Burnout and Coming Back

What about riding on level mode and RPE, turn off the power numbers, do that for a couple of weeks then look back and see what sort of numbers you were hitting. It’s gotta be better than getting into the downward spiral of reducing intensity in ERG which is really demoralising.


I may have lost my love for cycling, but not for limericks!

I appreciate that. My “Why” was always some race, with Covid I’ll need to find a new “Why”. Not getting dropped by Dame Rebecca is a pretty compelling reason to get moving….



Thanks all for sharing, especially Sir Clayton for starting this. After more than a decade of triathlon and ironman competition where I had mixed results, always lower middle of the pack, I too lost interest, not in the underlying swim/bike/run, but in the time consuming training and the repetitiveness of it all. Frankly, I got tired of running a half marathon every Sunday in -40 C (same as F.) and spending three plus hours on the trainer regardless of how compelling Sir David made it.

So I just “semi-retired” and switched it up. I started trail running (and racing), winter biking, hiking, snowshoeing and gravel grinding all of significantly shorter distances. I also joined a local masters’ bike club/racing team.

As a result, I’m far happier - last race season I podiumed several times in my first ever criterium, time trial and road races. - all my other triathlon/ironman medals were participatory (thanks for showing up and paying the fee :roll_eyes:

I had big plans for this race season…but you know, The Covid. I did do a rim to rim Grand Canyon hike and am planning several bike packing expeditions.

Point is, I may go back to Ironman, once all this social distancing and contagion nonsense clears up. But I will go back it, because I want to, not because I feel compelled to.

Switching things up, getting out of routine and doing what I feel like doing when I wake up has meant the world of difference to me. I also did some lifestyle changes and lost a schwack of weight and feel stronger than I have for decades.

Chin up Sir, if an old fart like me can figure it out, anyone can!


Thank you all for sharing your stories.

All of your amazing experiences of getting back into training on your own terms… That’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Sometimes, when I get up very early in the morning to train in my small pain cave, I forget that I am not alone with feelings of doubt and demotivated thoughts.

I am pretty new to cycling but loved running since I can remember. For the last 12 month I followed a pretty strict regimen of nutrition, exercise and overall life changes in order to become a good role model for my son. I feel much better and I am proud of the change.

But since the middle of june, when my first real vacation in a long while started, I feel like my grip on training is slipping away quite fast.
It started with a few bad food choices to “reward myself”, continued with a few skipped training days and went into full on binge- and laziness-mode by the end of june. …a month passed… Somehow now I am also fighting chronic lower back pain.

My “burnout” is not as long or as drastic as some of you experienced, but I still fear it. And I am trying to actively fight against it.
I always were an all-or-nothing kind of person.

Right now, it’s my first week back on track and I am still struggling. Baby steps.


A hastened reply before my next meeting for work starts :slight_smile:

My lower back pain is worse on rest days. At a minimum, I need to do some Yoga or something on those days.

Never stop coming back! :muscle:


This mirrors my own experience - older dad in my case, 1 year old son, determined to get fit and lean for him as well as to me. The last 8 weeks have been such a struggle, but one day at a time of skipping and not eating properly. Two weeks ago I decided to turn it around, with support from my wife, so I’ve lost 2kg, I’m counting calories to keep me alert to the dangers, plus I am back on the indoor bike. The only problem is that losing 8 weeks of strength and fitness makes it pretty damn hard to return to the same levels as before - def a case of eating humble pie (rather than a big fat delicious pukka pie) and dialing these workouts down.

I wanted to thank everyone who has opened up here. I felt ashamed and forgot how quickly you can turn it all back around and start climbing back up Mt Sufferlandria.


This absolutely resonates with me, I too burned out after training hard and completing challenges like The Fred etc, but coupled with a gruelling work schedule, a horrific divorce, being attacked by my boss in work and then overtraining with medical issues compounding…I now find myself in 2 years of drinking and partying to get a break from the training regime…it’s tough to get back in there and I admit to failing almost daily.
The new wattbike sits gathering dust most days and I feel that with every ride I (almost} complete I discover another injury or reason not to continue.
I’m lucky in that I have my own gym, but rarely use it. The App used to be anough to spur me on, but now I can’t even bring myself to do a 15 minute yoga session…I need to break this cycle but I’m wary of overtraining again whilst being fatigued, thus causing more damage.


