Beat up, depressed, and constantly having setbacks-need some advice and encouragement

Hey all,
you might have seen some of my other bad luck posts, but it…just keeps happening and now I need some advice (and a little sympathy lol). As as summary:
-mid year last year I had a major rash as a reaction to my covid shots. That set me back significantly, but I still placed 8th in my A race
-October I had oral surgery which was 1,000x worse than I could have imagined and took me a month to recover. I started my season after with a V02 block (when I had high hopes about changing things up to continue improving).
-Immediately after the block I got chickenpox…for the second time in my life…as an adult.
-A little before the chickenpox I started developing a spot on my thumb. I had an appointment to get it looked at and fixed but was in the urgent care the day before being diagnosed with chickenpox and had to postpone.
-My NEW appointment for the spot was scheduled for January because of the holidays. However, the blood spot on my finger kept growing and kept rupturing.
-The blood spot ruptured three time and I wound up in the ER after losing about a pint of blood (that was LITERALLY shooting out of my thumb as I sat in the operating room).
-That happened two days before my rescheduled appt, which delayed treatment again.
-Monday I finally saw the dermatologist, got diagnosed with a wayward growing blood vessel (no idea the name, medical users probably know) that he tried to cauterize but it was so big he couldn’t fully stop the bleeding and cauterized around it and sutured the vessel.

That leaves me to today, with sutures, a hand I can’t use, and feeling terrible both mentally and physically. I have been in a constant state of recovery since October, and even know I can’t put pressure on my hand or do much to get my blood pressure up to keep from bursting things. I see my friends doing 100 mile base rides and getting well into training. Meanwhile, I’m at the same FTP I started with in November (which was lower than going into the 2021 season by 15 watts thanks to the surgery).
I’m so frustrated because I try and do everything right, from strength/core training and stretching to a near perfect diet and sleep, but I’m just…struggling.

What would you all suggest at this point? I’ve been doing a LV TR plan and hitting some workouts, but many weeks I’d just do nothing or free rides to feel. Should I completely bag my training so far and start fresh with base, or should I keep going through build given that Monday’s ride (before the appointment) I knocked out a solid 9.0 SS ride for a couple hours but I’m now back to forced light training?

For someone who competes at the pointy end and was targeting the State TT and nationals, my chances of doing anything this season seem impossible.
I will say I have 15 years of hard training in my legs and PRd at 365 watt FTP last year, so it’s not like I’ve never been fast before. But at this point in the year and with my setbacks, I have no idea what to do, as I’ve never been in this situation before.
Thanks for at least taking the time to listen to me vent about my frustrations. Cheers!

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I can’t speak to the bleeding issue but on the mental health side of it my suggestions are:

  • Focus on what you can control; it sounds like you can do easy rides still so do those (caveat: assuming it’s ok with you doctor). It’ll do something to maintain your fitness and also generate some serotonin.

  • You didn’t mention it one way or the other but if you don’t already consider seeing a therapist. I’ve dealt with varying levels of depression for ~30 years and the times when I’ve been willing to go to (and could afford) therapy it has helped. Similar for medication; though I’m less thrilled about it due to side effects of various drugs. Nate mentioned this in a fairly recent podcast; actually, it stuck out to me b/c it seems we take the same drug (Wellbutrin, probably helps me some and unlike the others doesn’t have intolerable side effects (for me) ).

  • 365W is a lot and not that long ago. Once your thumb heals I’d imagine you could regain that.

  • If you’re a podcast listener; the happiness lab by Dr. Laurie Santos has been an interesting listen with occasional useful tidbits.

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Thanks for the input, definitely appreciated.
First, I can do easy rides, just not outside, since I cant squeeze my hand to hold the bars (or brakes!). I’m just not sure if I should keep spinning and pick up my season or just call it quits for a few days the restart base.
Second, I regularly see a therapist (for other mental illnesses). This is very much an acute thing, but it is worth bringing up and talking through. Sometimes it’s hard for non athletes to understand the feelings though…but still worth it!
I will take a look at the podcast-is it on Spotify by chance?
I’m (hoping) thinking this is the tail end of everything, so once the finger heals I can start proper training and not just getting by while I heal.

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Personally I would want to do the easy workouts. I don’t know what impact it’d have on fitness vs laying on the couch but it’d probably do something. Also relates to the aforementioned serotonin bump as well as being something you can control.

I’d recommend bringing it up. Lately a lot of my sessions have been related to a series of (unrelated) acute events. I can understand the athlete issue; I’ve struggled with how much of FTP to explain to my therapist before. Assuming it’s a long(er) term relationship it’s certainly worth explaining to them. Not FTP per se but enough information so you can convey your current level of fitness and which direction it’s trending.

