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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm pretty new to competitive cycling. I've only done a few fun races but I've been mountain biking for about three years. I joined a competitive club last year but didn't compete much with them, just trained for a strong season this year. I went onto a pretty strict workout regime for the winter--> 3x per week weights, 2x per week intervals on rollers( 1 endurance, 1 leg speed), 3x per workouts on trainer(2* short intervals, 1 2x20' intervals). I had planned to do a lot of road races this season so that training was also geared to that and mountain bike races. I've been doing that for 3-4 months (weight routines and intervals have changed throughout by coach) and my fitness has sky rocketed. Two weeks ago I got really sick and it has been the first extended time off my bike. I've completely lost my motivation to race or train to race. I've realized that now I see riding as a chore, like something I have to do, to get certain distances in or ride at a certain % HR for so long. Not to mention the fact that I'm questioning my coach's decisions and coaching style. I know that eventually I want to race but I don't want to go back to having my workouts take up all my free time as something I don't really want to do. I'm going to university next year so I couldn't even get anywhere with my racing if I wanted. Has this every happened to any of you? completely lost your motivation? Will the cycling community see me as a failure? My club and coach will not be supportive, they're extremely competitive.
 

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many times structured training will burn people out. Especially if youre relatively new to riding and/or racing.

I have a similar experience. Big racing plans>powermeter>coach>structure, etc.

It lasted about 2 yrs and then stopped being fun. LIke you said, it seemed like a chore, and the workouts seemed like something I had to do , not something I wanted to do.

I still race mtb, and 'cross…I ride as much as I can (4-5 days a week). But my "workouts" are hard rides I want to do, and rides that are going to be fun!

If you dont have grand ambitions of being a pro, or making money racing, or even have overly lofty goals, theres no reason to be doing rides you dont want to do.

Right now just ride for fun, this usually brings you back around mentally. As far as what your club/friends/coach will think? Who cares. If youre not having fun its pretty pointless.
 

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I had coaches for 3 separate years (not consecutive). Those were definitely good years. I think it's good to have a reputable coach just to learn from it.

Now I self coach. As long as I get my 7-15 hours a week on the bike, with every 3rd week being a lower volume week, I seem to ride pretty good. I find when I ride that much, the structure don't matter much. Then i can concentrate on making the rides fun (long MTBs, scenic road rides, bike commuting, some group rides, etc.)

I started riding mid-February this year and have only done 1 trainer session so far:thumbsup:. I do 1-2 road group rides a week to work on top end speed though, even during base time.

I'm a little slow right now compared to the guys who suffered on trainer all winter (doing sufferfest videos), but at the end I think we just all have different peaks. By the time I get fast, they'll be in that phase where they have nowhere to go and trying to figure out why "more-hard-riding" is not getting them faster.

I've done a couple of two peak seasons with coaching help, and it seems like that second peak is never as good as the first. I hit that first good peak after 6 months and by 9-10 months I'm toast anyway. So why kill yourself all winter on the trainer?

That's another draw back of paid coaching. 5-6 months to a good peak and 9-10 months I'm toast, but they want to get paid all year round.:)

So to answer your question, how do I stay motivated? By following my own plan that has me do things that keep me happy. Changing things up is definitely good thing.
 

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Doing hard rides five days per week on the turbo trainer is mentally taxing. That sort of routine is difficult to stay motivated with long term.

Have you been able to start riding outdoors yet? I'd have thought that getting out and riding some trails could see you starting to get some enthusiasm back.

It's a small thing but psychologically I never think of or call my cycling "training" (as in something you have to do), even if it's an indoor interval session or tough ride doing hill repeats. I always think of it as just going out for a ride.:)

The other thing that I do is to have some flexibility. Riding outdoors I do different routes each day and so long as I achieve my basic aims (eg: 15 to 20 hours per week including two or three interval sessions and a group ride for some speed work) I don't try and micromanage any more than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have started riding outside and that's what reminded me why I started in the first place and how I realized that it just wasn't fun anymore, the highly structured training part... I can still spend hours on my mountain bike. I think my issue might lie more with my club and coach. My training partner ditched me as soon as it no longer suited them to train with me. I am much stronger than them so they were always trying to catch up to me in training, and they try to make me look bad when they can :(. I hate jealousy. I try not to let immaturity get to me(I'm training in a junior/U23 program), but it's not enjoyable to train with people like that. I like coaches that make me push my limits, but I'm getting fed up. When 100% of the things coming out of my coach has to do with "you can/should do better", it gets annoying. Everything is for racing, every training session, a restricted diet, every weekend in race season is supposed to be written off for racing. A quote word for word from my coach "we don't do anything for fun, just racing". I think I'm a different breed from these people, or am I just being irrational? Are all clubs like this? (I've never been in one before). It would be hard to leave this club because I would be looked down upon for joining another club, especially because my club is big and I would see them on the trails and at all the races. I also have a lot of gear I got at discounts from sponsors of the club so it would piss them off if I just left.
 

