I just wanted to share some of my experience over the last 30-45 days. It might be something others have felt as well at some point or another. Before I start, I’m not looking for advice or help. Encouragement is welcome, but I’m pretty well aware of the situation and mostly at peace with it. This is long, so be warned.
For the past 2.5 years I’ve been the model of consistent training. I think last year I might have missed less than 10 workouts. I exceeded my hours goal of 500 hours and had some success, was energized, and planning 2022 to be even better.
I had my A race (a 50 mile x-country race) planned for 3/26 and was following a training plan to prepare for it.
About a month ago, my motivation just kind of evaporated. I was in the “specialty” phase after coming off some pretty decent VO2Max progressions. My progressions across the board were pretty mature. 7.0+ VO2 and 5.5+ Threshold. I started skipping workouts and went from 12 hours a week on the bike to 5 hours with most of that being a longish mountain bike ride on Saturdays. I did my race. It went fine. I shaved about 17 minutes off my time from last year, but it wasn’t a world-beating performance. After that, my malaise has continued. A recovery week with just a few workouts and long, but fun mountain bike ride last Sunday. At this point, I’m not sure when or whether I’ll be ready to commit to the 12 hours again soon.
A lot I think is at play here that caused this I think.
- I think I came out a bit too hot to start the training season. Nothing obvious, but I’ve been going pretty hard since November.
- I made the decision to be the head coach my son’s T-ball team, which requires practice one night a week and a game that basically conflicts with my biggest ride of the week. There is a fair amount of communication and planning required that I am enjoying.
- I think there is a bit of a covid hang-over in the mix here. I realize the pandemic isn’t over, but the pandemic had kind of confined me to a narrower space and now I’m feeling a little bit like we’re in limbo, but opening up and I’m kind of spreading my legs a bit like a baby foal.
- I picked up Elden Ring which is a video game that I have enjoyed. Not much of a gamer before, but I have a bit of an obsessive personality and my obsession with training kind of got replaced with a new toy. 4am rides, especially easy rides just became boring.
- But perhaps the most provocative of these is that I think I lost faith in TrainerRoad. Not in the product or the people, but the training plans. I’ve been trying to process the opposing view points for the past year and have been trying new things. Adaptive Training in my mind seems like a really nice feature, but I think I strayed when I pretty much completely stopped following a plan and started basically picking and choosing and programming my own workouts. I had an idea of what I wanted my plan to look like, but it was nothing like what TrainerRoad and adaptive training was feeding me and I think the end result after months of kind of going on my own, I got lost and really unsure of what I was trying to do. I was very fit, probably the fittest I’ve been, but had no idea of really what to do and the idea of going back to TrainerRoad and pushing myself to failure on a plan that I didn’t 100% believe in, has been more than I have been willing to commit to at this point.
I’m getting there. (I think). I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I have a vasectomy coming up at the end of the month, so I will have another break to contend with. I’m searching for the motivation, and I think I’ll get it, but I am having a great time with my son’s t-ball team and I’ve realized that the 500 hour goal can be great, but it can also be a leash. Getting off the leash has really opened up some possibilities.
I would like to see some further discussion on different types of training. I think Trainerroad has given it short-shrift so far. Polarized, Sweet-spot and Threshold progressions, and who knows what else. More accommodations for incorporating group rides or other non-workout related work. Workout association is helpful, but frankly it’s not really on my mind to go find a workout that was “like” the ride I just did to make that association. Perhaps the future enhancement to AT that will calculate progressions on non-workout type rides will help, but overall I’m really looking for a new strategy that the Trainerroad tool can manage that I can feel confident in.
I would definitely burnout with that much training and stress. I hope you find your motivation again soon. As for challenging the plans, be careful not to let the quest for perfection inhibit progress. Good luck!
As a father of 3, there’s no way I could do 500 hour years, the most I have mustered is around 325, and that felt like I was putting the bike before family on weekends. I was very hungry to get fit, and have since accepted that I’m probably about as fit (300-340 FTP) as I can get on 290-300 hours per year. I’m 100% ok with that, and am competitive in the races I do.
I think it’s wonderful that your coaching is a distraction and has pulled you away from the bike. That’s a good thing, and your family will appreciate it.
Like you, I started to lose faith in religiously following TrainerRoad plans. There was too much structure, it sucked all the fun out of riding a bike and turned it into “work”. Too much pressure to follow the plan to a T, and not being wise enough to know that missing workouts or modifying them is OK.
