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Well, after hitting the weights all Fall and dumping some weight, I'm managed to burn-out in the off-season. This has got to be a sick joke or something and I'm becoming tired of it.

I had the opportunity to join a good gym last year and was looking forward to getting my money's worth this off-season. I began a bike specific weight program in Sept. and just kept pumping through the holidays. I alternated between weight workouts, spin classes, bike commutes to work and long rides on the weekends. During this time, I also dumped some weight. This was done with the hopes of having a break-through season in '06.

While I have become stronger, there is no night and day difference. I'm not going to be blowing past my competition. The added stresses of training, calorie restriction and life have once again collided and sent me into a tail spin. It's freakin January! My humorous side says, "Hey, you're burning out ahead of schedule!". My serious side says, "You need serious counseling!"

I am sincerely becoming annoyed at my own behavior. Why is it that I do this? So I can spend $20+ each weekend and pretend to be more manly than the next guy while wearing spandex and a Styrofoam hat? I'll bury myself for a few months to make it up a climb 30 seconds faster. Then show up at a race and discover that there are still another dozen guys faster than me. The cycle is never ending.

Enough already. This is BS!!! I'm 34 now. I support a family. I'm training and racing for nothing more than my own pride but my behavior makes me ashamed of myself. I have become consumed in my own training. Can you say Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder? Let's throw in a little eating disorder and depression for fun. Most psych docs drool at the thought of getting me on their couch.

I've been out of the gym and nearly off the bike completely for two weeks. On one occasion, I convinced myself to go to the gym. After a set of squats, I simply grabbed my stuff and left. My motivation was at absolute zero. I'm not going to become a great bike champion and this training behavior isn't making life any better. Why bother?

I feel like an addict. So much of me revolves around the racing and training that I can't get it out of my head. My primary care doc actually prescribed a shrink. I think to myself, the time spent on the couch will disrupt my training. And the cost will eat into my bike budget. That is just not right.

I know I'm not the only one that goes through this type of behavior. Let's go boys...Come clean!!!
 

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I'm not nearly as serious as you Ben, but I can identify with the on-off training behavior. Either I'm 100% motivated, training a ton, couldn't be stopped by a freight train, or I'm completely out of motivation, with no reason to even ride around the block.

My only thought is to think back to what you really enjoyed about riding and racing in the past. Was it the crazy training? The group rides? The mountain bike racing? Something is broke and you should go fix it.

Also, you seem a tad obsessive compulsive when it comes to diet and training. Are you competitive enough to balance that out?

Silas
 

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SilasCL said:
I'm not nearly as serious as you Ben, but I can identify with the on-off training behavior. Either I'm 100% motivated, training a ton, couldn't be stopped by a freight train, or I'm completely out of motivation, with no reason to even ride around the block.

My only thought is to think back to what you really enjoyed about riding and racing in the past. Was it the crazy training? The group rides? The mountain bike racing? Something is broke and you should go fix it.

Also, you seem a tad obsessive compulsive when it comes to diet and training. Are you competitive enough to balance that out?

Silas

I have to agree with Silas, I am training right now 6-10 hours per week on the trainer to lose weight and hopefully compete in some local events next year, but I love to ride, and I love how I feel after an hour of intense intervals. Life is about balance my friend, you have to learn to ride, train, be with your family, be productive at work, and have fun.....that is sometimes hard, ESPECIALLY for someone who is extremely competitive, but it is possible. I am willing to bet, that at 34, you will never race professionally, but that should not stop you from competing with yourself......I have learned over time, as I am EXTREMELY competitive in everything, including academics, to compete primarily with myself. I know that on the bike, there will almost ALWAYS be someone faster and stronger, and I am okay with that. I know that with my heavy work demands and family demands as well that I will not be the strongest rider in my area, but I will try to be, and therein lies the fun.....women know this intuitively, but we as men usually have to learn this the hard way, and that is......gulp........the RESULTS DON'T MATTER....enjoy the process, try your hardest, try to finish as best you can, and then you can sleep knowing that you have done your best, AND that you HAVE something that others do not, and it is VERY special...you have a loving spouse and children that think you are a hero......at the end of the day, THAT IS WHAT MATTERS.......hope this helps...


