Quitting a race/anxiety

I’m 47, had quite a few days like you describe over the years in triathlon, running and cycling! Normally (not always) found a way to finish. Always found a way to come back and enjoy racing again. Where I get my enjoyment has evolved over the years. For what it’s worth I largely moved away from timed individual events like triathlon and TT about 5 years ago because I was no longer enjoying the pressure I was feeling (entirely self imposed) to improve my times or placings. I moved towards road racing where the tactical and team elements took the pressure off and enabled me to get enjoyment from aspects of the race other than just the result. I’m still trying to win, or podium, or get points. But I can also take satisfaction and meaning from a race where I finished near the back but was off the front in a break that got caught but might have stuck on another day. Or from getting a team mate in a break and then covering moves. Or sometimes just from racing well and getting a bunch finish in a strong field where most of the riders are a decade or more younger than me.

Another thing I see people do is cycle (pun intended) through different types of riding every few years, moving on as they plateau. E.g. A few years of doing cross, then get into TTing, then road racing, then maybe gravel or MTB which brings them back to cross again but it’s been long enough that the bikes, fields and races have evolved and it all feels fresh again.

One thing is for sure, at 41 you still have many many years of racing ahead of you if you want, just need to find the key to enjoying it again! Good luck!

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This is an interesting comment. There have been two races I’ve done (gravel races) where, out of necessity I had to repeatedly BURY myself in the first 5-7 miles just to stay with the “A” group. In both cases I was not able to make the selection. One of the races still is my all time PR for 4 minute power, and the other is my all time peak 15 minute HR …

…both times I wanted to quit by mile 10, but I thankfully didn’t. In fact I distinctly remember watching the group go up the road and being so deep in the red I couldn’t muster even a half-hearted chase. I remember looking at the grassy ravine by the side of the country road and thinking I wanted to crash my bike into it so I wouldn’t have to admit to my wife and daughter that I quit, instead the reason I could tell them I didn’t finish was because I’d had a crash :upside_down_face:

I clearly wasn’t in my right mind, and glad I finished … albeit in the mid-pack. I still wonder what made it seem so logical at the time to just ride my bike off the road for a bit of a crash. Crazy.

Not sure I have a point here – but agreeing with this correlation between going hard and quitting – which I hadn’t given much thought to before.

Also, to the OP – I’ve only won 1 race in my life. It was 2 days after I turned 47. I didn’t even start racing until I was 43 or 44. I’m regularly competitive for AG top-10s and see the podium here-and-there.

Stick with it. Good luck :metal:


totally normal, imo.

pretty much all endurance races suck until they’re over and you’re able to bask in the accomplishment.

there’s a reason people refer to them as sufferfests.

which kinda begs the question of why do we do this?

but we keep coming back…

also, fwiw, i grew up racing motocross at a pretty high level and i would get pre-race jitters but nothing compared to the anxiety i feel in my mid-40s before a local weeknight MTB race… i have my theories as to why this is but it doesn’t really matter and i just laugh at myself. also, also, at almost 50, age never enters my mind unless i’m focused on recovery.


Thanks all for the helpful feedback and ideas. I suspect off the bike stress is the biggest factor here, and looking back there may be hints of overtraining (or at least too much intensity) as well.

I do regret getting off but there’s no point beating myself up about it.

I’m going to have another couple of days off the bike, then a week or so JRA, and will then see how I feel and maybe recalibrate.


I could have written this post myself, it’s uncanny. Weekend before last I found myself in the middle of a cx race hyperventilating, brain won’t turn off thoughts like “what if I am not good at racing anymore? what if I have long covid and I’ll never get my fitness back?” etc etc
Taking a hard look at your training intensity and amount, and taking into overall life stress might be the key here. This experience made me realize that even low volume plan is too much for me; TR promotes my own tendency to overtrain, especially with the new AI features and plan builder which always seem to demand more and more intensity even when I am failing workouts and marking “too much intensity” on the survey.
For me, it’s a realization that I simply cannot do 3 TR workouts a week, 1 run, 1 strength training, work a fulltime job, and race every weekend. It doesn’t work. I’ve taken a full week off everything and am going to play the rest of the season by ear…like others have said, if it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth it, and if you’re dreading every race like me then be honest with yourself and make some changes…in your plan, in your life, in your goals. Good luck friend, I hope you can get back to it in the way that you want!


Nailed it. I remember winning races and going to work all proud. My boss asked how I did (he was a really good guy who cared) and I told him I won! He smiled, said that was awesome and then told me to get back to work. No one cares. ARE WE HAVING FUN OR NOT? That is what matters.

Great post and glad to see this attitude and reality resonating with people. This is real life.

Awesome. $$$ Quote. Thank you for posting!


I’d say OP should try again. If you quit again then maybe don’t race. I bet OP may have had unrealistic expectations and decided to quit when they weren’t materializing. Racing is much much harder than training. CX in particular puts you in the red zone for just about the whole event. It’s not a long SS interval or anything like that. You’re directly competing with others and the race is super volatile.

I personally feel like not showing up to the race in the first place. I do a bit of mental gymnastics to get myself there and I’m always glad to have come. If you really want to race, it sounds like you’ve got to find a way to deal with not quitting in the race. Sometimes I tell myself, “cmon you can do anything for X minutes” when I am deep in the red and still need to push on

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That is also my go-to thought when something hurts and I don’t want to do it. A couple more minutes in a race and it will probably get easier and I’ll be glad I stuck with it. Or the pace is beyond my ability and I’ll get dropped anyway.

