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The Break (taking one, and not at the line)

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The Break (taking one, and not at the line)

Old 07-15-10, 07:44 AM
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The Break (taking one, and not at the line)

Burnout: signs, symptoms, strategies for dealing and prevention...thought this was a good topic around this time in the season. When to take that break sort of thread...

Symptoms:

For me it usually happens a month or so after my peak race. The first signs are mental; stupid riding REALLY irritates me, more so than usual. The energy I had for all the packing/unpacking that goes along with racing starts to wane and I find myself throwing clothes in a bag that still has clothes in it from the last weekend.

I'm homesick when I travel and really feel like I'd rather be home hanging out.

The next shows up at the race. Missed the winning break? Can't get anybody to help pull it back? I'm outta here. If I'm not racing for the win I'm not going to sit out here and settle for 3rd.

Finally the physical symptoms appear. People start riding off from me. My legs hurt at any hard efforts. It feels like my cranks weight about 60 pounds.

The longer I plunge into the deep end of that pool, the longer it takes me to recover. It's not a 1:1 ratio...a few years back I raced non-stop for the entire year and it took nearly 3 months for my legs to finally not hurt.

Coping mechanisms:

I shut it down at the first signs. Take a week or two completely off. I don't even read cycling related books or mags. No log entries. Rest. Sleep in. Then I ride when I want to, and easy, enjoyable stuff. I really think there comes a time when your brain starts to associate the bike with nothing but pain and suffering; you need to flip the "fun" switch again.

First race back:

When I get that really strong "Man, I really want to go kick some tail" feeling. When the mojo is back.

The less I "fudge" this, the quicker and better I come back to racing form; I seem to be getting better at it every season.

The Comeback:

The second part of the season might have one or two big goals, but I'm not racing nearly as much as I was in the first part of the year. I try to shut it down in October but the Tour de Gruene in November always tempts me back.

Then it's a long break before the process starts again.
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Old 07-15-10, 07:51 AM
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Wondering myself if it's what I'm going through even though I don't have as many races under my belt as others.
I still like riding and training but racing is another story. I don't feel up to it 100%. If I race, cool. If I don't, cool. I haven't felt this way before. But it's only my 3rd full year of racing.
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Old 07-15-10, 07:59 AM
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That's exactly what I went through after peaking this season.

Complete loss of motivation.

Get on the bike to train and the first thought is "This ****ing sucks. Why the **** am I doing this."

But what really seals the deal for me is when I say "I'd rather be doing ________"
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Old 07-15-10, 08:04 AM
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I think this concept was at least partially precipitated by my public announcement of losing the mental game and subsequent (and helpful) answers from better racers than me (including the OP).

I have one more big event, the Empire State Games. I did not want to do this event but joined the team due to a shortage in membership. I was going to call the coach and tell him I am just not up to it mentally but the fact is that I simply do not let people down, even if it kills me.

It sort of is killing me though.
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Old 07-15-10, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
Burnout: signs, symptoms, strategies for dealing and prevention...thought this was a good topic around this time in the season. When to take that break sort of thread...

Symptoms:

For me it usually happens a month or so after my peak race. The first signs are mental; stupid riding REALLY irritates me, more so than usual. The energy I had for all the packing/unpacking that goes along with racing starts to wane and I find myself throwing clothes in a bag that still has clothes in it from the last weekend.

I'm homesick when I travel and really feel like I'd rather be home hanging out.

The next shows up at the race. Missed the winning break? Can't get anybody to help pull it back? I'm outta here. If I'm not racing for the win I'm not going to sit out here and settle for 3rd.

Finally the physical symptoms appear. People start riding off from me. My legs hurt at any hard efforts. It feels like my cranks weight about 60 pounds.

The longer I plunge into the deep end of that pool, the longer it takes me to recover. It's not a 1:1 ratio...a few years back I raced non-stop for the entire year and it took nearly 3 months for my legs to finally not hurt.

Coping mechanisms:

I shut it down at the first signs. Take a week or two completely off. I don't even read cycling related books or mags. No log entries. Rest. Sleep in. Then I ride when I want to, and easy, enjoyable stuff. I really think there comes a time when your brain starts to associate the bike with nothing but pain and suffering; you need to flip the "fun" switch again.

First race back:

When I get that really strong "Man, I really want to go kick some tail" feeling. When the mojo is back.

