Hi. Question for the hive. How do you respond to a slump? At the start of Covid I returned to riding primarily for my mental health. There was a lot of unpredictability and very little suppprt at work and for long stretches we were laid off up to 70% hours. Riding was good for my mental health and great for my fitness. I enjoyed my time on the bike and looked forward to riding
FF to May - a lot of life stress piled on and while I tried to maintain riding and training gradually I couldn’t keep it all together. I started failing workouts (LV climbing in SSB phase) and started finding excuses to not ride - excuses I wouldn’t have accepted 6 months ago (I trained through the winter much of it outside in up to -20 weather so I don’t think I’m a wallflower)
I basically stopped everything for two months. I restarted with train now, nothing more than 45 min, just to be on the bike). Am still not feeling much like riding. Should I persist or is more of a break a better idea?
Full disclosure I’ve had long struggles w mental illness - and am very familiar w cognitive therapy and am using a low dose antidepressant.
I think mostly I want to return to wanting to be on the bike. Particularly outside
Here’s what I’ve found helpful over the years when this happens. Take all the pressure about riding performance away. Get outside and if possible, head to the woods and walk/hike and or trail jog. Relax and don’t worry about fitness loss, etc. Enjoy your time in nature. If you mtb, go out for nature observation rides. Over time you will hopefully find riding to be a joy again. When I was training/racing, once if started to dodge rides, etc. I’d stop the racing and structured training. Riding the bike is too important for me to ruin it for life. If you have friends who are a lot of fun to be around and bring joy and laughter to get togethers, do some of that. Hope you find a combination of things that work for you.
I’ve been here and feel like I’m just starting to come out of a this place myself. To keep it brief I spent 9 months training for my first century and the last month to month and a half of training my workouts started to fall off a cliff. Training wasn’t fun and I really struggled to want to put in the work. There was a large amount of life stress on top. I ended up getting sick a couple weeks before my race and was off the bike for a week, and wasn’t eating which didn’t help. Going into my race I knew I was burnt out, but I felt that I had put so much time in I couldn’t back out. While I finished the race it took me like 4-6 weeks to even want to get back on my bike. What did it for me was just going out and riding with friends. It brought me back to what I love about cycling and took away the pressure of feeling like I had to nail this workout/ interval/ plan. Instead I could just ride when I felt good, and over time began to return to a state of wanting to put in work. I also switched my training plans to polarized for something new and to give myself some easier workouts to look forward to.
You’ll get out of this slump. But just keep in mind this won’t be the last time.
As you get back into it, concentrate on volume, i.e. “Z2”, although a mix of Z1/Z2 is fine too. Use this opportunity to develop a strong base that you’d never get doing Low Volume interval plans. Enjoy the scenery while you’re out there. You can do it alone or with riding buddies, doesn’t matter either way. Also, don’t focus on power, speed, or distance, and instead focus on time in the saddle.
If/when you hit another slump in the future, base fitness/volume is going to be your bailout.
If you’re not feeling it, you’re not ready for it. But if there is something you like doing on your bike (ride through the woods, cafe ride with friends, smash it up a hill), just go and do that. Don’t worry about “training”, wait for the motivation to come back. Life stress if a much underrated limiter to training.
I’m sorry to hear about your situation although I obviously don’t know all the details. Try and forget about FTP etc.
My basic way out of this is to pick a few films I want to watch whilst I train. For me it’s Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. I put those on my tv and do some endurance workouts. Luckily, whilst hat isn’t a magic wand, I seem to have worked 5hrough things, without putting any pressure on myself. It’s more like something to look forward to watching a move rather than dread training , if that makes sense.
Best wishes. My silly Churchill quote, if you’re going through hell, keep going.
My Rush quote, we live in trying times, so we’re the ones who have to try.
Cycling should be fun, and if you want to use it as an outlet for stress, riding should not add to your stress but alleviate it. Riding outdoors, especially offroad, gives me serenity and peace that are hard to replicate elsewhere. It is me time where nobody disturbs me, I have beautiful nature around me and can switch off.
The trainer replicates this for me in a different way: when I tackle hard intervals, I have to block out the world to get through them. Plus, I have the satisfaction of finishing something that is hard. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, find out what does and do that.
I’m working through the same basic thing right now, and I’m doing what others have suggested here. I’ve stopped doing any true training, and I’m riding in ways that make me happy. There’s an early morning fast group ride twice a week that I try to attend. It has always been one of my happy places and pretty much serves as my social life. I enjoy it even though I’m getting dropped more than I used to. I’ve also started commuting by bike at least a couple times a week - something that I haven’t done in years. That might not be enjoyable for some, but I actually kind of like it. Other rides are just whatever I want to do.
It is working. Before I made the shift, I was no longer really enjoying myself on the bike. I wasn’t happy with my performance and I almost dreaded getting on the bike. I wouldn’t say that I’m completed “fixed” just yet, but things are getting better. The things I’m doing may not work for you, but I’m sure you can find the aspects of riding that help bring the joy back. Focus on those. I wish you all the best.
I was in a funk earlier this year after 2+ years of virtually no missed workouts. I was at a peak of fitness, hitting all-time PR’s and training at my highest FTP yet. And then, my boss gave me another team to manage on top of my current team. My son started t-ball and I volunteered to be the head coach. And then, WAM. No interest in sticking to my plan, even though I had an A race coming up in a month. We as humans can only juggle so much stress for so long. For those of us riding already at our limit of stress, we have to recognize that additional stress must be paid for by giving up something else. The approach I took was to take the pressure off the plan, ride for fun, skip workouts without guilt, ride outside more, and just be patient. It took several months before I was ready and I started and stopped a couple times realizing I still wasn’t ready. And then I was ready.
Thanks everyone for the kind and thoughtful responses. I had a feeling I needed to take more time and not try to push the string. I’m going to do as you all have suggested and take some more time and do what I enjoy
For myself, from experience of over 40 years as a cyclist and hobby level cat 3 racer… there are times when I am training for a goal, following structured programming and nutrition, and times when I am just out there riding my bike because I love riding my bike. Sometimes I ride less and incorporate more weightlifting or hiking with my wife. When I come back to the bike, it takes a while to regain fitness for pedaling. But that’s OK.
I think it’s healthy, and more fun, to accept that life is a cycle. There will be ups and downs. There will be times with more riding and times with less riding. Beauty of a bike is it does not judge you. Air up the tires, lube the chain and it’s ready when you are!
Absolutely understand this feeling. Been there too. For myself, I’ve found that after a period away from the bike, or when I’ve let my fitness drop, it can be a genuine struggle to get back into it. That’s because I remember when I was fast and fit and riding was easy!! Well, maybe not easy, but faster with bigger power numbers. After a down period it takes a while (months not days) to regain fitness and get back into it. Give your self permission to work back into fitness and know that you’ll make the round trip many times during your cycling life. Rather than feeling bad about it, enjoy the journey. That 25 miler might be a struggle today, but it will be a distant memory in a few months.
Get Faster with Adaptive Training
Sign up and Download the TrainerRoad app to start training. Available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices.
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast
This is the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. Listen to the latest episode and more.
We Are Here to Help!
Browse hundreds of articles in our Support Center or contact our world-class support team to get back on track.