You can’t fail. You’re on a mission from God. :smiley:

Perhaps the mindset is a contributor to this. The only people who have to ride their bikes are pro cyclists. For the rest of us, it’s something we do for fun. If it has stopped being fun for you - even temporarily - then it is not a ‘failure’, per se, to make the decision that you don’t want to ride your bike. Punishing yourself for a perceived weakness will only kill your enjoyment further and make you associate the bike with negative thoughts.

It’s tough if you’ve got a vision of where you want to be and don’t feel you’re moving towards it - God knows that I’ve experienced the sort of fatalism that can be experienced in that situation over the past 18 months or so (“I’m way off my ideal weight anyway, so what does it matter if I delete this entire cake?”). What I think I learned from it is that the first step to recovery is accepting where you are now. The sort of life events you’ve described take a long time to recover from. They are the sort of thing that absolutely could kill your desire to suffer on a bike for a long time. Take as long as you need to recover from it, and see the recovery as a positive thing, rather than beating yourself up about not being where you were.


Oh my, I can relate with all of your stories. I’ve been asking myself for a few years, “why am I doing this? What am I training for?”

My answer was to stay healthy. But with all my events canceled, I stopped training for 2 months. Now I’m getting dropped on group rides. For a guy used to riding in the “A” group, that’s humbling. And motivating.

And I guess that’s the thing, Feeling compelled to do something is not the right motivation for me. But I absolutely love the wind in my face, conquering a challenge and pushing myself to my limits. I just have nothing challenging me at the moment.

Right now I’m in the demotivized zone between Couchlandria and Sufferlandria. But I can’t live here, because its not sustainable. So I’m still working through what that looks like. For now, that’s turning my commutes into HIIT workouts and longer weekend rides. But I’ve got to up my game because there’s only two directions to go and I refuse to live in Couchlandria.


I’ve been going through this for about 2-3 years or so. Most say it is just because I am slowing down and getting older, 60 next April 2021. But to me, there is something more to it than that. Huge weight gain, barely 50 miles per week combined, etc. Thankfully, Covid has me riding my Fat on local dirt roads just for fun and nothing else. This has helped with getting weight back off, gaining a bit of fitness back again, and fun being outside like only the Fat can do. There are other physical factors that I don’t really want to get into, but those are slowly being overcome. Basically, what everyone in the local endurance community who knows me told me, when your mind and body is ready to get back at it, you’ll know. And get back at it slowly, like really slowly, like from the beginning with no expectations. Oh… and read the book Thinking Body, Dancing Mind. It really is helping get over the hump.


Appreciate Sir Clayton’s post here. I’m going through my own crisis at the moment but I’m still standing! All started off well at the start of year with a good custom Duathlon plan which was going to get me in great shape for some really exciting events over the season. Then it all went downhill, illness, torn Achilles’ tendon on the second workout of the 12 week plan, then the pandemic struck, father goes into hospital before dying about 6 weeks later, another family member passes also. The knock on effect from the pandemic has made sorting out all the family affairs a long dragged out affair and the tendon has not healed aswell as it should. The world just completely went upside down and all of a sudden my roles were completely changed. I was so jealous during lockdown on the hours exercise we were allowed each day when all the cyclists and runners would pass me as I’m hobbling along the path. Lockdown was an opportunity for a lot of people to get fit and I just couldn’t do it. That was massively frustrating. Motivation was at all time low and the lockdown belly grew and grew. I started to ride again a few weeks ago, but only on a weekend as I just can’t get motivated during the working week. I started with full monty to get some new numbers, then started off with workouts that would last around an hour but as I’ve gone along those workouts have gotten shorter and shorter and now I just struggle to get beyond a 30 minute workout. It just isn’t happening. I’ve hit that wall! I’ve decided to just keep doing those 30 minutes workouts on a weekend or go for walks, there will be no competitions and I just feel I want to get through this year in the hope the next one is better. I have set a target of returning to training in November but until then I’m just going to embrace the time to do other things and hope that I’m ready to roll!


