With November approaching the air begins to crisp. Mornings are dark before we change our clocks to fall back. Even here in sunny Southern California, our bright lit skies begin to grey. This early chill is a good indicator to begin tapering down for the year. As important as a solid training regiment, a block of rest and recovery is crucial for long term fitness and health.
Slow time for Go time
An experienced recreational cyclist knows the importance of rest. Generally speaking, here in Southern California, our form follows the seasons. While the race calendar has diminished rather severely in recent years, staying fit enough to cause damage on the group ride is always important. That means taking a little time off during the end of the year.
It can be difficult to step away from the bike for a couple weeks. The idea that all the hard work put in for your current level of fitness will be for nothing if you don’t ride is a powerful one. It is however completely untrue. It’s important to take a break, not only to help your body rebuild, but for the mental side as well.
It’s not all physical
Cycling doesn’t just take a toll on your body, but it is mentally taxing as well. Until you take a break, it is easy to overlook the mentally exhausting side of cycling. It’s a bit like how a fish doesn’t know it’s wet. Cyclists have a tough time realizing that our minds are just as tired as our legs. Especially after a long year of riding constantly.
Plenty of factors contribute to the mental side of cycling. For those who race, the battle being fought on a race course is stressful. Fighting for wheels, jockeying for position, and the constant fear of crashing takes a toll.
For those who enjoy mixing it up in group rides still have to maintain the discipline required to stay on form. These means time spent riding when others are out having fun. Mixing it up with cars is never a dull moment, and I know I have at least one close call every time I leave the house to ride.
The importance of rest is rarely overstated. If you have ever experienced overtraining, you know why. Overtraining is not only unhealthy, but it can lead to full on burnout. When burnout occurs, many people migrate to another hobby. I’ve seen more than a handful of talented riders quit due to burnout. They now fish, kayak, surf, or golf.
I have experienced burnout twice. Fortunately, I don’t ride nearly as much anymore. But if I do get the opportunity again in the future, I will be far better suited to identify the warning signs. The symptoms expressed themselves clearly, I simply ignored them. It boils down to feeling tired all the time. Despite absolutely flying on the bike, the sensations during a ride were simply terrible. I needed a rest.
Riding went from something I looked forward to doing, to something I felt like I had to do. I know why people abandon the sport after having such an episode. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, and how many sprints you win, you just don’t want to get back on the saddle.
November is the perfect time of year to take a little time off of the bike. I generally take a full week off. I slowly begin rolling back into easy rides for the rest of the month. This allows me to begin riding in earnest again beginning in December. I’m able to avoid both burnout and all the weight people tend to gain around the holidays with this system. Stay safe out there, and keep the rubber side down!