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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wanted to share as I’ve followed this forum for my whole racing career.
I’ve been struggling with it all for the last couple of years. I trained super hard for three years and scored top twenty in both National mtb xc and cx, but then I reached the end of my endurance and had to wind it down. Last year I half trained and had a acceptable but not stunning season but this year after the cx season I pulled the plug completely and stopped training. Since January I’ve only ridden about once a week but I soon got bored and after looking around a bit I found the gym. I’ve been loving learning all about weight training and have now settled into a nice routine of five mornings a week, two leg days, two upper body and a Pilates class.
However I still consider myself a bike racer and recently I’ve been doing a longer ride or two, thus clocking around 6-8hrs wk of mixed riding.
Went out tonight for a four hour ride with the power meter and the numbers I was holding for sustained periods were so encouraging. I’ve really not lost much at all and gained so much enthusiasm and joy that I think the net affect of stopping for months has been rather beneficial.
It’s so easy when you are training hard to be terrified of missing even a few days. I hope my experience helps alleviate that fear and encourage a wholesome break if you think you need it.
By the way I feel a lot stronger, pain free and generallly more manly these days thanks to the gym, a good diet and less fatigue. Life in the old (44) dog yet!
 

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Nice write-up! That's very encouraging that your power numbers looked good after your break, particularly at 44. It's easy to get burned out by the training and racing.
 

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I really love the terms "fitness" and "specificity".

Fitness- there's a lot of ways to get it. If it's off season and races are months away, or you're burned out....... then yes, do other things: run, weights, ski, hike, snowshoe, yoga, etc. I'm a big believer of adding weights/yoga to training year round for increased performance.

Specificity - As focus races approaches, then yes, training should be more specific to your key event. There should be Increased percentage of bike riding, and practice races similar to your focus races should occur.

Someone here posted an article stating that a 2 week break should happen during the off season. This leads to the large increase in freshness with a relatively small loss in fitness, to kickoff the next training season.
 

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I actually don't "train" much, I just call it that. I mostly ride for pleasure. Some of that ends up being a good session, but mostly just ride and enjoy it.

I did the coaching thing this year for the first time. Coach was great, I had some setbacks unrelated to the coaching, and I got some minor improvements (I was already at my peak really). But took away a lot of the enjoyment of riding a bike, and I'm too old not to enjoy it.
 

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I'm with you on the fear factor. I also trained hard for about three years and was pretty determined to progress, to the point where I was unsettled if I missed a workout. I enjoyed biking in retrospect mostly (results from racing etc.) but in the moment I was finding it harder and harder to live in the moment and just enjoy a ride. For reasons unrelated to biking, 2019 has made it nearly impossible for me to train the way I used to. I've lost quite a bit of power on the bike, but have set feasible goals for overall fitness which include running and gym work (I'm 42....) and I'm pretty pleased with the big picture. I'm still a little bothered by my power losses, but I'm getting better about letting those go and just riding for the hell of it.
 

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I'm with you on the fear factor. I also trained hard for about three years and was pretty determined to progress, to the point where I was unsettled if I missed a workout. I enjoyed biking in retrospect mostly (results from racing etc.) but in the moment I was finding it harder and harder to live in the moment and just enjoy a ride. For reasons unrelated to biking, 2019 has made it nearly impossible for me to train the way I used to. I've lost quite a bit of power on the bike, but have set feasible goals for overall fitness which include running and gym work (I'm 42....) and I'm pretty pleased with the big picture. I'm still a little bothered by my power losses, but I'm getting better about letting those go and just riding for the hell of it.
Good for you. I'm a decade older, and fear losing whatever current strength and power I continue to muster in my many hours of training per week. It's a balancing act.
 

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Great topic, OP! The story plays out in other domains as well...business, creativity, innovation, personal development. As an author, I've written about the power of a break in books and articles many times. I put it this way: "Break" is the important part of "Breakthrough." And there are two kinds of break...breaks you make, and breaks you take.
 

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Good for you. I'm a decade older, and fear losing whatever current strength and power I continue to muster in my many hours of training per week. It's a balancing act.
Yes; I'm 52 and fearful of losing power and not being able to get it back. I remember being 24 and taking the winter off, and getting fast again in about 4 weeks, those days are long gone. I think 'taking time off' at my age means easier rides with less intensity, but only for a couple of weeks at the most.
 

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Well Jim, I'm living your fear! After two heart attacks (second one on the trail...flatlined, but revived by medic), a greatly reduced ejection fraction, and significant statins (which kill VO2 max, but only in men...go figure), my power and lactate threshold 60% of what it was before all this happened a few years ago.

