Feeling lousy and unmotivated

Lately I’ve been having trouble completing my workouts. Part of it has been a lack of motivation, with no races or events to look forward to. The other part seems to be physical, or at least a mental obstacle manifesting physically if that makes sense.

I started using TR in Feb of this year w/ an FTP of 263. I trained inside my house and flew through the workouts and felt great. Next FTP test I’m up to 282. Still very consistent and completing all the workouts, even choosing harder versions a lot of the time. Bump up to 288 (set FTP manually to 290) around late April / early May. I can still do the workouts, but mental fatigue sets in as there are no events.

Around this time I also move my bike to my garage as my wife and I both work from home due to COVID, and both use the trainer. Our workout room was also in the office we share, and it got rather annoying with someone riding while the other works. I live in Arkansas, and if you know nothing else about this state, it’s hot and humid in the summer.

I know my inability to finish workouts is a mix of things: unmotivated, heat / humidity from moving to garage, poor diet since COVID started (although it’s not terrible, just not as good as it would be with events on the horizion).

I want to start seeing improvements again. My FTP dropped on my last test (back to 282) because I’ve kind of taken a break in my training, and have been trying to enjoy the bike more by riding outside. When I get on the trainer and do hard intervals, I experience several things that I wasn’t experiencing when I began with TR. These are:

Heavy legs. I used to be able to will my way through a workout, no matter the difficulty. Now I fail at workouts I used to be really good at (ex. Baird +6), even with the FTP drop. Even with a couple of easy / recovery weeks under my belt. Like I said, I’ve been lax in my training, partly because I felt like I needed a mental and physical break. Coming back I hoped to cruise through workouts like I used to. Hasn’t been the case.

Gasping for air. Ever since it started heating up and getting humid here, I’ve struggled. Like I said, I moved the trainer to the garage. I hoped it would help me acclimate, and I’ve always enjoyed riding in the summer heat here. Riding in the garage seems different than riding outdoors in the heat. I have a good fan, the door open, and am shaded. I still struggle. Should I give it more time to acclimate? It’s only getting hotter here. Should I figure out a way to move indoors, and forget trying to acclimate?

Lastly, I’ve noticed my forearms becoming fatigued during my workouts. I’m fairly experienced, and am not death gripping the bars. I have a very relaxed hand position, and don’t understand why my forearms in particular become so fatigued during a workout. Could this be interrelated to the other issues I’m experiencing?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any advice.

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I personally started to pick up (trail)running again for a mental boost.
Just once a week (for now) for a bit of variation.
On top of the cycling training.
I also notice a much quicker “wow this feels good” reaction than I do with cycling.
And it offers a new goal including the fast newbie gains.

I usually do this in the winter when things get a bit more “depressing” for a mental boost.
But this time feels pretty much as winter to me right now so I decided to start it now.
And for me it has a positive effect.

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I’ll give that a try for sure. I love trail running, and used to run 50k’s before my knees gave me issues. It’s been a while though. Thanks!

(From my personal experience.)
Start short distances.
With your cycling cardio you can easily run a long distance without getting really fatigued.
But your muscles and joints wont agree and you will soon do more harm than good.
Made the mistake myself a couple of times and it cost me up to a week to recover hindering my cycling training.

The stress of external factors can be rather insidious when it comes to training effectively. You may only be handle 1 or 2 intensity sessions a week instead of 3.

Consider switching to process goals instead of outcome-based goals. Or if outcomes are preferred set a BIG, Hairy goal that will challenge you in multiple dimensions like scheduling & planning, simplifying ,trade-offs, the actual training, gear selection and preparation etc.

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Since the rise of the temperature I experience something similar. Last Monday I was able to do 2x30 at threshold with HR elevated couple beats and on Saturday I only managed 15 minutes of the same intensity and pulled the plug because it has turned into VO2 max workout in terms of HR. The 30s/30s workout went ok but longer, steady efforts (my favourite workouts) are not manageable. I am waiting for a third fan to test if it will make workouts better. Nearest hill longer than 1 minute is 100 km away, so only flats to ride and to reach suitable road it is 1h ride, so 2h workout turns into 4h ride. Whole situation and not able to do workouts leaves me deflated mentally.

Honestly I am not a huge fan of riding outside, no friends to ride with, extremely boring, flat city and I see my future fitness plummeting during the summer and it makes the situation even worse… so maybe a little bit different situation but similar mental state. I also seek for the solution, especially that I do not feel the joy of riding a bike (despite that my fitness improved tremendously I can ride a lot faster and for longer) but rather guilt and feel of failure of training. Currently I am longing the autumn and winter when every training session was a great amount of joy. Maybe one successful training session can chance everything - I do not know.

