I always have trouble getting started after a break. Always. Just as I feared I would last month when I pushed for too long without rest, I’m really struggling to train again.
Bryanna moved out while I was off the bike. This had always been the plan. As much as we would love to have our own place together, the reality is that I simply cannot afford to pay rent if I’m away racing most of the year. I’m very fortunate to be able to stay at my dad’s place when I’m not away racing, and for the past year, Bryanna was staying there with me. Living with roommates and in your partner’s dad’s place is definitely tough though, and I absolutely support her move. It’s certainly positive for her mental health which is of utmost importance.
For me though, it’s not that great. Not yet anyways. Living apart from your person after being with them for so long is hard. I think it’s even harder knowing that she’s nearby, as opposed to being at least a few provinces over when we’re apart during the race season. I still see her every day, but I’m always lonely at night. Night is usually when I suffer, and it’s hard to suffer alone.
The first night at home without her I went down to brush my teeth before bed. I sat there; surprised that one could feel lonely while brushing their teeth; an activity Bryanna and I always do together. Later I lay in bed, unaccustomed to the silence of having no one to talk to in the dark before falling asleep. Fig (our cat) is with her too.
Now, it’s not all bad. I love her place and I stay there some nights. I’m honestly very proud of her and her home, and seeing her so happy is heart-warming. I know it’s a little tough for her at times too. This would be easier for me if I wasn’t already feeling blue.
Bryanna’s move has been tough for me, which hasn’t helped my already unmotivated and down state. I find myself in a similar position to this time last year.
I want to ride. That’s what troubles me. But I don’t want to be cold or wet on the bike. It’s more than that though. It’s like writer’s block but for cycling. I know what I want to do and what I need to do in order to do what I want, but for whatever reason, there’s something that won’t allow me to enjoy it.
Sunday was my first ride since my little rest period. The plan was originally to start on Monday, but I was dreading it due to how busy Mondays are for me. I have a shift from 6:30-10:30 at a yoga studio, then work from 3-8:30. I know there’s a long break in between, but it’s such a long day that Monday was a daunting first day back, if that makes sense. So I decided on Saturday that I’d just start a day early instead, so that the pressure to ride on Monday wouldn’t be so heavy.
I kind of figured that, by changing my plan, I’d be curbing the whole ‘first day back’ stress that always bothers me. But on Sunday I rolled out and wasn’t keen. I was already questioning whether this was the right move as I rode the 10 minutes to meet my fellow riders. Maybe I need more time off. But if I take more time off I’ll lose more fitness. Why is winter always so tough? How can I do this? How can I get through winter this year? Why don’t I want to ride?
When I met up with the rest of the group and we made a plan, my main concern was how long it would be until I was home. We set off and less than a minute later Emile was on the ground with a broken arm after hitting a pole on the bike path. We waited for him to get a lift to the hospital before continuing on.
I spent the next 2.5 hours in my head repeating the same questions to myself. The longer I rode the more I questioned things. What’s most frustrating about all of this is that everything was fine. It wasn’t too cold. It was dry. It was a little sunny. I wasn’t slow. But for whatever reason I couldn’t do anything but beat myself up.
I didn’t ride again until this morning. I didn’t want to. Of course, today, I crashed. It wasn’t bad; I just slipped on some ice. But my chain jammed itself between my chainring and bottom bracket and I couldn’t get it out. I resorted to calling Bryanna’s colleague for a ride home and waiting in a market. I was super angry to have ripped my brand new winter tights which I had dropped a fair amount of money on this fall, and even more frustrated that I had finally been strong enough to go out and ride, only for the ride to be cut short by yet another fall.
I’ve sort of come to realize that winter is winter. Whether it’s raining or not, my mind suffers. I’m sad more often at this time of year. My motivation takes the brunt of winter’s force. I’m trying to figure out how to manage it - how to fight my brain’s natural tendencies in a healthy way. I know what I want to do but for some reason it’s more than just doing what I want. Cycling isn’t the only part of my life that winter affects either. I have less motivation to go to work, less confidence, less motivation to cook or clean and really just less motivation to make any effort whatsoever.
Perhaps the right word is energy. I don’t have the energy.
I’m not feeling extreme sadness like I did last year. I’m mainly neutral, I would say. I’m doing my best to do what I can to be mentally healthy, including yoga, walks, taking photos, sitting in coffee shops and spending time with Bryanna. I’m doing more in terms of prevention with an acute awareness of what route I do not want to follow. However, it seems this is a state of being which I need to live with.
I’m working toward functioning as highly as possible through my winter blues, if you will. I’m going to be strong come spring. I’m determined. This won’t consume me. Not again. I’m working with my mind and not against or in denial of it.
We’ll see how it goes.