Training through grief

Advice/counsel needed.

I am struggling (mentally/emotionally/physically) to train for the 2024 CX race season. I think I’m struggling because of grief. It’s hard for me to share the details because of how painful it is but a month ago my wife and I lost our 10 yr old son.

In years past, training has been the way I processed my emotions. But now, I can’t hardly get my leg over the bike… when I do I can only bring myself to do endurance or sweet spot. I just don’t seem to have it in me. Sadly, the bike doesn’t seem to be helping me process my loss.

Does anyone have advice for training through grief and loss?

I’d like to race this fall because the CX community is absolutely the best and I dont won’t to miss out on connecting with them.

Thanks in advance for your counsel and kind words.


I’m sorry man, I can only imagine. I’ve got an 8 year old and I dont really want to contemplate this too deeply…

Training and CX I can comment on. Training…dude don’t sweat the future…do whatever the hell you think is going to cheer you up. If you think 2 hrs of thrashing yourself at threshold will do it…do that. A three block noodle to the ice cream stand to stuff your face sounds good…do that.

CX season - get into as good a shape as you’re willing/wanting to do. Heck apply for a downgrade if you want and just give a 1 sentence explanation why if you’re going into race season with a 150 watt ftp. Who cares…just show up, party at the back of the race, drink a couple beers. Forget about things for a day.


This is insanely hard to read. I am sorry.

Without being able to understand I say threshold for as many hours as you can possibly handle. Not for CX season, instead for the clarity and tears it often induces when I need any little glimmer of hope.

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I am so sorry; I cannot imagine your grief.

This will sound obvious to the point of absurdity, but this is likely not the time to get performance gains on the bike. It is a time to remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you’re not done; that you’re still capable; that you will still build a little bit each day. The bike may be helpful in that process, and workouts can be a way to focus on the moment, and your efforts. Finding outlets that are supportive of your health, as opposed to the many that do the opposite, is undoubtedly beneficial. But give yourself the flexibility to find what works for you, for now, as you work through these uncharted waters.


I am so sorry for your loss…no words can help, I’m sure, but you have my deepest sympathies.

I would not worry about training or racing. You need to work your way through your grief and be available to support your wife. Ride if and when you feel like it…but if you are struggling to get on the bike, you need to listen to what your body and emotions are telling you.

the bike will always be there…now is the time for you to be there for your family (and vice versa).

Peace to you and your wife.


I can’t even imagine, so sorry for you loss.

If you want to race cross so you can hang out with the community at the event then just do it. I think just being a part of it is more important than being perfectly prepared for it. I fortunately haven’t had to deal with training and grief but I do know that even just riding unstructured helps with stress and clearing my head. I don’t know, just take it easy on yourself, you’re dealing with enough.

I dont even know what to say to this.

As a parent, I have no idea what I would do in you place. This is a dark place. I dont think I have the mental strength to deal with something like this.

I have no advice, only pains me to read you and your family are going through this.

So sorry…

Really sorry about your loss. I can’t even imagine getting on the bike through that type of pain.

Honestly, I would try to ride with others, get out there with the community, try to make it more about being around good people than training.

Don’t force it, just do what makes you feel the best for the moment - bike or not.

Hope you both get through this, there is always a light in the end of the tunnel, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment!

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So sorry for your tragic loss.

When I went through a loss a couple of years ago, I felt like it helped to keep moving but I didn’t have it in me to push myself hard. I was already dealing with a lot of grief. I actually stopped training for a time and just went on walks. I directed a lot of time in group counseling and other things to help me absorb what happened.

Everyone is different and people have different ways to evolve around the grief. Just be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to allow your body time and space to process. There is no failure in that.

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Like others have said, I can’t imagine the pain you must be facing, While pain like that never goes away, it dulls, but after only a month it is really soon. The fact that you look forward to the CX season and racing with others is a good thing. If you feel like you must train, focus on what you are looking forward to and not so much on how hard you are going, etc. And if you can’t really train much between now and then, it is totally fine. You can race your way into fitness. Just do whatever feels right in the moment and don’t stress about what you should be doing.

Be kind to yourself!

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I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your child, as a fellow father I cannot imagine how you feel.

Whenever I need help coping with emotional troubles I turn to running. I guess its kind of self-destructive but there is something about the physicality of running, which is absent from cycling, that really helps me process my emotions. While cycling is great exercise and I enjoy it much more than running it does not have the same effect.

I hope you find solace in exercise and that you and your wife manage to grow the outer circle of the life/grief chart to help lessen the pain. We will be thinking of you.

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I’m so sorry and can’t imagine what you are going through. My advice other than maybe talking to a professional is don’t worry about getting in shape. Do some easy outside rides. Feel the wind and sun on your face. Cruise around, wave at neighbors, grab a coffee. Then eventually you might wanna pick up the pace and start adding some intensity but if that happens tomorrow or next year, it’s a process…

Thinking about this a bit more…I dont think I’d necessarily tell anyone to not worry about getting in shape. Because I know for me…and I assume others…the whole process of cycling, adhering to a plan, focusing on improvement is a way to focus my mind on the things I can control, and forget about the things I cant.

Which is to say…perhaps ignore the long term pressure to be in shape…but if/when you feel like diving back into training, it might be a good outlet for you.

This is a long winded way of saying…maybe take some time to think about what makes you happy/fulfilled, and just do that. As is already obvious…this is something everyone is going to have a different answer for. You need to find your own answer to the question I think.

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As a father of (2) boys under the age of 4, I am in tears thinking about what you are going through and how to cope with something like this.

I would say do whatever makes you feel good, go and do your endurance, thrash if you want, hit some MTB trails. Eat gummy warms while riding to an ice-cream shop, do anything that keeps you moving in a positive way mentally and physically.