I’m finding that unplugging from devices is very helpful - and if I feel like I’m done, I just stop. If you feel ‘done’ after 30 minutes, then just train for 30 minutes.

Better than zero minutes!


I think that by recognizing your lack of motivation to train, and setting a goal to start again in November, you’re taking the pressure and guilt off of yourself and giving yourself permission to just do whatever you want to do when it comes to exercise. Using this time to take care of other stresses in life is ok (probably even the best time to take time away from training) and might actually help improve your motivation to start again down the road. But continuing to feel guilty about not training will only perpetuate the cycle of guilt and frustration.
You said that your achilles hasn’t healed as well as it should. Can you put some focus on rehab in order to regain proper function in that area? Making progress there might give you small feeling of success and more motivation to get back into a regular exercise routine for starters, and then back into training later down the road.


Just a quick update to my comment.
I have this week been diagnosed with PTSD, which seems a bit drastic but upon further reading I find that it absolutely explains my symptoms. I have 5 months remaining to serve in the Military and hope that I can get some treatment and/or support before I leave.


Lately I’ve been riding, but dialing back the intensity to something like 60%, and riding to RPE. Some days I feel great and smash it, other days I don’t. What I’m finding is that setting the targets really low removes any pressure, but still keeps the workout engaging by providing structure.

I’m not ready to do FF yet, and I honestly don’t want to, but this is keeping me moving while still keeping it fun.


meh… sometimes the donuts are more fun. Don’t be too concerned, motivation will find you eventually. It always does. For me it’s when my belt becomes dangerously short! Regardless, it’s more than ok and probably normal to take several months away and explore and develop other interests.


Hi, many thanks for your words. I’ve actually taken myself away for a little holiday and I’m quite surprised but a few days away has changed my perspective a great deal. I feel a bit more positive about things. I’ve actually not been able to focus on the physiotherapy as my physio had to close down during lockdown. It has only just reopened and I will be going shortly for another assessment. There is only a certain amount that can be done via web. I have still quite a few things to do to get closure. If I get this done it will be a huge weight off me but then I’ve got to find a way of getting back into a routine. My role has changed and whereas I used to be able to come back home and jump on the bike I just can’t now. Other things will have to be sacrificed. I just have to decide what. I have set a goal of starting back in November as traditionally that’s when I would start training for the next season. That gives me a couple of months to just try and have some fun, get things cleared up and try and find that routine. Thanks Suzie😀


Certainly Covid has put a damper on training. So much harder when your goals ( I was going to Cottydale also) evaporate. And I also think we don’t recognize the stress of Covid and this election year are putting on us. One friend calls going on Facebook “Doomscrolling.” Very hard to breath and take stock, it if we didn’t workout our stress would build more. So I forgive myself if some days I don’t hit numbers and some days I set goals of hitting it hard. With winter looming and now maybe having to male a plan for a goal a year away it’s a longer perspective. Putting some $ out for a SUFCoaching just to make a longer term plan. Then pick some rides I can drive to In a day that I always wanted to do. I still find if I can get the pedals turning it’s a good day.


It’s funny how motivation finds you! COVID turned my work life back to shift work and destroyed any training regime I had. After a few months of donuts :doughnut: and coffee :coffee: (lots of both), I started to balloon!

The ballooning and early late shifts steered me back to my old dumb wind trainer because you can always sneak in a session under the house at anytime before or after a shift. That lead me back to SF and a brand new smart trainer. Now I’m almost back to the numbers I had 8 years ago.

If it wasn’t for the shift work I never would have tapped back into a giant seam of motivation!!

Sometimes you just have to accept it’s a cycle and roll with it!! (Pun intended)! There’s a reason for everything!!

:mountain_snow: :biking_man: :mountain:

Ps. The donuts are always fun!!


I have been a regular Mountain Biker over the last 25 years and took up my cycling quite seriously over the last 10 years (I am now 64). I broke my hip 3 years ago and recover completely. It took me 3 months to get back on the bike. I then started to train seriously for a marathon event later that year, and completed the 230 km’s in one go then. Its partially physical and mental. You can do whatever you set you focus and mind on! Just stay motivated!

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