Michael
 

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Sucks but not uncommon. . .

This might help: Ride a couple weeks with a group of riders you know take it easy. Take a camera. Whatever it takes to chill with it for a while. At some point all the crap falls off and your legs tell you to give it a go.

Eeeevil funk be gone! Good luck, Ben!
 

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If your primary care thinks you should see someone, I say you should seriously consider it. I definitely think it is difficult for motivated people to find a balance between reasonably driving themselves and driving themselves into the ground. Whether it is family, work or excercise, the balance is not easy.

My balance does not involve racing, but family, work, and school. If I ever decide to race, I know it can't be until after I'm done with school, hopefully in 2007. If I do ride my first race in 2007, at least I will be at an age where my only expectation is to be able to say that I did it. I can see how it must be jolting to suddenly wonder why you've been doing what you've been doing all this time.

Get through this and I hope you get back to enjoying your time, both on the bike and off the bike.
 

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The secret to having fun training and bike racing is to develop a very short memory. If you can forget all the pain involved and all the disapointments of the previous season, you will find it easy to put yourself through the wringer all over again. You also have to remember that no matter how good you get, there will always be someone faster. You also have to remember that no matter how much you are hurting, the people behind you are probably hurting more.
Get out there and hurt someone. Make them hurt more, and be more depressed than you are.
 

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How many hours were you doing in the off season?

Burnt out from gym, weight, xtraining...means you should stop all of that and start riding your bike more! Take an easy transition week.

You've said you've dumped a lot of weight....how much? Too much? Especially adding weights during the winter, it is okay to work at your 'winter weight' until late base.
 

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Sucks. Try this--

Have some fun, dude!

Spin classes? Are you a spandex-wearing GIRL? Get out and ride your mountainbike in the snow or mud for a few hours! Feel free to crash in ridiculous situations involving 8 mph. GO ice skating, especially if you suck at it. Go to a ski hill, boot climb and ski down- this pisses them off, because it's usually perfectly legal (they usually don't own the land... just lease it from the state)

Play with your kids, put one on your shoulders and run a mile. Rollers have been a godsend for me... my GF went one further and learned to unicycle. Any crazy thing to keep interested. Don't forget some doses of real bright sunlight.

For gods sake, eat a donut.

If all of that excellent advice doesn't work, see a doctor. It could very well be some of your ions just need a little whack back in line.

Keep it up. As Grumpy said, we all suffering to some degree.

'meat

biknben said:
Well, after hitting the weights all Fall and dumping some weight, I'm managed to burn-out in the off-season. This has got to be a sick joke or something and I'm becoming tired of it.

I had the opportunity to join a good gym last year and was looking forward to getting my money's worth this off-season. I began a bike specific weight program in Sept. and just kept pumping through the holidays. I alternated between weight workouts, spin classes, bike commutes to work and long rides on the weekends. During this time, I also dumped some weight. This was done with the hopes of having a break-through season in '06.

While I have become stronger, there is no night and day difference. I'm not going to be blowing past my competition. The added stresses of training, calorie restriction and life have once again collided and sent me into a tail spin. It's freakin January! My humorous side says, "Hey, you're burning out ahead of schedule!". My serious side says, "You need serious counseling!"

I am sincerely becoming annoyed at my own behavior. Why is it that I do this? So I can spend $20+ each weekend and pretend to be more manly than the next guy while wearing spandex and a Styrofoam hat? I'll bury myself for a few months to make it up a climb 30 seconds faster. Then show up at a race and discover that there are still another dozen guys faster than me. The cycle is never ending.