I won't win any races, but I still enter them...riding the Tahoe Trail 100 next month. Net net is this: I ride for pure enjoyment and social aspect of competition. I turn 60 this year, so what does winning a race get you anyway...some new socks and bragging rights that expire almost as soon as you win them.

My real fear was not being able to ride at all. Then I thought I was gonna need an ebike...lucky for me, no! Days of KOMs are behind me, but I'm still able to keep my crew in sight on the big climbs.

Fear not my friend!
 

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If you're not fighting for the podium, it's just a social ride. A lot of us fail to realize this. Ride your bike and have fun. If your aspirations are more than that then you need to put in a lot of work. That's also when you can experience burnout, over training, chronic fatigue. It's a balancing act.
 

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Thanks for sharing.

While I've not raced on a bike for a few years I _try_ to keep in near racing shape.

Too much time _just_ on the bike and I loose fitness. Got to hit the weights and run if I want to really feel fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
What I hated was I became so worn out and pain averse that I just wanted to soft peddle everywhere and dreaded races because I knew how much I’d make myself suffer.
I’m still feeling my way back into it after an easy year then four months off but am happy in little things like that I’m taking interest in my attire or just nipping out for a ride round the block. When I’m out, I’m finding joy in putting a little effort in here and there or riding aero for a bit.
It’s this joy found in the simplest pleasures of riding that were being knocked out of me through years of seeing riding as training all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some flipping great training rides but also countless hours of tedium too.
So whilst my power is certainly down on previous years, it’s not like I’m suddenly rubbish. After four months off I can still ride for five hours and do 2000m of climbing off road, I can still hold a normalised power of 200w for three hours on the flat and I can still sprint up a hill. No I wouldn’t get on the podium at the moment but I can ride a bike almost as well as ever and find the experience enjoyable and actually rather novel.
 

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If you're not fighting for the podium, it's just a social ride.
I'd argue that the people I know fighting with me for last place aren't doing a "social ride". We are putting in 100%.

My social rides are social rides. But my racing is full commitment. I'm not saying how anyone else should treat their races. But implying that those of us off the podium aren't actually racing is a pretty big insult. I work hard for these poor results.
 

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Just wanted to share as I've followed this forum for my whole racing career.
I've been struggling with it all for the last couple of years. I trained super hard for three years and scored top twenty in both National mtb xc and cx, but then I reached the end of my endurance and had to wind it down. Last year I half trained and had a acceptable but not stunning season but this year after the cx season I pulled the plug completely and stopped training. Since January I've only ridden about once a week but I soon got bored and after looking around a bit I found the gym. I've been loving learning all about weight training and have now settled into a nice routine of five mornings a week, two leg days, two upper body and a Pilates class.
However I still consider myself a bike racer and recently I've been doing a longer ride or two, thus clocking around 6-8hrs wk of mixed riding.
Went out tonight for a four hour ride with the power meter and the numbers I was holding for sustained periods were so encouraging. I've really not lost much at all and gained so much enthusiasm and joy that I think the net affect of stopping for months has been rather beneficial.
It's so easy when you are training hard to be terrified of missing even a few days. I hope my experience helps alleviate that fear and encourage a wholesome break if you think you need it.
By the way I feel a lot stronger, pain free and generallly more manly these days thanks to the gym, a good diet and less fatigue. Life in the old (44) dog yet!
I've close to your age (40) and experienced the exact same thing this past season. I've finished in the upper end of the Local Cat 1/Elite, nipping on the heels of some of the faster local Pros....close enough to encourage me but far enough away that I know I still had a lot of work to do.

I pulled the plug 1/2 way through CX season last year, Octoberish, was just burnt out. Was racing descent, but the packing, bike washing, maintenance, etc was killing me.

Got a couple strength training books and hit the gym, 3x a week in gym in morn and 2x a week yoga. Rode casually / socially on wknds. Did that for 3 solid months and slowly transitioned into more riding, less intense lifting Jan/Feb.

Gained 10 lbs. First few races back were not great, really questioned what I had done. But within the last couple months I've been racing stronger than ever and have been having more fun.

A friend of mine is a Dr. of Natural Medicine, he says it's crucial for guys our age to lift for health reasons.

Their is an old saying, maybe not a saying as much as a rule of thumb, but the guy sitting out with the broken collar bone in Spring is the guy to watch out for come summer....I've seen it time and time again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This break has also allowed me to see the futility in getting hung up about results. Looking back, all my best memories were of one to one or sometimes small group battles. The finish position didn’t matter, it was the the sneaky little moves, blocks, overtakes, finesses that stuck in the memory and were the real joy of racing.
 
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