My advice to you would be to plan your own training program and use it to achieve whatever level of fitness or competitiveness you’re happy with. Maybe even ignore TR, it’s very easy to get trapped. In my experience, TR in a sense, lead me to believe that workouts should be complex, and that a linear progression is always necessary. But life is not linear. Find joy in just riding and build a life that will allow you to enjoy the bike for many years to come.
And if anything, I don’t think you’ve lost your way. I think you’re finding it.
I think first of all you need to give yourself some credit for everything you’ve achieved. I’m a student with supposedly much more free time and I’m proud when I manage to put in 12 hour weeks consistently.
I think it’s perfectly normal to lose motivation from time to time, especially after the completion of your A-Race. After all, we’re doing this for fun and it’s not our job, so we don’t have to put in the effort week after week for years. And it’s not like you’re wasting the free time time you’ve gained. (I’d love to try elden ring, but I’ve sold my PS4 to buy a power meter )
Concerning the TR issue: This really resonates with me. I think the super structured approach really works to get one through the winter, more even if you’re stuck on the indoor trainer. And TR really helps to get you into structured training in the first place. But when I ramp up the volume an start to do almost all of my riding outdoors, it’s just not sustainable. So in addition to my cycling hobby, I am now an avid amateur researcher of training methods to self coach myself (sadly, I can’t afford a personal coach). So I would advise you to take the time off and get back to Training when it feels like the right thing to do again, maybe with a different approach that the TR plans.
Sounds like you may be getting burned out from all of the structure/high intensity intervals TR has you doing?
As a high volume z2 fanboy I would recommend increasing the volume if possible and adding a few loose interval sessions a week, do this for 8 weeks and see how you feel? I am never surprised people burn out on TR plans when they are literally doing more intensity and structure then world tour pros.
Yup! It happens! Enjoy your time off and we will see you again in a few years!
I go though this exact thing about every 4-5 years (been racing/training since 12 years young).
While there may be some truth in that statement as the issue has been covered numerous times in the forum… that is NOT relevant with respect to the OP and their current state.
In point #5 above, they call into question the TR plans, but then lead right into the following:
… but I think I strayed when I pretty much completely stopped following a [TrainerRoad] plan and started basically picking and choosing and programming my own workouts.
It’s seems that they pushed training via manual control, along with personal life to a new level, and found that was not functional in one or more ways. TR plans are not the root cause, or even a direct contributor in this instance. So, let’s keep that in mind and avoid pointing fingers at the TR plan as the “burnout” factor here.
True, but he is specifically asking for “further discussion on different types of training”. If he is shying away from lower volume high intensity/structured training then the next logical type of training would include higher volume, less intensity, less structure.
Pointing to a new direction is fine.
Pointing to TR as even a leading cause in this instance is misleading.
to clarify, the experimentation I was doing was more Z2, and less intervals. I wasn’t on a “TR plan” when I decided this route. I do think more volume, but less intensity is something I’m interested in, but this wasn’t TR’s plans that burned me out. Perhaps a lack of a plan that inspired me, but not burn out due to a TR plan.
Thank you for sharing and being transparent. It is tough to be honest with emotional / mental health topics.
I experienced similar burnout at the end of last season. I was just tired on getting my a$$ kicked four days a week with high intensity workouts (including sweet spot).
I committed to taking a true offseason for the first time ever since starting structured training three years ago. I did FasCat’s 10-week Weight Training Program, which is basically leg-focused lifting while doing the equivalent of TR’s traditional base mid-volume plan.
I also decided to try the TR Polarized base plan for at least the first base season. Lack of sleep has always limited how much training stress I could recover from and POL MV provided the balanced amount of training stress. I saw gains and liked it so much that I repeated POL MV for base 2.
I’m actually doing three weeks of SSB II MV as a bridge until I start my build phase and am seriously considering doing POL Build MV. I don’t race and all of my events are centuries, fondos, etc. so, for me, I don’t think there’s a huge difference. In the end, the decision is going to come down to the fact that I enjoy the POL plans more. I have to remind myself frequently that I don’t get paid to ride and I do it because I enjoy it and like being fit. I don’t need to dig myself into a hole that degrades my mental and emotional health.
If it helps, look at my training calendar for the last three months. I did the POL Base (6-week) MV plan twice but added in a bunch of (traditional) Z2 time. While all of my long rides were inside I hope to shift them outside once it gets warmer.
Anyway, I’m digressing. Thank you for being open and transparent.
Best comment so far.
Almost all of us hit periods like this…how we respond / return from them helps shape our future approaches to training.