The podcast is on spotify.

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I would do the easy workouts/spins. It’s better than nothing and probably more beneficial to the mental side of things than anything else!

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At the risk of sounding dumb, perhaps you could consider doing some really long (multi-hour) walks/hikes until your thumb heals? I have found during times of despair (work, body or otherwise), walking and being consciously focused on all the things around me is helpful. I do not listen to music or look at my phone, just me and the trees, birds, etc. The caveat is that I am also a science nerd so I find watching outdoor critters do their thing quite fascinating, so YMMV.

The first part of the walk can be a bit disconcerting as my brain is going 150 mph, but eventually I get into the rhythm of things and notice things that I never see riding my bike. I am also generally surprised at how tiring a four-hour Z1 walk can be, but most critically I have just spent a huge chunk of time not thinking about all the crap that was bugging me.

In any case, please hang in there. Once the thumb gets back in shape you will be on your bike and kicking ass again. This shall pass.

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Thanks for your thoughts and wishes on that. Ironically, I went for a 13-mile hike the day before my surgery back in October:-) I would totally go now but I live in Utah and the mountains are covered in all of the snow. But something like that does sound good, as constantly being frustrated with low numbers on the trainer and having to sit. Weird are pretty mentally taxing. I think I can come up with something that might get me through it, that’s a great idea!

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Check out my activity on Strava: Follow Bonn on Strava to see this activity. Join for free.
The hike fyi :grin:
Edit: guess you can’t see it soo



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Wherever you saw yourself this season, whatever you saw yourself performing, that was an illusion. It was never going to happen, it was never the future that was going to be.

What has happened to you is reality. You are doing the best you possibly could given what happened.

You were never going to be where you imagined you were going to be before this happened because that was just in your head.

Don’t compare yourself to the imagined future that you “lost,” compare yourself to where you are despite everything you’ve been through, and how you’ve persisted despite this hardship.

Regretting an imagined future that didn’t pan out only leads to frustration. Focus on how much you’ve accomplished and persisted despite hardship.

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I can totally get behind that, and with mini setbacks that I’ve had throughout my life for various things, including being the victim of bank fraud and identity theft. At one point, I’ve learned that.
… My big question now is what do I actually do for my season? Pick up where I left off, or start base from square one?

At this point, I’d say start over. Think of it as a clean slate/new beginning/moving forward one day at a time/whatever expression works for you :slight_smile:.

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Well, I am a TT specialist and I do love SS workouts…:thinking:

Firstly I’d say that while you’re lost in the trees of the current challenges, someone with your deep level of training and fitness will not lose much in the grand scheme of things when you restart training properly. As others have said I suspect you’ll be back at your pre-trauma numbers fairly quickly, and the more helpful aerobic activity you can do before then will only help.

Secondly, look for the possibility going forward. Maybe you wont be at quite the same pointy end this season, so could you re-focus your season on something else? Different types of events, different role in the team, different type of training to prep for 2023 or just something fun on a bike you haven’t done before? Maybe re-focus on what you enjoy about those events you already do - I bet you didnt start at the pointy end the first few years, so why did you do them in the first place, and why did you keep doing them when winning was never on the cards? Maybe try and reconnect with what you loved about the sport in the first place and let the focus on pure performance and results become very much secondary… Remember what put a smile on your face when you threw a leg over the bike.

I also think it really helps to try and stop comparing and FOMO when looking at your mates and competitors training. Really, who cares if they’re doing 100 mile base rides and you’re not. You can’t, so let it go. It’s easy for that FOMO to even spiral into resentment, so feel good for them and remember you’ll be back with them soon enough.

Good luck and speedy recovery.

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What about changing to a flat bar bike temporarily… my friend did it while waiting on his hand healing fully. Just need to watch you don’t have a tumble and do more damage in poor weather.

Fit flatbars to a bike you might have hanging about with normal pedals just in case?

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Been there before. Pointy end rider, depression prone head, strange body.
I had to take multi year gaps in training and always managed to come back stronger. You will too.
Never stop doing something. Being stationary is death.
Start slow and get longer. Intensity not needed when you have the history in the legs. You can go hard close to your events.
Target late season, you have months. Or target next season even.
No chance in explaining the loss of performance and its effect or meaning. I struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome and could not communicate it.

  • doc, you know how you sprint when a dog chases you?
  • yeah
  • how much it hurts
  • sure it does
  • I hurt like that when doing easy efforts
  • maybe they are not easy
  • they are. I was able to do that effort for 7 hours
  • when
  • 6 months ago. I almost won the race but the bloody Belgian…
  • this can be psychological
  • I am happier than my cat
  • you have good blood values. I don’t see any problem.
  • any other tests?
  • not with these blood values. Take things easy for a while.

