We’ve all experienced the feeling: it’s cold, rainy and dark outside. Getting out of bed becomes progressively harder even though the days are actually getting longer. Old man winter seems to be dragging his feet on forever and that burnt out mood you experienced at the end of 2020 won’t go away. What can one possibly do to avoid that horrible feeling towards the activity we all know and love so much?
Let’s be honest, 2020 was a long year for many reasons even beyond cycling. I myself leaned on the bike more than ever to avoid the common life stressors and the multitude of additional ones that seemed to keep piling on with each passing month. I rode more and more, accumulated miles of adventures around the country and had one of my biggest years to date in the saddle. From overnighters to races to commuting and everything in between, it’s hard to remember a day I didn’t get out and ride. But now the New Year has arrived and I’m starting to feel burnt out even before getting started on 2021 plans. What in the world can I do to avoid complete and utter destruction of my fitness and fun that kept me rolling throughout the entire year?
1. Take a break.
Although difficult, I find taking a whole week off from activity is the best refresher available. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of the year, start of a new year or the middle of summer. Sometimes I just need to hit the reset button. For me this means virtually no activity, except for walking my dog. I find after only a couple days I’m feeling refreshed, scheming up my next big adventure and viola! Cycling burnout avoided.
2. Pursue another athletic endeavor.
Let’s say you already took your week long break and avoided burning out, but only a few months later find it creeping back into your psyche. Look no further than trying something new. Instead of completely avoiding exercise, pick up a new activity (or old one who haven’t done in a while) that gets your heart pumping and endorphins flowing, albeit in a different way. Trying hitting your local rock gym if you’re craving a social atmosphere or if solo sweating is your thing, dust off those trusty running shoes (gasp!) and jog for 30 minutes a couple times a week. Before long, you’ll realize how much you miss strapping on your helmet and you’ll be back in the saddle in no time.
3. Pick up a book.
Preferably one about riding bikes or a specific topic that interests you. Sometimes we get stuck riding the same routes or planning the same adventures. Find a cycling related book that you’ve always wanted to read or heard amazing things about, fire up the tea kettle and start turning and devouring those pages. Undoubtedly, your creative juices will start flowing and that feeling of angst you began to develop towards your trusty steed will fly right out the window. Inspiration from other people’s stories is undeniably one of the greatest ways to dig yourself out of a slump.
It’s no fun feeling burnt out, no matter your life pursuit, but burnt out on your passion? Now that is a horrible thing. The most important aspect is recognizing the signs, which are different for each of us, and throwing yourself a curveball. Temporarily altering your perspective can deliver your body and mind exactly what’s needed to get back out on the roads and trails, exuberant and ready to pedal stress free for months on end.