It hits me every season no matter how jazzed I am about racing. Race fatigue from the sport I love so much, and eventually I just feel like I’ve burned out.
During the off season, it’s easy to get excited about training. I know the hours I put in on the trainer or at the gym are only going to make my race season more successful. I train for the road season all winter long, once the snow starts to melt, gravel season hits and I’m regularly doing 70-100 mile gravel rides or races on the weekends. Once the weather finally starts to warm up, in Minnesota “warm up” means anything above 45 degrees, the road season kicks off. We have weekly criteriums and road races about twice a month. If I’m lucky, there are some regional races I head off to compete in as well.
Here’s my annual schedule where the internal fires of anxiety start burning in April when I am first balancing two disciplines. I can usually get myself together for the month of May (sometimes), but by bottling everything up in May, June is usually an explosion of forest fires resulting in the experience of July. I get so stressed out about keeping up training, being worried about whether or not my performance is peaking, that I usually just want to quit riding my bike all together.
Read that again. I want to quit doing the thing that I LOVE doing, the activity I can’t shut up about once I get started. The activity I dream about, that makes up most of my evening and weekends. I want to quit riding my bike.
I am really fortunate to have a partner who understands how much I love competitively riding my bike, but who also knows when to help pry me away from the sport I love in order to save my mental health.
Fatigue is a normal part of competition. Here are some symptoms that tell me it might be time to take a week or so off of my bike and off of training:
I don’t feel like doing my training
Under normal circumstances, I really look forward to my workouts. It means I get to see people I care about, I get to have an endorphin rush from lifting heavy things or from sprinting on my bike. But when the fatigue sets in, it’s hard for me to feel motivated. I feel sluggish and I don’t care that I just want to sit on the couch, watch Netflix, pet my cats, and eat a pint of ice cream.
I start avoiding/evading activities
When activities or races come up, I start plotting ways to get out of them.
- Can I skip this practice because I need to empty the dishwasher?
- What if I just ride home from work really slowly and miss training?
- Can I volunteer myself for other activities to skip out on racing or training?
I just feel stressed out ALL THE TIME
Simple tasks suddenly become Sisyphean. For some reason I end up tacking more items onto my to-do list. I put stupid things on my to-do list. Things like “repaint and refinish the deck – IT HAS TO GET DONE THIS WEEK!” That’s dumb. That just adds to my stress!
I feel immense guilt for not performing or not training
Once I get through the above things, I usually end my day feeling extremely guilty for not participating in the way I know I should be. I feel like I let my teammates down, like I let my partner down, and most importantly, that I let myself down.
All of this just to say feeling burned out or fatigue from your sport or activity is totally normal. I would encourage checking in with yourself regularly. It might help to make a list of feelings that might be indicative of you feeling burnout. Check out the next post on methods I use to dig myself out of this fatigue to avoid burnout!
As usual, I’d love to hear some stories or experiences you’ve had with burnout and fatigue. It doesn’t have to be sport related! Feel free to share your story here too!