The less I "fudge" this, the quicker and better I come back to racing form; I seem to be getting better at it every season.

The Comeback:

The second part of the season might have one or two big goals, but I'm not racing nearly as much as I was in the first part of the year. I try to shut it down in October but the Tour de Gruene in November always tempts me back.

Then it's a long break before the process starts again.
I ain't even left yet and I feel that way!!111!
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Old 07-15-10, 08:05 AM
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I remember that process in the past. I guess there are certain advantages to only training 6-8 hours/week, with two consecutive days off each week.

Every Monday morning, all I want to do is get on my bike.
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Old 07-15-10, 08:10 AM
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This year we scheduled my off time for June. It turned out to the end of May through June because of my stupid toe injury, anyway I did exactly what Ex recommends...took the bike out for fun, easy rides...did a total of 11h32min from the last week of May till the end of June. Aside from the miserable heat I'm really enjoying being on the bike again.
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Old 07-15-10, 09:47 AM
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Brilliant thread, good timing and good comments. I started to think about this after my race on Sunday when I was otb after 22 minutes or so (and the pace was not killer). I was sweating up a storm; I was very thirsty; legs were even a bit sore after the effort. It was indeed just after July 4 last year (when I had my best race at that point in the season) when I fell apart. Although I have had some recent extenuating circumstances, I have been thinking that it just might be that time of the year/season for me.

I have a big target race in a little more than 3 weeks (and another 3 weeks after that), but, I have forced myself to take yesterday and today off, and, I might take another 1-3 days off. Last year, when I felt the bonk, I took a week or so off. After the layoff, I was (for me) hell on wheels, having my best race of the season and some other strong races. Still, it is scary to take so much time off because psychologically one can be nervous about not getting it back soon enough. But, the funny thing is, one tends to come out of it better, sooner than one thinks. Viva George Costanza and doing the opposite.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy
I have one more big event, the Empire State Games. I did not want to do this event but joined the team due to a shortage in membership. I was going to call the coach and tell him I am just not up to it mentally but the fact is that I simply do not let people down, even if it kills me.
Then take your break now.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by shovelhd
Then take your break now.
I cannot. ESG is next week. Breaktime is after that.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:02 AM
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Good topic.

I'm in the middle of my first 1 week break since I started racing 3 years ago. In past years I wouldn't dare take more than 2 days off the bike. I was always training. But as my performance has increased this year so has my fatigue. I finally saw the light last month after a few forced days off due to work commitments. I came back stronger & feeling better than I had all year. Now after 4 straight weeks of racing I'm 5 days into a 7-8 day break. I've already got the itch to get back on the bike but I'm going to be strong and hold out.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy
I cannot. ESG is next week. Breaktime is after that.
Sure you can. It's all in your head. You have your mind made up.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by shovelhd
Sure you can. It's all in your head. You have your mind made up.
are you talking about quitting the team? or you mean "no racing until then" because I am already doing that.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:19 AM
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re: OP... yep...btdt back in the day... but these days I don't train nearly as hard and serious as you Ex, so I'm able to keep half-assing it all year long, and having fun along the way. works for me, your mileage may vary.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:19 AM
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burnout is in the air when people start talking about 'cross.

alot of preventing it has to do with planning - done in february, not thursday before a race.

-plan your race schedule around events you want to target, the way Friel lays out as A, B, C works.
-train to be fit and rested for the most important of those races
-fill in racing weekends around that/those key event(s)
-have a purpose for other races on your calender that assists you in meeting your objective for the target events


Random thoughts:

I havent raced enough over the last 3 years to have real race burnout until road season end, but it's a reason I specifically dont do cyclocross, the "preparing and packing up for race day" is what i get sick of.

I think one big cause of burnout is folks either do too many interval workouts and not enough riding with others, or they do too many big group rides instead of smaller ones where you can have a conversation with someone while riding.

For me, the biggest cause is external/not on the bike life factors pulling me in other directions.
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Old 07-16-10, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy
are you talking about quitting the team? or you mean "no racing until then" because I am already doing that.
Sort of. I'm talking about taking a few days off, no hard training rides, kicking back and enjoying a little of this great summer weather out of sight of your bike.
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Old 07-16-10, 08:33 AM
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My 'burnout' is always is hindsight...Im still learning to recognize the symptoms. Looking back a month or so, I started getting burnt at the Ocala SR. On the 2nd day I woke up and could have just gone home. So needless to say I didnt have a good day. Anyway, I realized Id been going hard since Winter and maybe it was time to cool it. I took 4 days completely off, and for the last few weeks, Ive just been JRA, and the only intensity has been the team ride on Sundays. Its been really nice NOT looking at my PT...and Im starting to feel really good on the bike.