The beautiful thing about CX is you just need to show up, no-one really cares how you do as long as you are having a good time. If you know your fitness is poor and you dont want poor reflected results, email USAC or the promoters and try to drop down to Cat5 and do some beer lapping social loving.

Just stay in a positive environment and do things that will allow you to heal and move forward.

I wish the upmost best to you and your family.


Sorry for your loss. I wouldn’t worry about training. Cycling is a great sport as others provide so much support, but the support I always feel is based on group rides. Without the rides its hard to get the support from caring people. I would try to go on group rides with supportive people you know.

While not the same type of situation, I have some experience with this.

My wife (and another close family member) were both diagnosed with aggressive cancer at the same time in October of 2020, and I spent the next year and half-ish flying back and forth across the country to help them with treatment. I was not allowed into the treatment area since it was Covid times, so it was doubly more difficult than normal for both them and myself. All I did was caretake, try to keep my job so I could keep my health insurance (which saved me from having to spend $400k out of pocket for treatment), and the rest of the time, I rode my bike.

I trained throughout most of it as a way of dealing with the pain and grief of not knowing what would happen, seeing the toll it took on my family. I had been at all time highest fitness, and was gearing up towards a really big season of racing in 2022 after all of the treatments were done. Even got my first win in the early part of the season. But the fire just evaporated one day as I was riding by myself in the mountains during a pre-ride; riding felt like yet another burden to carry rather than a joy.

I’m now on the other side and whenever I get on the bike, even for a short time, I’m transported back to that period of time where I was so isolated, spending hours on the bike as my only outlet while being a caretaker.

My honest recommendation for you is to try doing something different instead of riding, or to try a different bike. Give yourself some space from it and wait for the desire to come back. I’ve taken up sim racing and a few other casual pursuits. They aren’t great, but they don’t remind me of what happened. I’m also trying to buy a trail bike (or an e-bike even honestly) rather than an XC bike, which would let me just ride rather than be reminded of all the fitness that I lost and the things that happened during that time.

I keep hoping that one day I’ll wake up and want to train. But for now, the only thing I can do is give myself the space to try and recover from what happened.

I wish I had better advice, but you aren’t alone in the feeling. DM me if you want to talk privately.


This past year has been particularly stressful for me, albeit largely self inflicted. Can’t imagine what you’re going through.

I’ve been clinging on to my fitness by doing sprint workouts - Detling -3, Charing -3 - 2-3X a week. I just don’t have the time or the focus to suffer for more than a handful of minutes per workout.

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I am so very sorry for your devastating loss. I wish I had some advice, but all I can offer is my sincere condolences. You and your wife are in my thoughts. I hope that whatever you choose to do during this difficult time brings you some comfort. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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Losing one of my children would be my worst nightmare. I’m really sorry that this happened to you. Even trying to imagine what it would feel like gives me goosebumps.

I lost my mom to a very aggressive form of cancer in 2021 and a cousin to brain cancer the year before. I couldn’t go to either funeral because of travel restrictions and my wife’s pregnancy. Those were dark days for me. Not to mention the fallout in my family (complicated topic).

I’m really of two minds here: when people get depressed, they tend to withdraw from other people, stop exercising, etc. All things that have been shown to help with depression. On the other hand, you should not be forcing yourself to do things that you can’t/don’t want to do. Finding the balance is hard.

The first thing I’d do is find a therapist who is an expert in grief counseling. Whether this is just for you or a couple’s therapist, depends a little on your needs and the needs of your partner. Maybe all of the above? For various reasons, I couldn’t start therapy, but I will after moving in a few months. I really need it. My whole world changed after my mom’s death, also because of how integral my mom was in my family construct.

The second thing I’d prioritize is your relationship to your partner and, if you have any, to your other children. So you might want to consider stopping racing just to spend more time with your wife. Next come your relationships to close friends and family. Try to keep your social network, social safety net, as large as possible. It is quite likely that they will feel awkward talking to you about this, most probably don’t know how to deal with this topic either. Try to establish a support network that can hold you if you slip into darkness. If you have suicidal thoughts, tell others. (My sister has been dealing with depression for two decades and it is well managed. But sometimes she should have bad phases and then tell me that she thought of killing herself again.) From my own experience dealing with people with depression, this might go against your instincts, you might want to be alone. But this is not the best way to deal with the situation. I know, easier said than done. Also keep in mind, and I think you get that I say that with love and respect, neither you nor your wife will be at your best. When people are hurt, their tempers get shorter, you or your partner may lash out for stupid things simply because you are having trouble dealing with the pain and hurt.

One mental model that helps me is to think of things like family, friends, work, hobbies as separate pillars I rest on. Legs on a stool. Columns that support a roof. If one is weak, the others can take some of the load. So if one is weak and needs healing, try to keep the others intact.

Lastly, your training. I’d probably start by asking myself: why did training help me deal with life stress in the past? Was it the structure? Was it an outlet for my aggression/frustration/anger? Do you like the feeling of being at your limit? Etc. In my case the structure helped me. It was something I could control, I had a set amount of me time away from everyone else. But it could be that you really enjoy outdoor rides. Depending on your answer, I’d prioritize the latter. I’d try to get in at least some physical activity. But if following a training plan is too much for you, just switch to TrainNow or just ride outdoors. Stop racing if your heart is not in it.

Again, I am really sorry about your loss. Words are inadequate. No parent should outlive their child. It will get better, trust me, but it will take time. Also, my DMs are open, feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to.


My wife and I lost our first daughter many years ago. You and your wife should seek the help of a professional. Whether you go together or separate is your path to find. Speaking/listening/participating in groups of other parents who have lost kids helped the healing. It never fully goes away nor should it. Finally, when it’s time, help others through their grief.