route to make it more of a loop instead of an out-and-back ride. Out-and-back rides are mentally more anguishing for some people.
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Old 03-23-06, 11:35 AM   #5
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I had figured out the out-and-back thing, so yesterday I did a one-way ride out to Long Island and took the train back. LI can be a bit monotonous, though, which may explain why I wasn't feeling great yesterday.
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Old 03-23-06, 11:50 AM   #6
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start eating 1 banana per hour when you ride. then see if that helps.

really...just try it. bananas work wonders for the mind as well
as muscles
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Old 03-23-06, 11:56 AM   #7
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Going to try the banana thing, thanks Edzo!
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Old 03-23-06, 12:36 PM   #8
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You don't say how long you consider a "long ride" to be. However...

If you experience this effect after a couple hours of riding, then it is possible that you are bonking. Cyclists typically burn about 500-1000 calories per hour. Depending on your exertion level, half of this may be from glycogen/glocose. So, unless you are eating a lot, it is possible you are bonking. A bonk will definitely affect your motivation to continue, even if your legs do not feel tired.

Otherwise, it sounds like you have some motivation issues. Are your rides interesting to you? If you are riding the same route time after time, you may be bored with the scenery (assuming there is any to begin with). If so, then the obvious solution is to find better routes.

Are you suffering from lack of sleep? Sleep debt builds over time if you don't get a couple nights of good rest.
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Old 03-23-06, 12:59 PM   #9
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1) What is a medium to long ride?

2) How do you define "eating diligently"?


I do long rides .... centuries, double centuries, and longer ... and I can say that only once have I ever experienced serious mental fatigue. That was during the Last Chance 1200K - 1200 kms (750 miles), with a 90 hour time limit, riding day and night, through the most barren terrain of Colorado and Kansas. I reached a point on the second day of that ride where I felt like my brain was going to crawl out of my head and run screaming away across the fields, and I really struggled with continuing. Other than that, I rarely experience any sort of mental fatigue.

Some things that may help:

- eating 250 calories per hour while you are out there, and possibly some more when you stop to take a break. If your calories are depleted, one of the early signs of bonking is mental difficulties

- drinking about one 750 ml bottle of water and/or sports drink every 1 to 1.5 hours while you are out there. Dehydration can make you feel tired.

- vary your routes. I know for me, if I ride the same route all the time, I get very bored. During the summer I do a long ride pretty much every weekend. To keep it interesting, I look at the map and think, "Where do I want to go this weekend?" and then one weekend I'll head north, the next I might head south, the next east, and so on. When I can I will also travel to other parts of the province, country, and world to cycle.

- use loop routes. If you are daunted by the idea of returning on the same route you just rode, plan a looped route so that you don't ride on the same road twice during your ride. That way you see something different the whole way around.

- think! This is something I do a lot of when I'm out there. I think about the houses and farms I pass. If I go by an old homestead, I think about what life was like way back then, and why they picked that spot to build the homestead and so on. I've redesigned many, many barns and other structures into residental houses with different room configurations ... and I've gone so far as to decorate them and everything. If I'm struggling a bit, I try to think of all the words to various songs ... The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of my favorites because it is long! I count and calculate. I'll count various things along the road. Or I break the total distance of my ride down into fractions: halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc., and then I might also do various calculations with those numbers. I'll think about what I want to be doing in 5 years time ... or what I would do if I won a million dollars ... or whatever. I can get lost in thought and before I know it, I've covered 20 or 30 kms!
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Old 03-23-06, 01:39 PM   #10
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I had that problem on my first century for this year a couple of weeks ago. About mile 65 or 70, my butt started hurting and I started focusing on the pain. I stopped at a couple of rest stops and considered getting a ride in the sag.

But I was riding with a friend that is in his late 60 early 70s, and I'm at least a couple decades younger so figured I better do it. I also felt bad about making him finish the ride by himself.

The moral of the story is that we finished the ride. The pain actually subsided a bit at about 80 miles and I really enjoyed the rest of the ride. In fact, I felt really good when I finished, like I could have kept riding.

Sometimes, you just have to turn the brain off. You can be your own worst enemy.

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Old 03-23-06, 01:42 PM   #11
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As an example, last week I went on a ride to a section of NJ I had never been to before, it was a beautiful route, not too difficult, good company, stopped at a diner at about mile 30 and didn't feel right for the rest of the day.

Last year on the five-boro bike tour (40 slow miles) I had the same thing afterwards.

In general I force myself to eat a granola bar or something every 90 minutes or so, even when I'm not hungry, but the thought of eating more is repulsive.
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Old 03-23-06, 02:09 PM   #12
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Ok nobody mentioned tryptophan yet so I will shoot. Basically, the amino acids' levels rise during exercise, due to protein breakdown. It then enters the brain making you FEEL tired. It is sometimes called the sandman amino. Popping some BCAA might help in that BCAAs and tryptophan compete for the same biochemical pathways.

