Rock bottom, and stuck

I’ve really been struggling on the bike for the past three months and I can’t find myself getting back. I’ve tried resting and then putting in the hours. In the past, when I’ve been in bad form it’s been due to time off being sick, end-season break and such. I’ve always gotten back after putting the hours in again.

This time it’s different: I had a decent start to the year and season, January – April, with some good racing results, nice power numbers, PR on climbs and so on. I was struggling with motivation and discipline now and again but nothing to serious. In May it was time for my to go back to Europe (I split my time between Central America and Scandinavia). I felt I was getting depressed, like I have been throughout my entire adult life. Anxiety was kicking in and I had some troubles maintaining my training schedule. I was lacking in form due to having 3-6 days of breaks now and then. But as soon as I got a few good days of training in a row I felt I was getting back quickly. This is what I would say the normal physical reaction for me.

The depression and anxiety got worse and in June I decided to go to my hometown to stay with my mum. I had a decent training week mid June with one particular super fantastic day, maybe my best day ever to be honest. It was raining and it was cold for the season but I was flying, sadly I had to call my mother to pick me up after I have had two flat tires (Had one in total the past two years). Anyway, my cycling moral and motivation was on top and I was looking forward to the second part of the season and using cycling to fight my psychological issues. The day after my super day was a decent 4-5 hour zone 2 ride, a then had a recovery day with a nice spin in zone 1 as usual. The day after that felt like a bad day and the next day was a disaster. This was mid-June and I haven’t been able to turn this around yet. Some days I feel okey and think I’m getting back, it’s turning around, just to really struggle for the second part. I just focus on doing zone 2 rides since I don’t see the point of doing any intervals right now. My power is down, my pulse is up, my decoupling is a true disaster and the general feeling on the bike is just crap. I often think I’m riding at 200 watts just to see I’m at 175. My longer zone 2 base rides has been around 200 watts and it has come very natural and easy for me, of course with fatigue at the end. Now I can struggle with it, like I don’t know how to do it. I have tried different power meters and calibrated and so on so I know it’s my performance.

I put in 600-700 hours a year normally and I don’t test much. Last year I did 10 minutes at just under 6 watts/kg so I’m neither a charity ride cyclist or a professional. I have had blood tests done to rule out infections, anemia and lack of minerals, vitamins.

I’m getting very worried about the few years left of my racing career, and I’m getting tired of trying. I don’t want to quit but I’m not going to continue like this.

Has anyone any experience about anything like this? Or does anyone have any ideas what it could be. Am I making a fuzz out of nothing?


Have you tried taking some time off (multiple days/week) since this started in June? Some proper rest? It may be what you need and I assume this is off season for you, its a good time to try it.

Yes I have tried taking a week off, it didn’t pay off. I actually have some big stage races in November and December. If I can get back.
And I have been on a lower volume before I ran off this cliff.
The only thing I can pin point is that I got bad a few days after I moved into my old childhood room which doesn’t have the best air quality.

For the depression and anxiety, is this something that impacts your entire life, or strictly feelings related to cycling? I assume the former, and you need to address that, your mental health first, and not worry about training. Having family with mental health issues, it takes time and patience. Not an overnight fix. But focus on that, and don’t worry about cycling. I would only use the bike as a ride how you feel. If you feel like riding, go. If you don’t, don’t. Don’t worry about how long or how hard. Think of only as something fun.

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It affects all my life. I have been depressed before without it affecting my physical health or cycling. The cycling has often been the key to keep me above the surface, and turn really bad days to good days. It doesn’t do that anymore I’m afraid.

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Have you seen a therapist re: your depression / anxiety?


I’ve not felt quite this low but have had a few dips with similar symptoms over the last couple years, and I recognise so much of what you’re describing! It’s really hard, especially when your main source of stress relief becomes a stressor.

I’ve done all the usual expected diagnoses - early stage overtraining so take some time off; nutrition issue; vitamin issue; adjust training focus; etc. At various points some of those have helped a bit but never really seem to unblock whatever is sticking for me.

In the end with every single instance of experiencing something like this it has come down to a need for more ‘soul’ riding for me. It’s never really that I can’t handle the volume or the TSS or the structure or that my nutrition isn’t good enough to keep me going - I’ve always been at least OK enough with those things to get away with it, even if I haven’t been perfect.

My issue is that I took to the bike as a way to escape and feel free. When I first started pushing myself and building up my abilities it was about stretching to a bigger, madder, wilder adventure. Then I found structure and became ‘actually’ strong, started racing, targeting events, maximising the efficiency of my training time, being conscious of the training relevance of all my time spent riding, etc. That’s been amazing and I don’t regret it at all, but now that I’m conscious of broadly maintaining a z2 and fuelling focus on even my most unstructured all-day adventures I’m never quite as psychologically free as I was when I first started trying to see how far the bike could take me.

If I don’t give myself a good dose of that original sense of freedom on a regular basis my training stalls and I start to experience what you’re describing again. It’s frustrating because that usually comes right after perfect adherence to a really solid training block that yields decent gains, but that’s how it goes for me. It probably means I’ll never be quite as strong as I could get if I were psychologically unburdened and could train like a machine, but as long as I remember to keep it in check I can still keep progressing at a decent rate.

So now (when I remember to keep on top of this) I try to make sure that once a week I ride primarily for fun (with that loose eye on z2 so as not to derail my training) and then once a month or so (or after each major event) I do something which is really just for my soul and where I’m not even tempted to keep an eye on training outcome. A group ride which is well within my abilities but where I lean into the odd sprint/chase/etc. is good. A big gravel epic to tackle a long/tough/new route often works well. A bikepacking weekend could be good (unless I’m prepping for a bikepacking race!) It will be different for everyone, but the main thing is it needs to be the kind of ride I love and should be set up in a way that I won’t be tempted to worry about how it’s going to impact on next week’s training.

