Go do something fun - whether on the bike or off. I live in the mountains in Colorado and we’ve had a long winter with all the snow. I don’t ski, and riding my fat bike keeps me motivated for only a few months. We had our spring break last week and we were able to drive south to the desert and warmer climes. A break from the routine for the past 5 months and riding some sunny warm trails on my MTB was an energizer for sure.
Consider reframing, and riding all Z2 for a while? That way that won’t be failure, but executing. Consistent work always beats optimal intervals on the long term…
I had my own struggles with motivation and execution. Typically I’d execute the plan well in winter and progress steadily. But then spring would come, and I’d be falling off a cliff and losing fitness.
In my case that was often caused by the one-two punch of illness and increased work-related travel in the summer months. I’d lose a couple of weeks of training, fail my intervals coming back, dial down, find my groove again; only to get sick again or have to travel again. After a couple of rounds on that infernal cycle I’d give up and lose all the winter gains.
Z2 has been a game changer for me. I rarely dread a workout and usually am eager to ride more as soon as I step off the bike.
Work travel/illlness is much easier to take in my stride with Z2, as failure is no longer binary. If I can’t do 2hours at my power coming back from travel I just shrug and do 1hour, knowing it will only take a couple of days to return to feeling like I used to.
And as a cherry on the pie AIFTP just gave me my highest FTP ever while I still feel like there is heaps of room to grow…
Which is why I think you should consider easing on the interval work if you are struggling with motivation. Just saying what I wish someone would have told me in the previous summers of flaming out!
Intervals are very productive and very powerful, but they need consistency. And consistency feeds off routine, habits and a feeling of achievement. If your routine is broken through no fault of your own and outside of your control (e.g. by Covid), intervals are very hard to get back into! Especially because failure replaces the feeling of achievement when you fail your workouts, have to lower power or feel absolutely rubbish doing something that « should be » very doable!
Consistency without routine is extremely, extremely hard!
This was essentially going to be my advice. If motivation is low or you’re still suffering from Covid, but you’re able to ride, keep riding, but worry more about consistency. You won’t lose much fitness and I’d argue it’ll be better for your mental health than quitting completely and feeling guilty.
Holy moly that’s a stunning landscape. Nothing like that around but I get you point.
And thanks everybody for the suggestions. I have struggled with depression in the past and it’s definitely playing a role. Add to that work stress and a weird sleep schedule, and possibly a bit of overtraining. I think I need to take a step back and some time off the bike. Or at the very least take some time off structured training and ride for fun. I have a MTB that hasn’t been ridden in a few years mostly because I don’t have a ton of trails close by in my new location. Though I haven’t really looked that hard. Although as I’m writing this I’m thinking of things I used to do for fun before cycling, and I want to play basketball again. My gym usually runs pick up games a few times a week so maybe I’ll do that. I think I’m burnt out on training right now and need some fun.
I’ve been through these spells. One thing that gets me over the hump is getting back into the habit. You can set some super achievable goal, like getting all suited up to ride outside and then pedaling easy for 20-30 minutes. Maybe it feels great once you are out there and you do an hour or more. Or you just do that 20-30 minutes a day as maintenance until you feel ready to hit it harder.
I went through this last year. Happened after several stressors entered the picture and I think it was just too much stress and something had to give. Had some fatigue from some getting up for my A race, new responsibilities at work were assigned to me, took on responsibility for coaching my son’s baseball team, among other things. You can only juggle so much and with intervals being so hard generally, I think that’s one of the first things to give mentally. I rode it out. Did a lot less on the bike. Went from 40 hour months to 20 hour months. I stopped stressing about the bike time and just made sure I did the other things well. It lasted about three months and then summer came. Lots of outdoor (fun) riding. I started toying with fewer intensity days per week and found that really helped. Got back on track after that. I don’t think there is silver bullet other than giving yourself some grace and taking your time.