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Totally agree with this, I started running just before lock down started in the uk, started with 0.7 miles, felt I could have gone further, but first few my legs killed me and could hardly walk the day after, 3 months later on one short and one longer run per wook doing 10k @ 7min mile pace, and feel ok the next day(ish)

Oh and mixing it up is helping me stay motivated

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This sounds perfect for you in your environment, the flats, though it costs more than a top of the range smart trainer!


Have never used one, but the idea sounds good.
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Just a thought for when unmotivated. Not sure where I read it (probably some annoying motivational poster) but the quote goes:

Doing it badly is good enough.

Essentially if I’m having a bad time, and I raised it here before my mental health is somewhat variable, just doing a bad job is better than nothing. 10 minutes studying is better than nothing, a 30 min easy turbo is better than the sofa. So no matter how bad the effort is, it’s worthwhile, I also find the little efforts get longer and longer.

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Having the wife, kids and myself at home it’s very tough during lock down and I think that people are just beginning to realize the mental effects this is having on people.

Maybe set a longer term goal like a ride across a country or state for next year - start planning it out and set your training at a low level to head that way. I was going to do another coast to coast here in the UK with my best ridding buddy but it’s been cancelled so now were looking at a much longer event next year to try and keep some motivation. This involves route planning, places to stay that kind of thing…

And sometimes you just need to accept a week off and go for some nice long walks with the family and enjoy just being. I’ve suffered with mental health issues for a few years and it’s tough so you have to try and look for the positives as much as you can. As @firemunki says doing something is better than nothing.

It could also just be cooling - I have the same issues there.

Also be kind to yourself and those around you as much as you can and remember to breathe. When i feel a bit down I often watch this vid it seems to hit a cord with me for some reason it may not for you.

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definitely would chalk up the gasping to being on the trainer in the garage. I tried a trainer in a porte-cochere in Memphis and was near death, LOL. Can you go compare to a ride outdoors and see if that changes it?

Motivation is huge; without it, medium workouts seem impossible. We need purpose. Try to reframe the workouts as not only for races, but for your development over time. Things we do this season have rewards years down the line if we’re consistent. maybe a mindset shift would help!

good luck!

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I was in a similar position to you, worked hard all winter to get 280+, races cancelled, became unmotivated with this, plus many other life “issues”.

Took 1 week off completely (hard to do) then started the MV “maintenance plan”, with, depending how I feel, either trails runs, other TR workouts, or riding outside on the plan off days.

Mentally it has completely refreshed me, the workouts are different and I enojoy the running. I think I’ll keep doing this until Sept and then start all over again with base.

What’s your TSB?

I’ve done workouts outside and they are definitely easier (mentally). There’s motivation, and the cooling is better. I bought a second Lasko fan yesterday, so hopefully that helps. But as you know living in Memphis, it’s not even that hot around here yet.

Thanks for the advice.

Thanks for the advice. I think shifting my motivation from racing is probably a good idea. I was focused on crits and road racing, but there’s a 900+ mile gravel route in my state that I may try to tackle this fall/winter.

It is a weird time for mental health, and sometimes riding the trainer seems like the last thing I should be doing with everything going on. Taking some time away from the trainer the last two week has helped cure the burnout I was probably feeling. I’ll check the video when I get some time today. Cheers.

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Lots of garage floors are not level with a slight ramp up as you go further in. Since moving into the garage, is there a chance that your trainer+bike is now angled down a bit as if you are descending?

You know, probably. I had to make some adjustments with it leaning to the side causing some saddle sores, but didn’t think about it leaning forward. I’ll check that out.

Wow, I can only dream of 900 miles of gravel, being from the relatively small island of the UK.
I’d love to do the lake Tahoe trail one day too as that just looks awesome. Doubt it’ll ever happen but hey ho.

Try not to get too deflated mate - you’ve made stellar progress, even if you lose a few watts.

I’m in the dumps too - about a week of insomnia has seriously affected me. I’m still motivated, but can’t deliver the goods! I tried the Kolie Moore FTP test and only lasted 25 mins (2w gain) - I know my TTE is way better than that. Also just made myself do Rattlesnake +1. Last time I flew through it - today it felt like one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done :dizzy_face:

Here in solidarity as well. Rough week for me, sleeping has sucked and I’ve finally pulled the plug on any training this week. Overall motivation is OK but I feel like I can’t express the fitness I have at the moment, it’s frustrating.

I’m actually trying to find a sports psychologist right now as I have a pattern of mental and physical burnout.

The things that work for me are breaks from the bike, breaks from the trainer, breaks from intensity. I’m also realizing that I get a weird “reverse” seasonal mood problem during the summer and it’s on me now. I used to have this issue in the winter months, so strange.

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