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Are all clubs like this?
Not ours. We have Nine U23/Junior riders and they pretty much just do what they want. We just guide them a bit. If they ask for specific advice, then we give it to them. Once they stop improving then it's time to do something different.

As far as leaving the club, since you got discounted or free stuff, you should try to make it to end of season if possible. But whatever you do, make sure you talk to team manager and let him know how you feel. Definitely talk to him before you move to other team.

On our team, the junior sponsors specifically wanted no pressure on the young riders. They should go do some racing, but that's about it. So what you are going through couldn't happen on our team.
 

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The one thing I've always like about bikes is that I do it because I want to...not because someone is making me. I've been riding various types of bikes for a long long time, but only got into racing about 4 years ago. First two years were just for fun and I saw some success. So last year I did a similar routine (multiple interval sessions on the trainer mixed with weight training each week). I knew it was good for me, but just like you, it was riding because I felt I had to...not because I wanted to. This year I've been a lot less structured. I still go to the gym a couple times a week and mix in some good hard rides when I can during the week and on the weekends. I still feel strong. I have no idea where I'd be if I stayed with the rigorous program, but I can say that especially this early in the season I'm much less burnt out than last year. I'm never going to make a living out of riding, so I want to keep it as something I enjoy.
 

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A quote word for word from my coach "we don't do anything for fun, just racing". I think I'm a different breed from these people, or am I just being irrational? Are all clubs like this? (I've never been in one before).
That quote reminds me of the coach from the original karate kid film "mercy is for the weak" :lol:

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/the-karate-kid-1984/mercy-is-for-the-weak

Different clubs, teams and coaches aren't all the same. They all have their own approaches and culture, some more intense and abrasive than others.

Probably the main point to make is that if you've been given an overly difficult training plan, one that within three months has pushed you to the point of falling ill, and burnt out enough to consider quitting, then it's not actually been that great or successful a training plan.

When it comes to training and racing a good saying is "there's more than one way to skin a cat". :)

Something to consider is whether you could potentially stay and race for the team but do your own training regime independent of this coach. Let your legs and race results do the talking.
 

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Lots of good comments above, but I'll add something else that MAY be relevant to your current loss of motivation. It might be something other than 'burnout' and/or a club with bad vibes.

It can be inherently demoralizing when illness or life events interrupt or shorten an otherwise-successful block of hard training. Without the stimulus of hard training, to which you've grown accustomed, the body shuts down. Mood can also go to hell since you're not getting the endorphins etc produced by training. Plus, the fitness gains made by the training seem to be ebbing away, which for many people adds to the discouragement.

For me, an illness of 10 days or longer during a preseason base or build will definitely do the above. It's hard to get out of it. I normally actually like indoor training (though not as much as good outdoor singletrack) but in one of these funks I can't get motivated to do it. I've learned from experience not to make any significant decisions during these down-times, though. I'm just so grumpy and negative it colours my judgement.

Eventually, with a little patience and variety of riding, the pleasure of training returns and so does self-motivation.
 

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About three years ago, I was going into a pretty good base season and then life events threw it off. I let it get in my head, and it pretty much fried that whole winter's base training.

Two years ago, I decided to be less structured. I figured out a training week that seemed to work alright, let light weeks happen if they happened, and started track racing. I ended up having a lot of fun and also achieved one of my other goals, which was to be able to run as a regular part of my fitness practice. I think just trying to follow a regular training week, maybe tweaking as necessary, is a great approach for someone who's newer to structured training.

Last year, finishing my Master's, getting married, moving, and starting a new job kinda nuked my training. My life is terrible. ;) I actually got some good finishes later in the season when I wrote off track cycling for the season and just rode my mountain bike a bunch and had fun with that.

Now, I'm trying again with the structured thing this year. I think there's something to it and I think I'm more ready. But I anticipate that I'll have some weeks, maybe even a whole block, that get thrown off. I've given myself permission to shrug and move on if it's a week here or there. If it's a whole block, I figure I'll re-jigger my plan.

