Burnout

120km, a 4 hour slog with over 1000m climbing and returning into a headwind. That was intense as it’s gotten. There was no hiding place. Each turn off the front felt like an hour, each recovery at the back felt like 10 seconds. The tiredness after this was unreal, barely able to stand in the shower and so tired I couldn’t bare the thoughts of even driving to my folks house. My wife normally unsympathetic to my efforts was actually concerned for my well-being afterwards. On more than one occasion during my struggle a voice in my ear told me to think of this day in the summer “It’ll stand to ye” and I carried this with me throughout the rest of the day.

muck
As happy as a pig covered in sh*t

On the back of this I should have seen it coming. That’s when the rest was required but as per schedule I was back at it two days later on the turbo and two days after that and two days after that. And then Smack! That was it, I was on my knees completely shattered. There was little warning and all of a sudden yer gone. I should have seen it coming down the line but perhaps through a fog of tiredness and an insistence that I had to keep going and getting the training rides logged I completely dismissed all warning signs. I burnt out in a big way. 

Looking back on my training logs over the past 5 weeks, I’ve been active in one form or another every two days with one or two back to back. That doesn’t seem overly intense but the time adds up I suppose. I’ve been trying to focus on proper recovery. Watching my TSB. I’m back taking the shakes, ensuring nutrition is as good as to be expected from a man with a lifetime of salt & vinegar crisp dependency and getting to bed as early as possible. I thought this was balancing quite well. I didn’t realise that the scales were slowly tipping in the wrong direction.

In the last week two of my tougher sessions involved short bursts at maximum intensity repeated multiple times. The last of which pretty much left me on my hands and knees. This was to be the nail in the coffin for a training block that has been running since Christmas and it was a sharp reminder to take a break every so often.……..”It’ll stand to ye!”.

I’ve seen this before and can pinpoint two or three occasions in the last year whereby I’ve unceremoniously crashed with similar dramatic effect. The issue isn’t just the physical meltdown but the psychological fatigue also. It’s not that I turn into a vegetative state but the increased tiredness brings with it a more agitated self. It’s nearly a self-loathing situation ye get into. You’re wrecked but you have to train, you must keep going. Just do another session and that’ll clear your head. Don’t start skipping sessions now, there’s only 5 weeks left to the season. You must not quit, you cannot quit. Sure yer not even doing enough, if anything you should be upping your load. Two big spins Saturday and Sunday….”C’mon, It’ll stand to you”.

What’s worst of all is that the agitation spills over into the real world. Small jobs around the place become mammoth tasks, accompanied with a dread of even being asked to do something as straightforward as bringing the bins out. This dread is as clear as day to my normally patient wife who can read me like a book. My agitation then becomes her agitation at my complete uselessness.

The scientific approach will spout the theories of super compensation in training cycles and you can google that if you like. I know from well enough experience that the more pissed off my wife gets the more I need a break. If I keep ploughing on I’ll be selling my bike either through my own lack of enthusiasm or my wife will have sold it for me. I want to keep riding my bike, I want to remain married. This break will stand to me!

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