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0336.htm
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Old 03-23-06, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chancho
As an example, last week I went on a ride to a section of NJ I had never been to before, it was a beautiful route, not too difficult, good company, stopped at a diner at about mile 30 and didn't feel right for the rest of the day.

Last year on the five-boro bike tour (40 slow miles) I had the same thing afterwards.

In general I force myself to eat a granola bar or something every 90 minutes or so, even when I'm not hungry, but the thought of eating more is repulsive.
Sounds to me like you are NOT eating enough. A granola bar is only about 100 calories. 100 calories every 90 minutes isn't adequate.

You can train yourself to eat more ... start by realizing that you don't have to eat the whole granola bar at one time. Try this ... about 15 minutes into the ride, take a bite of your granola bar - just one bite. About 10 minutes later, take another bite. About 10 minutes later, take another bite. Start in on the next granola bar 10 minute after you've finished the first.

You might also consider using something with more calories than a granola bar, like an energy bar. They've usually got about 250 calories, and if you can make your way through one of those an hour, you should be good.

I use a Bento bag to help me with the nibbling. I keep two energy bars in it, and it is really easy to eat then when they are in the Bento bag right in front of me.
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Old 03-23-06, 06:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Sounds to me like you are NOT eating enough. A granola bar is only about 100 calories. 100 calories every 90 minutes isn't adequate.
+1

I posted this article in another thread and it helped me with nutrition on longer rides:

http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/calories.html

One other thing to consider is to simply make sure you enjoy the ride. I have a habit of burying my head down and grinding out the miles. This can get boring. Make sure you set your hand on the hoods every now and again, sit up high, take a good deep breath and just enjoy scenery.
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Old 03-23-06, 10:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
1)
- think! This is something I do a lot of when I'm out there. I think about the houses and farms I pass. If I go by an old homestead, I think about what life was like way back then, and why they picked that spot to build the homestead and so on. I've redesigned many, many barns and other structures into residental houses with different room configurations ... and I've gone so far as to decorate them and everything. If I'm struggling a bit, I try to think of all the words to various songs ... The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of my favorites because it is long! I count and calculate. I'll count various things along the road. Or I break the total distance of my ride down into fractions: halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc., and then I might also do various calculations with those numbers. I'll think about what I want to be doing in 5 years time ... or what I would do if I won a million dollars ... or whatever. I can get lost in thought and before I know it, I've covered 20 or 30 kms!

I'm using all of those tomorrow morning.
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Old 03-24-06, 12:11 AM   #16
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Ipod
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Old 03-24-06, 12:53 AM   #17
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If nothing else works I'm saying to myself that I'm quitting what I'm doing (riding, swimming, working etc.) ... in 5 minutes. And then another 5 minutes, and another, until it is done or it is no longer just mental fatigue and I'm just unable to move.
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Old 03-24-06, 10:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue_nose
+1

I posted this article in another thread and it helped me with nutrition on longer rides:

http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/calories.html
Very interesting article, thanks!
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Old 03-24-06, 10:50 AM   #19
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leave cellphone at home and ride rural desolate areas you will get home.

Im not teasing, I pretend that I have no way back. I rode 35 last week and 20 miles in, I bonked out mentally, to the point of calling my wife. Out of pride ( I was alone) I sit on the front porch of a now closed old country store for 20 minutes.

I made it home, I didnt eat enough or drink enough. Now, even in my shape, I eat something, even its a 20 miler. Gatorade and a bananna at least.

Everyone has your problem, just get through it, it will feel like a victory when you roll back into the driveway.

Good Luck
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I don't like any other exercise or sports, really.
....

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Old 03-24-06, 10:53 AM   #20
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Edit***

The quote "even in my shape" made it sound like I was a superior athelete. Im 5'10" 194 pounds and out of shape but Im cranking out a hundred a week.

Sry if I mislead

go gettum
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I don't like any other exercise or sports, really.
....

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Old 03-24-06, 01:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chancho
It seems like this fatigue often sets in when my body feels fine and I have plenty of energy left in my legs. If I go out a long distance and have to come back, the mental fatigue will hit me as soon as I stop at my turn-around point, so I feel like it may have something to do with my adrenaline level dropping.
Yes, I have this too! I did a couple of tours last summer, and had those problems both times - just didn't feel like biking on the way back. I haven't figured out a solution for this yet. Maybe I'll try taking different routes back, that have something interesting about them, like the scenery...
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Old 03-24-06, 02:36 PM   #22
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caffeine... triple-shot espresso.... intravenously....
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