Enough already. This is BS!!! I'm 34 now. I support a family. I'm training and racing for nothing more than my own pride but my behavior makes me ashamed of myself. I have become consumed in my own training. Can you say Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder? Let's throw in a little eating disorder and depression for fun. Most psych docs drool at the thought of getting me on their couch.

I've been out of the gym and nearly off the bike completely for two weeks. On one occasion, I convinced myself to go to the gym. After a set of squats, I simply grabbed my stuff and left. My motivation was at absolute zero. I'm not going to become a great bike champion and this training behavior isn't making life any better. Why bother?

I feel like an addict. So much of me revolves around the racing and training that I can't get it out of my head. My primary care doc actually prescribed a shrink. I think to myself, the time spent on the couch will disrupt my training. And the cost will eat into my bike budget. That is just not right.

I know I'm not the only one that goes through this type of behavior. Let's go boys...Come clean!!!
 

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biknben said:
While I have become stronger, there is no night and day difference. I'm not going to be blowing past my competition.
At high level competition that little extra strength is night and day. Point of diminishing returns. You will never win a race easily.
biknben said:
Why is it that I do this? So I can spend $20+ each weekend and pretend to be more manly than the next guy while wearing spandex and a Styrofoam hat?
You need goals. If you're just road racing every weekend for the sake of it then of course you're going to burn out. I don't know your level, but how about State champs, national masters, or even a new discipline like track? A coach can also help structure your training. Having a program set for you keeps you more focused over setting your own.

Or just bail. Turn your back on racing completely. There is nothing worse than racing half arsed.....
 

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Been there, done that!

Not quite to your extreme though.
Wife, 3 kids, work, play time, etc.
I've quite structured training just for your reasons. Took too much fun out of it....and it is just for fun. I'll never be a pro nor a top speed guy in our area. Now I still do some base training, ride the trainer keep track of hours, etc. But I am not a slave to getting in so many hours per week. My intense rides/intervals are during group rides as we hamer and adrenilin gets to everyone in the ride.

Relax and have some fun first. It may do you some good. - Last year was my best MTB racing year. I hit the podium is most races (Expert).

KMan
 

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Excellent advice dogmeat!

dogmeat said:
Have some fun, dude!

Spin classes? Are you a spandex-wearing GIRL? Get out and ride your mountainbike in the snow or mud for a few hours! Feel free to crash in ridiculous situations involving 8 mph. GO ice skating, especially if you suck at it. Go to a ski hill, boot climb and ski down- this pisses them off, because it's usually perfectly legal (they usually don't own the land... just lease it from the state)

Play with your kids, put one on your shoulders and run a mile. Rollers have been a godsend for me... my GF went one further and learned to unicycle. Any crazy thing to keep interested. Don't forget some doses of real bright sunlight.

For gods sake, eat a donut.

If all of that excellent advice doesn't work, see a doctor. It could very well be some of your ions just need a little whack back in line.

Keep it up. As Grumpy said, we all suffering to some degree.

'meat
 

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Yeah. Just about every year up here in the northeast I get to feeling like crap around Jan/Feb. I'm usually feeling overtrained from too much time on the trainer (which incidentally is any time on the trainer) and that's why I usually try and plan some kind of vacation around the end of Jan. This year I spent the winter nursing a serious case of tendonitis so I certainly wasn't overtrained, but I can definately feel where you're coming from. You need a break big guy. Don't give up on the racing all together, but pare it down as much as possible. Keep off the crazy distance stuff and take the mtb racing easy for a while. Just ride for a few weeks and get in touch with the reason you decided to go nuts in the first place. And try not to sweat missing a workout, in fact plan around it. Most of us work too much and don't take enough time off during the week. It seems that we get it in our heads that to be competitive we need to train the same as the pros, when we really don't have the time. We have families, school, and jobs that need attention. In my opinion priorities should be set and adhered to.

1) family (always the most important, kids only grow up once and your's are cute as hell)
2) work
3) riding/racing

Best of luck Ben, you're a great guy and certainly deserving of a break. Get some rest, cause I think I'm going to the Tour of Sommerville this year and you should be there.
 

