Dec 21, 2010

Pushing the reset button

I woke up this morning with a thought in my head, “I don’t want to ride my bike.” Before you all gasp in shock, let me assuage your fears – this isn’t anything permanent. Allow me to explain. There are nine days left in this year, of which I will spend six traveling and skiing. I’ve reached my mileage goal for this year and currently stand at just over 6,100 miles. Whatever time I put in on the bike this week will be interrupted by over a week of snow play, first in Vail, then in Tahoe. So I’m ready to push the reset button.

I’m ready to powercycle my brain and to formally separate this year from the next. This break in riding, however brief, will allow my body to rest from the miles of perfect circles. It will likewise allow my mind to relax and not worry about training, or riding, or waking up early in the morning, or getting my miles in this week. As the body and mind rest, motivation builds. Not to mention that these will be only the third and fourth week completely off the bike all year.

With each day that I’m off the bike, I want to get back on the bike even more, my motivation builds, my excitement soars. I can almost taste the next year of racing. I can’t wait to edge in stone write about my long term goals and select races I will be focused on, but I must contain myself. Right now, all I am focusing on is the feet of powder I will hopefully get to enjoy in only a few brief days. But oh boy, in just a few days, you’ll read all about it (I hope you're as excited to read it as I am to write it): about my training, my new equipment that’s on the way, my wonderful training log. Oh my, yes, you really should see this log (I’ll post pictures), all colorful with each day of the week assigned to some sort of activity until the end of October. “Rest” is an activity, right? Neurotic? Yep, I sure am. 

So now that I’ve spent three paragraphs convincing myself you that it’s okay for me not to ride my bike for two weeks, why do I feel this guilt, as if I’m abandoning a helpless child, alone in the woods? When I used to practice martial arts, my instructors would comment that guilt for missing class is a good thing – it serves as a motivator to attend the next one. But I think it’s more than just guilt. It’s fear. Fear that all the gains I have made will somehow go away, or that I’ll get incredibly overweight in the two weeks I’ll be off the bike. It seems that this irrational fear plagues most serious athletes and is one of the biggest reasons for overtraining.

To some extent, it’s understandable. We’ve all had friends who for one reason or another missed a few weeks on the bike and then suffered that first ride back. Hell, I’ve been there myself, surviving long winters in Chicago.  Well, we don’t want to be THAT guy. We want to be the guy who’s always on, who always feels good and who gets stronger with every ride. Unfortunately, they haven’t invented a legal supplement for that yet. So I have to keep telling myself that I’m crazy for having all these irrational fears. It makes very little sense that I would lose years’ worth of fitness in two weeks, and it makes even less sense to fear getting fat from skiing 6-7 hours a day for 9 days. That alone will hopefully keep my quads at their current volume. 

So as I’m anxiously winding down this year, I’m super excited for the next and can’t wait to share those experiences here. Stay tuned!

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