At least you know what problem you have :slight_smile:

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Are you excited about training, or does it feel like more of an obligation tied to your fitness decline or previous goals?

Have you ever considered seeing a sports specific therapist? I used one albeit briefly due to only my budget, but he was much easier to relate to on that level than my traditional psychologist is.

You’re not alone, I’ve dealt with set back after set back this past year and it finally knocked the motivation completely out of me. I fought that feeling for a bit but have leaned into it now. I’ll start completely over this year and it’s likely I won’t target much seriously. I’m looking at a year of fluctuation and hopeful positive change and it’s become clear that I need to do a lot of focused off the bike work to get my life to where I’d like it to be. I’m such an all-or-nothing personality that it’s hard for me to mentally take on serious training with all the career and household goals I have.

I’m saying all this because I recognize we tie so much of our identity into training and riding, but, what happens when you can’t ride like you want? It’s good to leave room in your life for other fulfilling things. Good luck in what ever avenue you choose whether it’s back to base, a break from structure or damn the torpedoes!

@Bigpikle I have some big goals for the season, but there are always some fun goals I have on the backburner that get pushed aside for other more ‘appropriate’ training each year. Maybe this year it’s time to finally crack my everesting goal later this summer? And you’re right-riding is fun, it’s not the results that are fun. Thank you!

@Pirate I can’t do a flat bar bike, but you bring up a great idea…I can put my TT bike on my Wahoo and ride that! Especially without having to shift or brake, riding in the aerobars would not put any pressure on my hands. And I’d have the added benefit of goal-specific training too. Thanks for the roundabout inspiration to change things up :stuck_out_tongue:

@kpedal Glad to know others understand how I feel. There are some late season goals I could target instead of my usual early season (LOTOJA is in September after all). And I’d say I AM happier than my cat…but that thing is so dumb it doesn’t know it’s alive, so I’d say it’s the perfect example of blissful ignorance :smiley:

@ibaldwin That’s the thing, my mind is eager to get riding and training, it’s just my body saying ‘nah bro, you’re resting today’. That’s where part of my problem comes from, as I’m eager to get feeling the good pain again, not the bad pain. I’m sorry to hear about your personal setbacks. And I would consider a sports specific therapist, but getting into one that is within network and has availability that isn’t more than a year out in Utah is almost impossible, so I think that option would be tough (but worth pursuing). I have had other very positive things in that time (started a dream job for example), and maybe it’s time to start appreciating that.

Thanks for all the input everyone; it’s exactly what I needed!

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That’s great. Seems like a light back to the bike when possible approach would be good then! Thanks for the wishes, I think it’s just good to know that you’re really far from alone and that so many of us have had set backs in the last two years. I think humans are almost hard wired to focus on our challenges and negative aspects of our lives that we forget about all the good stuff. It sounds like you have some good balance and I hope your body can catch up with your enthusiam! Enjoy the dream job (I started mine about 2 years ago and still love it!) and count the positives, listen to your body and get back after when you’re ready!

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Lots of good advice already, but I would echo there’s who have said just keep doing easy rides.

I’d put the thought of structured intervals and FTP far out of my mind. You are focusing on numbers and it is adding to your stress. Focus on the process and making steps forward and celebrate that forward progress.

Three days in a row of Petit > three days in a row of nothing. And obviously you aren’t limited to just one hour rides.

I had a mass removed from my perineum on NYE. Recovery was fantastic for the first week…zero pain or discomfort. That went to schitt last weekend when a massive hematoma set in (thanks, blood thinners!). By Sunday, it was bleeding and massively swollen. I have been pretty much on full bedrest this week…lord knows when I’ll be able to sit on a bike saddle again. Probably weeks away….

But I know that with my depth of experience, I’ll bounce back relatively quickly. I’m going to start with a lot of Z2 rides and build from there. My “A” event is SBT GRVL and I plan on being there at 100%…and if I’m not, I’m gonna help my buddy who is doing Leadboat get to the finish in SBT.

Control what you can control and let everything else slide along.

Good luck…keep us updated!

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Man, talk about bad luck! That’s a really remarkable run. What follows is a little bit of what I’ve pondered while I’ve been not riding due to injury.

I think it’s ok to feel a bit like shit when things go that bad. My point is, sometimes people feel bad for feeling bad, like, “you are not allowed to feel bad”.

Once the blood vessels in your thumb are sorted out, then it’s back to the bike. It’s hard to be patient… In the meantime, maybe there’s other stuff to focus on and take care of, if no rides can take place? I’ve been grounded with no serious rides for a month and a half now , and while it takes some adjustment, it can give you some time to focus on other things … Is there anything you can get done and out of the way now, so it’s full on riding once you are injury free?

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