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Hey Ben. You don't know me from Adam, but I feel you dude. Winter time just sucks. And I live in Alabama! See the deal with winter in Alabama is not snow and cold, it's rain and cool, and lots of dark mornings and dark days. You get up, it's dark. You head home from work, it's dark.

So, in a nutshell, the training I do is spent on the trainer. And while on the trainer, I have found that if I clear my mind and just go into a state of zombie-like hammering, I can get through about any session without a lot of self-introspection that will make me want to quit. It's tough this time of year, but it has to be done in order to stay in some kind of shape.

I have to keep biking in perspective a lot of times. I'm 30, I've raced with little result and even less consistency since I was 21. Spent those first couple years racing MTB. Discovered crits and road races in 2001 when I was 25-26. So, my perspective is that I have bills to pay, and to be a dad and husband, and everything else just kind of fits in the gaps. Cycling does that for me. Not hunting, not running, not eating hors'deorves....Cycling just takes everything else away for that hour on the trainer a few times a week, and on weekends, those long 3-4 hour rides. I can be a pro-cyclist in my mind. A fine Italian stallion with a racing pedigree comparable to no one!

It's all imagination, but it really helps clear out the stress and depression of everyday life, and this crummy winter time blues!

By the way, my doc told me I was suffering form depression too, and said I should seek counseling. I told him he was crazy!!!! I do probably need the professional help, but my experience has been that they try to give you some drugs (that prescriptive insurance won't cover), and get you set on that. No thanks. The exercise works for me...
 

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Everything in life is about the journey and the process and has almost nothing to do with the end result. Do you really believe that a first place in bum/fk/nowhere crit in the Cat3s is going to put you over the top and hand you a smile that lasts longer then 10 minutes? It's not. You'll just be thinking about the next race or the next category or the next conquest. For Chrit's sake, Marco Pantani was one of the more depressed people on earth and he was a cycling god. In fact, half of the pro peloton looks depressed to me, just like half (if not much more) of the schmoes you see on the sidewalk, on the bus, at work, etc. are depressed. Why? Because they can't see what's right in front of them - FUNCTION. PROCESS. If you can not learn to embrace this, the essential element of life and happiness then you will always feel lost and depressed.

When you go to a race, you should be focused on the thrill of pack, the thrill of the hunt, the comaraderie you can offer those around you who share your passion. It's been said that those who seek love and affection are immature and depressed people. It's the people that look to offer love and affection to others that are truly blessed. In this case, the love and affection you receive in return is just a by-product of the love that you show others. Don't just look to your family and your loved ones in this context, but look at cycling this way as well. Mentor a newbie rider. Host a skills clinic. Get more involved with your local team. Throw a race. Start a new junior program. Get more involved in your teammate's goals and struggles. All of these things make you look outside yourself and not be so selfish. It's not about you. It's about everyone else. As soon as you realize this then you'll have no time to be depressed about you because you're not thinking about yourself anymore. In fact, doors will start opening that you never realized even existed and they were there all along.

Remember, no single raindrop believes it's responsible for the flood. Look outside yourself because you can make a positive difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What do you do when you become defined by your own behavior? Things are so intertwined that I can not simply step away. I enjoy cycling. I enjoy the feeling I get after an intense interval session. I even enjoy the anxiety that builds up in preparation for that session. I enjoy looking at a graph of a workout that is a year old and remembering every aspect of that ride. I love eating a variety of foods. I love being able to eat whatever I want...whenever...with the confidence that I can burn it off the next day. Trust me...I eat plenty of donuts!!! I love that I can wake up on any morning and easily ride a century without any preparation. I love showing up at a group ride knowing that unless the group consists of pros, I'll be able to hang with them. I love being known as the guy who takes pictures while riding. I have more bike clothes than casual clothes. I have more Sidi shoes than all my wife's shoes. My LBS manager walks into my personal workshop and offers compliments. I love diagnosing a mechanical problem and fixing it myself. I love creating a route on Streets and Trips and discovering its better than I thought it would be. I enjoy being able to help people who come to me asking about cycling, exercise, nutrition, fitness, etc. I enjoy the responses I get when I post a Ride Report on RBR.