Interestingly, I didnt realize how much acid Id built up in my legs til it was gone...I suppose Id just gotten use to it.
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Old 07-16-10, 04:19 PM
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This thread needs more metabolomics...
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Old 07-16-10, 04:36 PM
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Refining a few of Ex's points above, and adding some related to avoiding a bad burnout:

1) Understand your season, particular to you and the area you live. Schedule yourself to be fast when it counts, and actually rest when it doesn't. Understand the principles of base and build.
2) Switch up training just for the hell of it. Do specific types of intervals in 4-6 week blocks, then do something new. Throw in plenty of group riding.
3) Skip almost any race you don't feel like doing, unless it's just raining or something. In that case, HTFU.
4) Maintain your normal diet as much as possible during periods of rest. In the past, I've let myself go during rest weeks, eating crap the entire time. It made me feel like crap, and I didn't want to start riding again. Taking care of yourself during periods of recovery (mental and physical) is important.
5) When life gets in the way, reconcile it and move on.

I'm a poster boy for #5 this year. Working full time this summer means I can't train like a pro, so I'm not racing like one. It's taken me a few weeks to reconcile that fact.
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Old 07-16-10, 04:43 PM
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[QUOTE=ZeCanon;11125883]Snip/QUOTE]

I have trouble with #4. If I'm not riding I tend to eat like crap. I need to work on this.
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Old 07-16-10, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Enthalpic
This thread needs more metabolomics...
Had to look that one up.
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Old 07-16-10, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hammy56
My 'burnout' is always is hindsight...Im still learning to recognize the symptoms. Looking back a month or so, I started getting burnt at the Ocala SR. On the 2nd day I woke up and could have just gone home. So needless to say I didnt have a good day. Anyway, I realized Id been going hard since Winter and maybe it was time to cool it. I took 4 days completely off, and for the last few weeks, Ive just been JRA, and the only intensity has been the team ride on Sundays. Its been really nice NOT looking at my PT...and Im starting to feel really good on the bike.

Interestingly, I didnt realize how much acid Id built up in my legs til it was gone...I suppose Id just gotten use to it.
Such is the way we race in Florida. We have two seasons and the first one starts in January.

I'd have to say that I was racing well on Saturday of that weekend. On Sunday, not so much. The heat might have had an influence. After that race weekend I have been in a cycle between burn out and base, but it is getting more and more base than burn out recently.

And hammy56, you might like some of the road races in the "Fall" part of the schedule, especially if they do the St. Augustine weekend like last year. That sucker is dead flat!
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Old 07-16-10, 05:21 PM
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[QUOTE=mike868y;11125928]
Originally Posted by ZeCanon
Snip/QUOTE]

I have trouble with #4. If I'm not riding I tend to eat like crap. I need to work on this.
yeah same. exercise as appetite surpressant is a cruel prank. when i'm doing big miles i have to force myself to eat but on rest days/weeks i get insatiuably munchy and have to really vigilant against talking myself into eating junk.
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Old 07-16-10, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mollusk
Such is the way we race in Florida. We have two seasons and the first one starts in January.

I'd have to say that I was racing well on Saturday of that weekend. On Sunday, not so much. The heat might have had an influence. After that race weekend I have been in a cycle between burn out and base, but it is getting more and more base than burn out recently.

And hammy56, you might like some of the road races in the "Fall" part of the schedule, especially if they do the St. Augustine weekend like last year. That sucker is dead flat!
Im starting to feel pretty good, just logging hours/miles, looking forward to the fall season, hopefully i'll see you at a few.
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Old 07-16-10, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by hammy56
Im starting to feel pretty good, just logging hours/miles, looking forward to the fall season, hopefully i'll see you at a few.
I have heard some rumors that the State RR champs will not be on the course used for the last few years (a sub-set of the Sunday Ocala RR course), but will move south to the Clermont area. Too bad. I could have hosted you and a friend if it was still in the Ocala area.

Then again, maybe these rumors are wrong.

Keep in touch.
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