I’m going through the same thing right now. had a crash 5 weeks ago when I was in great form. Have struggled to get back on the bike since. I’ve ridden a few times and enjoyed it when the weather was nice. but now winter is approaching and i can’t face the indoor trainer. @dmalanda suggests Z2 rides for a while, but strangely they’re my least favourite ride, especially indoor Z2. but I like @makahle1s view of only 30 minute workouts. establishing an easy routine will probably work for me
I can sort of relate. I was feeling constantly tired and demotivated to ride. I recently had a health checkup (55 yrs old) as was found to have anaemia. I asked my doctors if this could be the cause of my low energy and motivation and they said it most definitely played a part. I’m now getting treatment and hope to be back to full training soon. Bottom line is perhaps have a chat to your GP.
This sounds like classic fatigue. Proper fatigue, not just a day off type fatigue. It happens to me sometimes but it’s happened so often I know what to do. You need to get off the bike and wait to actually want to get back on it to train, you will want to get back on at some point but your body will tell you, you can’t tell your body. When you’re actually excited to get back on, that’s when you’re ready. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a normal part of the training process. Sounds like too much intensity plus Covid plus work. It’s a classic slam dunk for fatigue tbh.
Add me to the list. Just failed my second VO2 Max workout in a row. Got half way through my 3rd 3 minute interval of 6 and again the legs just didn’t want to know.
Bailed and jumped into a 90 minute Z2 ride and felt absolutely great.
Not sure if I’m just trying to go harder than I’m capable of, but I was fully carbed up and had a day off yesterday, and should be fresh. Legs just felt flat when going over threshold for a sustained period of time.
Anyway, time to pivot. Ride for fun for a bit. Try not to lose too much cycling fitness. Get some lifting done. Hit it again in a couple or three months.
I totally get this. However, can I logic at you for a second?
You won’t lose all your fitness.
What’s worse. Losing a little fitness or losing the enjoyment of cycling?
My (unqualified) advice: take at LEAST two weeks where your training calendar is clear. Completely empty. Ride if you want to, don’t ride if you don’t want to. You’re not going to lose a whole bunch of fitness, and more likely, you’ll be itching to get back on the bike towards the middle/end, and you’ll hit your upcoming workouts perfectly. TR will adjust your workouts, don’t worry about that bit, but you’ll DO BETTER if you want to be there.
I took 4 months off the bike and trained and did a marathon at the beginning of last season. I just didn’t feel like being a cyclist any more. After a month or two of running training, I began to get that itch to be back on the bike, and by the time my marathon came around, I was absolutely ready to grab my cycling shoes again.
Actually the Z2 thing is maybe a red herring and down to an individual preference. The points I wanted to make are actually:
Consider setting goals that are easier to achieve, so you can hit them with consistency (also when you inevitably suffer setbacks). If you need to summon all your willpower to get on the bike to do a workout every workout, that is not sustainable. If you are dreading getting on the bike rather than eager to get on the bike more than once a week, you know deep down that is not sustainable and something needs to change
Find a way to establish a routine that is sustainable for you. Ideally that routine takes away any decision regarding stepping on the bike, so you don’t need to fight to summon motivation to do your workout
Consciously plan on how to deal with interruptions to the routine, as life will inevitably throw you curve balls
Also be very, careful when the sun comes out again and motivation returns with a vengeance and pushes you to do more than you can handle
Finally, set mid-term goals that makes it worth it to ride. If your goal is to beat Pogacar up Alpe D’Huez, you are guaranteed to lose all your motivation before reaching it. If your goal is to crush your previous PR in the local summer race, you might have a better shot
It took me a long time to realize and internalize the cliche that “Motivation is not your friend”. It really isn’t in our sport: motivation will inevitably peter out and leave you spent and worse off than it found you. I think it was Amber that once said “Use motivation to build new habits”, and that is truly the best way in my opinion. Never let motivation directly dictate your daily actions, use it deliberately to raise your long-term level.