These are things that make me who I am. I have woven a tangled web. A week off or a donut are not going to cut it. This is more than winter blues. I feel like a retiree who can't find anything better to do. I want to move on but can't find what is next. Therefore it is easier to just continue.

My PC Doc prescribed the counseling nearly a year ago. That's why I put racing on the back burner last year. The ultra-distance stuff was supposed to be my break from intensity but didn't work out that way. My cycles of depression have just made it more obvious that the doc was on to something. I will be seeking help. Calls were made today.
 

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Yes, and With That Said...

...there would be no bike racing if someone didn't offer of themselves. From the race promoters, to the mentors to the family who supports you they are all giving of themselves. I've found the racing community to be some of the most supportive people around. Perhaps its a tightly knit groups because the sport doesn't enjoy much popularity in this country, but for whatever reason it just seems like a sport where the more you give the more you get.

You seem to have your head on straight perhaps more than you think. If you can refocus a bit you'll be fine. Try another sport, mentor a new rider, become an official. The possibilities are endless. Race because you love it, not because you have to. Maybe some of the pro's are depressed because what used to be fun is now a chore, and in some ways a viscious cycle. Face it you are burned out. Think about what has made racing and riding fun for you, and concentrate on that.
 

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biknben said:
I will be seeking help. Calls were made today.
Dude, good on ya. It ain't weakness, it's the strength to ask for help. As an aside, when seeking mental health care, know that there are two camps: psychiatrists (MDs) and psychologists (PhDs) (and the lesser masters trained groups too -- conselors of one sort or another). IME, primary care docs refer to psychiatrists. Psychiatrists rarely engage in true counseling... rather they offer meds. Meds have side effects.

[disclosure, my spouse is a psychologist. I've seen one at a couple of points in my life. And I've always wondered about what the meds would do...]

I posted a thread almost identical to yours (though perhaps not from such a point of dispair) back in the fall. That ALL motivation had left me. So I quit for a while. Didn't ride the bike but about 5 hours in two months. I went to the gym and I ran a little, but just to keep from getting bored -- no goals at all. I'm back on the bike now (yeah, yeah, I'm still working on the 8 lbs) looking forward to the upcoming season. But with a renewed perspective too -- I'm skipping big weekend rides to do stuff with the kids (roller skating last week -- what a hoot!) and I've come to the conclusion that cycling works only so long as I feel good about it. So I'm only allowing myself a moderate dose.

Good luck Ben. And let us know how it ends up.
 

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smart move, dude, smart move. get some help. i only know you very, very vaguely; you helped me out via e-mail with some route advice for a charity ride i led across new jersey last year. but you appear from your posts to be one of the nicest, luckiest guys on RBR. i envy you, man, and many others on this board do, too. it seems like you've got a wonderful family, good job and more time to ride and train than most guys in your situation. many RBRers would give their left brifter to be in your sidis, including me...

but i think kpcw has a point. if you cannot find the joy in your current situation, which from the outside seems to be more enjoyable than the lives led by the vast majority of people on this planet, then you should seek professional help to find out why you can't see it. you might have some sort of clinical disorder. everyone is wired differently; go find a professional who might now better.

i feel your pain somewhat. we all get down. i figure that my late father probably had untreated clinical depression, and maybe he passed it on to me. because sometimes, in spite of all my good fortune, it just seems like i'm spinning my wheels in life. i've never been treated for any disorder. when i get like this, which is about every six weeks, my wife sits me down and forces me to make a list of all the wonderful things in my life. that snaps me out of it damn quick.

good luck, bro.
 