I still lose track of this. My partner usually has terrible training advice, but she can spot this trend fairly well. She’ll say something like “I don’t think bike riding is fun for you right now,” and it’s hard for me to hear and my initial reaction is usually to highlight what is still fun about it or to justify strict training discipline by pointing to the ‘fun’ of the upcoming event, but she’s almost always right when I zoom out a bit and think about it less reactively.

That’s very N=1. You might be dealing with something totally different, but there’s enough crossover in your description that I recognise myself in it, so my experience might be relevant.


OP, this sounds like textbook Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).

I have been going through much the same and cycle for much the same reasons as you. Despite having 1 day off a week here and there, sometimes our bodies just accumulate fatigue more than others especially when we have underlying mental health issues (which affect the body far more than people may realise).

Sadly I have come to the realisation that even a week off the bike is not going to cut it. OTS takes 4-12 weeks to recover from, and there is no way of knowing how long it will take until you are fully recovered. The length of time it will take depends on how overtrained you are.

I know this may hurt to hear but most likely you will need to cancel your upcoming events/races and just go cold turkey on riding for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. It is hard to accept this reality but just know that in the long term you are doing yourself a favour.

Training over the top of OTS can induce permanent physiological changes in your musculature that will forever ruin your cycling, so it’s important to really not do any more damage.

Good luck.

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Hey @Nicleza, I am sorry to hear you’re struggling on the bike and that the depression and anxiety are affecting all aspects of your life.

I would agree with @KonaSS. Seek to address your mental health first through professional advice, and don’t worry about cycling. Ride when you feel like it, as I think it should be something that’s enjoyable and not something that should add stress.


I’m about to, any day now actually.


I’ve considered over training as well but I don’t have any other symptoms than poor performance. I’m not tired, don’t struggle with recovery or so on.
I’m definitely keeping it in mind and see it as a possibility, even if it would hit at a weird time, after a month with lots of recovery and rest.

That certainly sounds odd. I would argue that poor performance is a symptom of poor recovery! But you know your body best and I’m no professional. Hoping everything goes in the right direction for you.

Glad to hear that….I’m clearly not a mental health professional, but it sounds like this is where you need to start.

Hope it helps!

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I had been really struggling mentally in first half of year, diagnosed with depression etc. I completely understand your situation as bike was my only happy place where but it has ended with mental struggle. It’s not matter of training itself but rather the mentall toll that goes with training. I was so drained by everything in life that sitting on the bike and doing anything was too much mentally. And I cannot separate my bike mind from everything else in life, those things are overlapping for me. Even I am good with compartmelization. Mental battery is one, and if it’s drained there is no easy solution for me.

I had taken 3 months brake to organise my life and mental health a little bit more. I have lost all the gains on the bike but the brake caused hunger for cycling. I have returned 6 weeks ago to training and it was more than needed for me.

My take is - take care of your mental aspect, get help and work on this. There is no point pushing (tried this) where world around you is crumbling. In the grand scheme of things another threshold or z2 seems pointless in this situation. For me there is no cycling and training without, at least, stability mentally.


I agree. It’s just weird that I would get overtrained from doing 10 hours/week while not working when being fine doing 15-20 hours on the side of a full time job. I know our bodies and minds work in mysterious ways but I am not totally certain this is overtraining.
But I am not ruling it out but I’m not ready to take 2 months off and find out it wasn’t overtraining after all.

I would stop racing, take all the PM off, find some friends and take some time (real time, like an year) just riding. Fondos, gravel, fun, friends.

You see pros ending their careers sooner as they are overwhelmed of intervals, travels, midia, etc. While 10/15 years ago things were way “funnier”. All is measured, weighted, analyzed, to much stress. If it’s hard to them, guess whit us mere mortals.

One good friend said once for me that lots of people face sports like a escape, and it’s totally the opposite, it’s a pillar.

Bear in mind that fatigue is cumulative. If you are slightly overtrained already but keep having zero rest days, fatigue will accumulate anyway and you will reach a point of no return despite reducing volume.

I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path when I could be totally wrong but it’s an important distinction to make.

I would say that motivation is on par what it has been the past years. Sure, I don’t like to train och ride my bike so much when I’m bad form or having a bad day and it’s tough when a zone 2 rides feels like sweet-spot at the end.
If I am going with the overtraining syndrome theory I would stay off all kinds of exercises instead of switching cycling for any other endurance sport.

It’s not my full-time job but I do get some backing from my team thats financed with sponsors money.

Anyway, I’m not working right now, I’m on “sick leave” (is that what you call it?), so I’m mostly sitting around. I have decided to move back to the town I grew up in so I’ll be moving next week, until then I’m staying at my moms.

Tomorrow the forecast says perfect summer weather and I really look forward to go out and ride for a few hours, maybe staying around 170 watts instead of my usual 200 watts, monitoring feel and heart rate.

Let’s see tomorrow.

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Yes, you’re right. But I’ve had plenty of rest days. Before my last good/normal week I had a total of 9 recovery days (7 of which totally off the bike) out of 14 and a total time on the bike at 14 hours.

I don’t want to argue or not admit this overtraining thing, but it’s so weird it hits after taking time off.

I’ve been in a similar space. It definitely sucks and a lot of advice already provided has been spot on.

The only thing i can add is some suggested advice to stop adding the numbers as part of how you ride. Ignore them. In fact, take some time to not even record the ride. You need to get to a place in your head where rides are not required to be “productive”.