So this is what burnout feels like? Strange. Whatever you do, don’t take your day off too seriously. Learn to kick back, relax and go nowhere near bananas.
It finally happened. I got up on a Sunday – a sunny one at that – and didn’t feel like cycling; a strange sensation. Despite having cycled only 60 miles at a fairly leisurely pace the day before, it seemed that the 1,050 miles of August had finally caught up with me. Fighting a weird concoction of guilt, relief and the unknown I put myself not on a saddle but in the shower and went about my day.
Usually, a weekend rest day would involve at least 30-40 miles at a steady pace, followed by lunch with the guys at Le Sportif. This Sunday? Nothing. Not a single stroke. And do you know what? I feel great as a result…
Despite the obvious benefits of rest – muscle recovery, mental recovery – and the fact it helps make us stronger, getting a dedicated cyclist to cease chewing on his or her handlebars is usually one of those curious impossibilities of life. Programmes like Strava don’t help either; should I be cycling if the competition is?
But how to rest? Instead of catching up on life, crossing those pesky tasks off your mental or physical to-do list (depending on how organised you are) and indulging in a lunch that isn’t based solely around sugar or bananas, many cyclists get serious and spend the day stretching, stressing and over thinking what it takes to recover.
Forget all that. Sit down, put your feet up, sleep, watch a film, drink a beer, sip at a coffee, eat a brownie, visit a coffee shop, take a stroll. Whatever you do, the best thing to be mindful of is mindlessness. Part of the recovery process is to make sure that your brain is happy to put your legs back on the bike. Once your brain is on its way the legs almost always follow.
Unless you’re a professional, don’t turn burnout recovery into a science. There’s no need. The day you can’t make yourself cycle at all may only come once or twice a year. Enjoy it. Making it technical would be akin to strictly timetabling Christmas Day. If I want to open all my presents at 6am I will, thank you very much; who cares if you want to do a family unwrapping at 9?