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Good luck

biknben said:
What do you do when you become defined by your own behavior? Things are so intertwined that I can not simply step away. I enjoy cycling. I enjoy the feeling I get after an intense interval session. I even enjoy the anxiety that builds up in preparation for that session. I enjoy looking at a graph of a workout that is a year old and remembering every aspect of that ride. I love eating a variety of foods. I love being able to eat whatever I want...whenever...with the confidence that I can burn it off the next day. Trust me...I eat plenty of donuts!!! I love that I can wake up on any morning and easily ride a century without any preparation. I love showing up at a group ride knowing that unless the group consists of pros, I'll be able to hang with them. I love being known as the guy who takes pictures while riding. I have more bike clothes than casual clothes. I have more Sidi shoes than all my wife's shoes. My LBS manager walks into my personal workshop and offers compliments. I love diagnosing a mechanical problem and fixing it myself. I love creating a route on Streets and Trips and discovering its better than I thought it would be. I enjoy being able to help people who come to me asking about cycling, exercise, nutrition, fitness, etc. I enjoy the responses I get when I post a Ride Report on RBR.

These are things that make me who I am. I have woven a tangled web. A week off or a donut are not going to cut it. This is more than winter blues. I feel like a retiree who can't find anything better to do. I want to move on but can't find what is next. Therefore it is easier to just continue.

My PC Doc prescribed the counseling nearly a year ago. That's why I put racing on the back burner last year. The ultra-distance stuff was supposed to be my break from intensity but didn't work out that way. My cycles of depression have just made it more obvious that the doc was on to something. I will be seeking help. Calls were made today.
All I can say for sure is that you will not be able to walk away from cycling. It is IN you. Look at your first paragraph, you describe all the stuff you love about it. Interestingly, most of what you describe is more about the riding and not so much about the racing. Perhaps you need to step away from the competitive side of cycling for a longer period and see if your "swings" level out. Road racing is friggin' hard, and then trying to weave it into a regular life is even harder. Usually the most competitive and ultimately successful athletes are also the most obsessive. It can be a dangerous path.

I hit a bad point mentally last season and I basically walked away from racing right as my biggest races were coming up. I still rode quite a bit, and since the races were local I even rode out to one and watched. While I was there I realized that I was not completely satisfied with stepping off, and that I really needed another year of racing. So, here I am in my 15th year of competitive cycling (racing age 38), training hard and trying to convince myself that I will be regionally competitive in cat 1 again. I am training with purpose and motivation, and that was largely missing in 2005. But I am concerned about matching my performance level with my expectations. This is often where the problems start, one expects more out of himself than he can reasonably achieve. And once he fails to meet his own expectations both depression and obsessive/compulsive behavior can kick in. I think part of my problems in 2005 originated from having a very excellent 2004 season, with the exception that one of my last major goal races (and likely the loftiest goal) was cut down because I was involved in a hard crash the week before it. I think the depression started with my disappointment of being in the middle of a great patch of form (best of my "career") and then losing the chance at achieving a major goal because of a crash. This funk carried over into 2005, and I trained with low motivation but when I raced I still had expectations. The combination of barely adequate fitness and lofty expectations slowly ate into me and I stopped racing.

What's my point? You are not the only one the struggles with this stuff. The fact that you are aware of your problems is important. Now you just have to find a way to face up to them and decide what you want to do. I will say this: there is nothing wrong with stepping back from racing and just riding your bike for pure fitness and enjoyment. You'll still enjoy it, you'll still buy new biking toys, and you'll still ride with your friends. Likely you just won't ride as fast.
 

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ben, don't you live somewhere near me (metro DC)?
There are skads of group rides around that keep it fresh.
I will sort of do drills now and again, if I can fit them in, but I do most of my training on group rides. I know you're not supposed to, but it's my life, and it's supposed to be fun.
I will try to emphasize on a given group ride a different skill-set or drill -- i.e., hit the hills, or sit in but sprint, or pull like a train but skip the sprint.
 
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