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Mental Potholes(14 posts)

Mental Potholeslonefrontranger
Jun 10, 2002 10:33 AM
I've encountered this before mid-season and know how to work through it - a couple weeks in the woods on the MTB and/or an XC race are usually just the ticket. I'm merely curious as to what other folks may have come up with to combat the dreaded Mental Burnout Syndrome.

Physically I'm fine, fitter than I've ever been, and the past few weeks I've been absolutely flying form-wise. The last 2 crits I've done have even been my favorite type of course: flat, fast, 7-corner technical crash-fests.

However, in the middle of each race, I found myself battling an overwhelming sense of boredom. I felt like I was easily riding around in the field, but could barely motivate myself to mix it up - tried a few attacks that went nowhere and didn't have my heart in it anyway. Last week I managed to salvage a 2nd place by getting my **** together in the final 3 laps, but this week I ended up not even caring. I sat in through the entire bell lap thinking "now would be a good time to take a flyer" without actually executing, then watched with detachment as I got boxed in on the final corner, thinking "gee, I should do something about that...". I came through the line fifth, sitting up. Yawn. Part of it was being disappointed at my teammates for not showing up (again), and the rest of it could have been the 3-hour Bike Nazi ride up Lefthand Canyon I did on Saturday. Sunday was a "throwaway" race that I was training through, so I really should have tried to establish a break or something.

I'm actually pretty stoked about getting my ass handed to me in the upcoming weekend's mountain stage race (Estes Park) - an uphill TT and 2 featherweight-fest road races contested at dizzying altitudes. At least I'm guaranteed to have at least one teammate to work for. And it won't be my umpteenth crit in a row. Seems even a dedicated "critter" needs some variety.

Anyone else dealing / dealt with this?
More Physical Than MentalBigLeadOutGuy
Jun 10, 2002 11:12 AM
Hey Lone!
Im not really experiencing any mental breakdowns but I am definatley having some pysical potholes here and there. Every now and then I have a mental pothole like your saying...usually it due to the fact that I just dont feel like suffering on the bike, I think that is due to a hectic race schedule....Usually Ill race 2-3 times a week and after a few weeks of that I definatley hit a pothole...a little mental....more physical. Usually what Ill do is just take a week off and do some slooooooow recover rides...if I dont race for a week I am off my rocker and foaming at the mouth to get back racing....that usually does it for me. A week off and im good to go...give it a whirl =)
More Physical Than MentalRockyMountainRacer
Jun 10, 2002 12:02 PM
I agree with the BLOG. Take a week off and you should be all set. I like to go backpacking for at least one weekend during the race season for a mental/physical break. Do whatever other thing besides biking you love to do. Also, I find that splitting up my racing between the mountain and the road keeps me very motivated. I would highly recommend you take your own suggestion and do a few mtb races just for variety--Winter Park races always have a huge turnout, fun courses, and aren't very far away from the front range.

However, being relatively new to bike racing I am not experiencing much in the way of mental trouble--I had to take a week off a few weeks back mainly for my body to recover. I understand what you are talking about though as I was getting very burned out toward the end of my lacrosse career (13 years!), and a new sport (bike racing!) was just the ticket for me to get back to having more fun with athletics than I've had in a very long time.
re: Mental Potholescxking
Jun 10, 2002 11:22 AM
In my experience it is best to take a week off and do something completely different, in other words no riding. Flyfishing works for me. A week off is not going to affect your fitness at all and will do wonders for your mental health. Good luck.
Burn outBipedZed
Jun 10, 2002 11:34 AM
After Platte Bridge I was completely unmotivated to race, particularly since the next 2 weekends were basically short round and round crit courses. I've totally been there where I'm just cruising in the pack and completely apathetic about the situation or the race outcome. I realized I'd rather be out doing long rides in the hills than waste a whole day sitting around for a late start time to ride 60 minutes in short circles.

As a 4 I was eager to race every single race to get points in order to upgrade. Now as a 3 I don't feel the need to race every single race on the calendar as I'm not looking for points. For the rest of the season I'll pick races where I'll be super-motivated (Estes, State RR).

You've got to be over 20 racing days so far this year. That's a lot of repetition with the same types of courses and the same people every weekend. Skip some crits (we have PLENTY of crits) and if you want to race, the MTB races are starting up now.