So here's my suggestion to you. Shrug. Forgive yourself the last couple weeks' messiness. Assign yourself a transition week this week and just go ride your mountain bike and have fun. Don't do the indoor stuff or anything you don't enjoy for its own sake.

Since this is your first year doing the structured thing, try just laying out a consistent week that fits the rest of your life and includes a MTB ride or two that you don't do in any particular way. Do a rest week from time to time and an easy week when you're going to be racing. I bet you can work out a routine that sits better for you and you still get a lot stronger.

If and when you do a second season that has a similar slate of races to the last, you can look at doing something more structured. But the next couple years of your life are going to be all about upheaval and change, so I think just being consistent is enough.
 

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Nano I noticed that you didn't mention any goals that you are looking to accomplish other than wanting to race. It will be very hard to find the motivation to train if you don't have attainable goals. I'd recommend trying to setl small reachable goals that you can accomplish on a regular basis so that you have some reward for the time you spend training.
 

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Lots of good input above.

jlmuncie mentions setting goals. You gotta do this to create a "direction".

Nearly all cyclists, at least those who push themselves weekly, will experience some level of occasional burnout. If you truly love bikes and cycling, then your desire for riding/racing will naturally come right back.

Surrounding yourself with positive people who love to ride/race for the right reasons is also a very beneficial way to stay amped on riding imo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you everyone for all your insights. I've honestly just completely burnt out. I'm going to take a bit of a break(partly because I over trained and I'm feeling that now) no matter what my coach says. Then I'll start back up with unstructured rides and go from there and aim for some races later in the season, maybe stay off the weights for a bit too. To be honest I don't know how I lasted this long with 20+ hours of training per week + school :/
 

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Thank you everyone for all your insights. I've honestly just completely burnt out. I'm going to take a bit of a break
...

To be honest I don't know how I lasted this long with 20+ hours of training per week + school :/
Sounds like a good plan. Chill out for a bit, and recover the fun. Good luck to you!
20h/week is/was too much in a first year of structured training, IMHO.
 

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I would highly suggest talking with a close friend or mentor about this. Often times they have insight into your personality, life circumstances, etc that can really help shed some light on areas we can't even imagine.

Good luck!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Cripes! It sounds like a fun hobby was turned into a job here :(

20 hours a week is A LOT. Factor in bike maintenance, laundry etc. and it's a wonder you have time for anything else. As others said well, you sound like you are going into this very serious - what do you want out of it?

3 years of MTB in the legs isn't actually that much I from what I've read, (unless you already have a good base from something else)....If you enjoy the racing I suspect you could still be plenty competitive with more of a fun "training" schedule (and perhaps a more sympathetic coach) - ride a lot, race your mates, chase some strava KOMs for intervals etc. I don't think you need to get all specific with killer indoor workouts unless you really HAVE to be in the top 1%. Personally, I really like the supportive attitude of coaches like Ponch, LMN and many others offering encouragement and advice on here. From your description, I'm afraid your coach sounds more like a barking army seargent major than a supportive advisor. I'm reading Max Hutchinson's book "Faster" at the moment and he said that perhaps the most important function of a coach is to tell you it's ok to REST.

Personally I find indoor exercise just destroys my motivation after a while but some people thrive on it, so depends on the kind of person you are, I think. If you prefer outdoors why not XC ski, run or similar in the winter? Ned Overend's book on MTB has good year-round training advice ("Mountain Bike like a champion"). He doesn't bike in the winter, just XC ski and snowshoe and he's done alright ;)

You asked how the cycling community would see you, well, I think the cycling community will see you as a success if you make the most of the trails and have a well earned beer with your mates afterwards! Podiums are a cherry on top but you need to enjoy your life first and foremost :) Good luck!
 

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My club and coach will not be supportive, they're extremely competitive.
IMO to h*ll with them if they feel that way. Life is way too short for all that jazz. Do what you like and like what you do...if that involves racing then great. If it doesn't, then that is fine too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Since I'm pretty new to structured training, I really only know it from what my coach has me do and what the others in my club are expected to do. Would any of you be able to give me insight as to what a training plan should look like for someone just getting into racing like me? Is weight training 3x per week really necessary? I feel like I would get more out of riding as I can always use work on my technical skill. Training weights 3x per week doesn't leave me with many hours to ride my bike...
Also is it normal for someone just starting to be expected to race practically every weekend? I honestly don't think I could do that even if I really wanted to compete that much, especially since I'm expected to race road too and I have zero motivation to do so. All I want to do is become a better mountain biker and do some races when I feel like it...
 
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