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This also points out that you have to pick the season when you want to perform. If your thing is cross, you should be fit and ready to race going into cross season and then maintain that fitness throughout. You can’t lift, run, and do multiple interval workouts per week and stay fresh to race every weekend. The time to do a build phase for cross was probably back in June or July.

It’s the same if you want to perform mid summer - Base in the winter, build in early winter/spring, maintain fitness through the summer and touch up as needed. It’s not easy to hold fitness for a long time.

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Important to note to that its the first CX race of the season. As others have mentioned CX is a kick in the face even mid-season. I just raced my first CX race of the year, on a familiar course (my teams race) with many miles on my legs this year and many decades of racing CX…i was shelled right away and blown away how hard it was (and it was my 24th bike race of the year). I came away from it questioning everything based on how bad i did and how i felt during the short race… Now i’m slowly coming back and hoping next weekend will get better and i’m sure it will for you too bro…keep it and remember that CX is not an long slog of a tri, road race or any longer form where you can settle in, and that’s gonna affect your outlook and mental space.

Agreed. I have been doing this level of intensity starting in late May, so now is the time to relax a bit. My biggest issue with TR is that it doesn’t do a good job of taking racing into account even when races are entered into the training plan…doing even 3 workouts a week and 1 race on the weekend and nothing else isn’t realistic for most people.

In this circumstance I guess the solution I’d adopt is to drag one of the workouts to race day in Calendar and leave it uncompleted.

That way when I looked back I could at least see why I didn’t do the workout.

@Crosshair I’m sorry to hear this. It sounds really similar. It’s no consolation to me that someone else is struggling, though thank you for making feel like it’s not just me. I hope it gets better.

My power numbers are down too. I held 300 watts for 20mins (low numbers, but I’m 70kg) for the first time about 8 weeks ago; currently, c. 270 for that time is the limit. What’s a bit odd is I know I can physically go harder - I just don’t have it in my head to push there at the moment. When my HR hits about 180-182 (max 187-188) it’s almost like I feel ‘ok, that’s as much as I feel like pushing it’. I’m also a few lbs heavier.

I wonder if this is a bit of a burn out situation for both of us, and perhaps the answer is a month or 2 of binning the power meters and JRA? That’s what I’m contemplating right now tbh.

The other reflection is that I’ve been here before. Too much intensity just hammers me. My gains earlier this year were built on volume, with 2-3 hard sessions a fortnight - not per week. Add in what @laura_a said about strength and running and a busy job, and something has to give. I suspect the brain is kind of putting a ‘rev limiter’ on things in response to what it perceives as excessive stress.

Maybe it’s what happens in the UK :rofl: If you fancy a burned out group ride, let me know :sweat_smile: :face_with_head_bandage:

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If your heart rate is going that high during what should be 20 minute efforts then something is wrong. Not sure if that’s what you’re saying is happening.

This is on a 20 min FTP test. While I’m happy to be corrected, I’d expect to reach close to max HR by the end of that kind of effort.

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I’ve done this too: bail on a race half way through. There is a local race series in the summer here (super close to my home) which is a fast chain gang around a tight, 3 corner, 3 mile loop on poor surface, narrow, country roads with horse boxes and tractors and other cars. It’s seriously good fun masters racing but i’ve seen someone go down almost every time.

Last summer i was riding along, mid pack and just suddenly felt that the risk/reward/effort ratio was no longer worth it. I had a bad feeling that I didn’t want to be there or that something bad might happen. So i let go, dropped off, gave the number back and rode home.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about this since but at 51, 4.3w/kg i have nothing to prove. I’m not going to win. Nobody gives a crap if i do well at racing or not, certainly not me as i only race for the buzz of going fast and having a hard workout. But i do need to not crash and injure myself and have forced days off work with no income. I wish i had discovered cycling 30 years sooner, but i didn’t so i’ve got to be pragmatic about it… So all in all i’m better off on the trainer.

I’m going through the same, age 41. Anxiety, frequent panic attacks. Last race or training session felt exactly like OP describes, so I started winding down training. Haven’t raced this year, was just riding the bike without any goal in mind. Took on swimming. Not on medications or anything, just practicing mindfulness. I wish I had an advice, but I’m in the middle trying to transform myself, mind, thoughts process, values. You are not alone.

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I would say there is plenty of middle ground between riding the trainer and doing a technical race series on narrow roads with a crash every week! E.g. Spirited group rides with people who like to go hard but put safety first. Closed road events where at least you’re not worrying about tractors. Gravel racing (very limited in UK admittedly). Crits on aerodrome and motor racing circuits where there’s plenty of width. Masters racing where people are experienced and have similar risk appetite to you.

I’m similar age, fitness and risk appetite to you, I still race I just choose my races carefully!

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I’d say just take that as your starting point and rebuild around it! Take the power meter off if the numbers depress you. Bin structured riding for a while. Just follow whatever makes you happy and go as hard or as easy as you feel like on that day. Group rides, coffee rides, off road, centuries, whatever puts a smile on your face. Or if riding isn’t putting a smile on your face find something that does - running, hiking, swimming, kayaking, lifting.

Just get back in the habit of exercising most days for enjoyment, at some point I think the rest will follow.