As cliche of a title as I could come up with, but couldn't ring truer these days. As I enter the last build cycle before the first peak of the season, the routine is really starting to get to me. This isn't burning out that often comes toward the end of the season, or even earlier if I'm not careful, but something much simpler -- same old is getting old.
The particular problem I've been having lately is seasonal - I'm tired of riding in the dark. I don't want to leave my house at 6 in the morning when it's still dark and often cold. Frankly, the cold doesn't really bother me, but the dark is really annoying (I've been doing this dark training since October). It's not the lights I have to put on my bike that I mind, it really is the lack of daylight that's getting to me.
I realized this after sleeping through a couple workouts because I simply lacked any and all motivation to get out of the house in the morning. However, when I'd finally drag myself out of bed and start getting ready for work, the sunshine though my window would wake up an urge in me to get on the bike, but by then there is no time. This resulted in many hours spent at M2, which is and awesome and efficient workout, but I do like to get most of my hours on the bike outdoors, so I needed a solution.
The first step in all of my problem solving is identifying a problem and the ideal solution, then taking the next immediate step toward said solution. Problem: reluctance to ride in the morning and missed workouts. Ideal solution: riding in daylight and getting all of my prescribed weekly hours.
After working through some logistics and figuring out what my next few months will look like as far as training, I've come up with a system that will hopefully work. Step one - I plan on leaving my house no earlier than sunrise. By doing this, I will be forced to cut my workouts short, from my usual two to two and a half hours to an hour and a half. So step two is - do my workouts as close to my house as possible. I know that it takes me 20 minutes to get to the polo fields and to the base of the climb up Twin Peaks or Medical Way (I can actually climb Twin Peaks right out of my front door, but I prefer to take the long way to warm up first). Step three - pick up the missing hours at M2 in the evening two days a week. While I love doing my hill workouts in the evening, I simply don't have the hour it takes me to get to the base of the climb and back. From the top of Twin Peaks, it's a 5 minute drop downhill to my house, so I'm cutting the non-work time from an hour to 25 minutes. Major win!
I happen to know that Mondays at M2 are recovery days, which will work perfectly as a recovery ride post a Monday morning workout. Tuesday will probably be a hard AM and hard PM workouts, and the rest of the work week will consist of a short workout, a recovery ride and medium intensity ride to recover for the weekend of racing. This will obviously be tweaked week-to-week, but that's the general idea.
I feel that being able to really turn inward and figure out exactly what's bothering me and how I can get around it without having to force myself was key to this solution. Forcing yourself to do something when you really don't want to is what willpower is all about, and as athletes, we're supposed to be armed to the teeth with it, right? Well, I understand that perfectly well, and I agree. However, I also know that continuously forcing myself to do something in a sport is the quickest route to mental burnout town. At least for me it is. I need to want to be on the bike; it seems only natural.
I think that I've found a solution that at least on paper seems to solve the problems I'm having with motivation. I know that this solution is only temporary, as it's only a matter of a month and a half or so before sunrise hits the pre-six-am mark, and then I can go back to doing my longer outdoor workouts without being in the dark. I'll be trying this "new way" starting next week, and will come back with an update of how that's been going. I also hope to have some interesting race reports coming up as my race season is about to really get going.