Reiterating a quote from a BMX coach that I follow:
There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
The only way it can be a failure is if we don’t take the time to review, learn from and then grow/change for our actions/choices in the future.
The simple act of writing a summary like this is a HUGE first step. Posting it for sharing and asking for feedback is equally important and beneficial to another level.
As a perfectionist and someone that spends too much time looking for the “ideal” in so many things, recognizing that coming up short or totally blowing up are likely more valuable in life than “successes”. Bask in the imperfect and see what you can do to take the best from it for your future goals.
“I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
Motivation can be fickle.
12 hours per week and 500 hours is a tough nut to crack with a family. We’ve had some topics on quitting that you might want to read. I raced a little as a junior, a little in college, and then I did 5 years straight after college in my 20s. I saw people go through the arc of being a racer to getting burned out or losing interest or getting married or having kids and then quitting. Just know that if you change your direction with cycling, you won’t be the first trail blazer here to quit racing.
I quit after my 5 years straight. I started losing motivation. I was spending 20-30 hours per week between training, driving to races, and then being at races all weekend. I questioned where it was going to lead me. I knew it wasn’t to a pro contract so it was simply whatever personal fulfillment I could pull out of it.
I’m semi-retired and my kid is getting older now and 8-10 hours per week still feels like the most I want to do. I don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to train and I don’t feel it’s fair to the family to disappear all weekend on cycling adventures.
As far as training goes, I think you are on the cusp of either needing a coach or learning how to self coach. Some people make the later a hobby unto itself. It’s fun if you are into it!
Sounds like me in 2020. In 2019 I had my best year ever winning 4 races and the overall point series. I capped 2019 finishing one of the hardest MTB 100s. So excited I was for 2020 and moving up in category that I couldn’t wait to start training. Winter of 2019-2020 training went well and like you, adding to HV plans with my own adjustments to make it even better. Obviously the pandemic stress and canceled races made a mess of the season and I only ended up having 1 race in June 2020. That race went ok but I was completely burned out both physically and mentally soon after.
I lost all motivation to train and I could no longer hit my workouts. I had short power, but no ability to push longer efforts. After struggling for about a month I realized I was in fact burned out. Also, the kids had recently got me into playing Fortnite and I instantly became addicted. I had so much fun playing Fortnite with my 3 kids that getting on the trainer became a horrible chore. I went all in on Fortnite and it basically replaced my passion for cycling.
So I ended up taking a month off the bike and off the TR forum. Basically, I removed all things cycling out of my life for a month. Then, for the following month I only allowed myself to go on fun MTB rides a couple times a week without my bike computer. These MTB rides felt almost forced and for a few weeks I thought I might even give up cycling. I didn’t even enjoy it anymore. I had gone basically 2+ months without structured training and I wasn’t particularly excited to get it restarted.
I began low volume SSB1 because I thought I needed to and the first few weeks felt forced. I just didn’t care about cycling/training but I thought if I just started I would come around. It took about 4 weeks (now 3 month since my break) but by the end of low volume SSB1 I was back in the grove of training. Following SSBLV I continued with my normal training SSBHV1 & 2 and I was luckily back to normal. The winter of 2020-2021 went well as did the 2021 season as I saw lifetime power PRs and podium finishes. So there’s light on the other side of the tunnel.
So my perspective, you don’t need better or different training, you need a break.
reiterating others that we all eventually overtax ourselves. I’m going to make a hot take statement. Structure is overrated. Have an overarching goal for periods of your season to focus on particular parts of your fitness profile, and then incorporate those into rides when you’re feeling good. Listen to your body, don’t follow a strict schedule. Ride hard on days your feeling good, hop on the bike and ride without power when you’re not. It won’t change the outcome that much. Enjoy the bike again, the fitness will come
Unless structure is your jam and source of motivation. Rode last night with T-man, a rare easy ride with someone other than my shadow. On a short pitch he asked “what W/kg are you doing?” I dunno, its not on my computer. He said “you can put it on.” And I said, yeah I know, but its so depressing I’d quit cycling if I had to constantly look at. True story. Motivation can be fickle. Find your happy place.
Here’s the funny thing about training. Polarized training and LSD training both work for me, but I burn out from the volume. I have to do them in small doses (meaning a month or two at most). I did both late last year early this year and then switched to SS Base and was amazed that for the first time in a LONG time, SS was fun and motivating for me again. The LSD work especially worked for me, but i just got bored with all the hours. I guess I’m just reiterating what we’ve all said already. We’re all different, we’re not pros, and we should do what works best for us personally and keeps us motivated.
Variety is the spice of life … or something like that!!