After 2 weeks of no racing (besides Meridian), I'm totally psyched for the Estes stage race. My Cat 3 team will be there in force and we have a legitimate contender for the overall so it'll be a blast.

See you this weekend.
Easy solutionSherpa23
Jun 10, 2002 11:38 AM
yeah, yeah I know... 2 more weeks (nm)lonefrontranger
Jun 10, 2002 12:39 PM
I know but...Sherpa23
Jun 10, 2002 4:00 PM
I can't figure out why you don't want to hurt all those people around you in the race. Isn't that the best part of racing? You meter out your own pain and lay it out so that everyone else has to match that. They suffer, and then you turn the screws even more and they crack. I think that's why I love to race. I like to hurt people - not in a bad way, but I like make people suffer as a result of my ability. I have a friend who's a lawyer and he hates the way they attack each other with paper. He calls it "pencil f+++ing". They file a motion and you file a counter. It goes on and on. As cyclists, we are in the lucky position that we don't attack each other with anything other than pain. What isn't fun about that? How could you be bored at a time when you could be hurting people? I understand what you are saying about the way you feel but I don't understand how you could feel that way , IN A RACE NO LESS!
ah, but there's a key difflonefrontranger
Jun 11, 2002 7:15 AM
Sure I love to make 'em suffer, we all do - that's why we're bike racers. Nothing's better than to look over at your rival and see that about-to-be-shelled look of panic in their eyes.

This reminds me of the scene in The Matrix where the Oracle is instructing Neo on being the One:

"Being the One is kinda like being in love; you don't have to ask, you just know it, balls to bones."

You happen to have that bone-deep *conviction* that you CAN make the rest of the field hurt, and make it so. I imagine you can do this on days when you're physically feeling substandard. Me, well... I mostly just feel doubt, even on my best days. This is one of the key reasons that you race for UCI points and I race for water bottle primes.
Well, you can never have too many water bottles (nm)Sherpa23
Jun 11, 2002 9:14 AM
no shoes?DougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 12:38 PM
I once thought I was bad off when I had no shoes, until... (you know how it goes).

I wish I were in your position. I don't have time to race. Maybe thinking about how fortunate you are to be there might help.;

A new expensive bike might help?

The suggestion about upgrading might not be bad, either. Struggling to stay on might be more challenging than sitting in and getting 5th.

new expensive bike, not!lonefrontranger
Jun 10, 2002 12:49 PM
My boyfriend already takes me to task about how much I spend on bike stuff, and he races too.

I already have 2 Colnagos, a fancy custom crit / TT bike (all high-end Campy equipped), nice wheels out the wazoo, and am working on an MTB project due sometime late this year; a Trek Fuel 100 frameset built up with a SID Race, XTR and all the lightweight goodies (because those Bontrager stock bits blow, but anyhow). I just wangled a Mongoose 20" BMXer cheap off the kid up the street and my cool old retro fixie finally got a matching set of Nuovo Record brake levers recently. Geez, Doug how many bikes do I need?

As far as the upgrade goes, that's been planned since last year; I'll send in my request right after State.
No advice to offerbrider
Jun 11, 2002 8:03 AM
as I just can't relate. I was NEVER burned out. Years of 3-4 racing days a week. Never could understand why the racing calendar stopped at Labor Day (and virtually no road races after July). On a lot of the non-racing days I'd do easy MTB rides, which may have been the ticket, I don't know. I'd never take weeks off, train hard year-round, and be totally motivated EVERY race. Maybe I'm just wierd.
Oh Yes.allervite
Jun 11, 2002 2:14 PM
I am riding right there beside you. I took a week off about a month ago and am building back up. However, I just have not had that burning desire: No palpatations or adrenaline rush before the race. I'm doing fine also, and have been training well, but every so often in the middle of the season I get a bit laxadaisical too. I would not call it burnout, just a loss of mental energy to throw down and eat lactic acid like it was candy. I still love the bike, love being fit and love riding. I just don't care if I am the Lion of Flanders or the Mouse of California.

Like you I always pull out of it. I usually disassociate myself with the sport for a while. I still train and ride, but I quit reading the magazines, following the racing scene and commenting on message boards.

Then it gradually comes back to me and my wife bemoans the fact that once again I am obsessed in the most delightfull way.

I'm going to the back now. You pull for a while.