Hurry, while it’s still fresh….
In recapping my race weekend, I am taken back to this same time (same exact weekend) last year. After finishing Saturday’s road race last year began my decline in all self-esteem and self worth. My inner voice that loves to point out all the flaws was on an all time high and had me convinced that bike racing may not be what I am cut out for. Steering away from the trashy details, I was in what those who suffer from depression call, “The hole” for months at a time. Resorting to harmful habits in an attempt to regress to a previous state of comfort, familiarity, and confidence. At the time no one could convince me that what I was doing was right (believe me, people tried.) For a while I was living with the emotional highs and lows. Eventually the lows bottomed out at manifested itself as a complete lack of emotion and empathy altogether. Having gotten dropped from the race after what I thought was training for this type of event. I was still in that confused state of experimenting with different race and training tactics and still coming up short with results and performance.
Every competitive athlete knows you can only turn yourself inside out so many times without receiving tangible gains. This in combination with whatever psychological state I was in at the time (the neurotic that took pride in his flaws) was discouraging to say the least. It never got to the point of drastic, self-destructive attempts. Isolation and complete absence of inner drive to leave the bed was the worst that things got. I tried to abstain from things I normally enjoy like coffee to again, regress to a state where I believed I had more control.
When you’ve put so much time, energy, and finances into one thing and am unable to have anything to show for it, you begin to question. First your own physical abilities, then your decision making, then all of the actions you set out to achieve. All of these thought can turn someone cold in a short amount of time (I was contemplating a “Cold heart, old soul” tattoo somewhere on my body.) Things weren’t looking good for me last year, and it took a long time for corrective actions to begin to take place. I’ve been told that I have thinner skin than most and at the time I didn’t see that as a bad thing (I still don’t to this day. Expressing emotions can be very therapeutic no matter what triggers them.)
A year has gone by and while I fell off the wagon during yesterdays race at an identical spot, I was not emotionally traumatized as the previous year. Part of it had to do with the time at which I chose to upgrade categories. Two of the most difficult road races were lined up and I got crushed for both of them. I’m now taking a different psychological approach and have received consensual advice from friends and teammates alike. Due to recent changes I’ve shifted to a more mindful way of life and seek more opportunities to open myself up to my environment.
After having done a road race and a criterium this weekend, it has been made clear that due to my training, I am better suited for criteriums and circuit races this year. I’ve got many more matches to burn when things are short, punchy, and more-or-less flatter than a “climbers race.” Last year I made the mistake of attempting to alter my fitness from one end of the spectrum to the other in the middle of racing season. Knowing what I know now, I should have stayed the course and focused on what worked in my favor. Perhaps when the season is over and the time comes to start things back up at a lower intensity, I’ll try and keep a more well rounded training approach.
I would like to put it out there that I am not choosing to focus on one specific race type for the rest of my time spent on the bike. I know the more often I ride with others who’s training has them better suited for longer, sustained intensity efforts with a lot more elevation gain, I will eventually adapt and regain that fitness I once had. I am not giving up on the road race setting. You won’t see me trying to bulk up and turn into a linebacker by the end of the year. I’m simply playing to my strong suit at the moment.
Still having fun on the bike. Still able to feel emotions and get myself out of bed. Still like the shape I’m in (sorta. Takes more convincing nowadays but comes from a deeper rooted issue.) Not feeling as socially awkward as I did last year. That being said, right now I’m glad I have a desk job and can kick my feet up and begin to recover from a caffeine fueled, and productive weekend.