Fishing Trip: I Need a Pep Talk

Ok, that’s it.  We’re going on a fishing trip.  And you know what we’re gonna catch?


We’re gonna catch the freaking season limit of Pep.

Here’s the deal.  I’m tired.  I’m really, really tired.  I have a ton of work right now, and I will never complain about that, but last week I reached a tipping point and I started letting it affect my workouts on the bike (read: I started missing or shortening them).

I could fit them in (especially now that I’ve dialed them back a little) but I’m sorely lacking in the motivation department.  I sit at my computer for 13-14 hours (this workload is temporary) making words and pictures and then I can just barely drag myself into a hot bath with a magazine.

That’s not the Everyday Athlete way and we know it, right?

Lulls are part of the game and a natural occurence I suppose, but that doesn’t mean we can’t quietly (or not so quietly?) battle our way out of them. I know getting on the bike will make me feel better – I know this. But I can’t seem to do it.  Just finding gear and locating a pump seems overwhelming.

So, here I am I’m in the corner sitting on a stool and I have a cut above my eye, but they’re going to let me keep fighting.  So, take the guard out of my mouth, squirt me in the face with water a few times, and let me have it.

I need a pep talk.

I need an anthem.  A battle cry.  A rally.

Let me have it people.  Shove the sickening athletic optimistic pollyanna crap that I usually spew right back down my throat.

Are you there god? It’s me, Snarkypants.

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  1. Life is too short to spend indoors. The worst day on your bike becomes a great day when you think back on it later. If you need a battle cry to start pedaling. “I’m handing out ass whoopings and lollipops, and i’m all out of lollipops!!” It works for me when I need to get going and don’t feel like it.

  2. I hear ya, I’m sitting here at my computer in all my running crap trying to finish today’s work and summon the will power to go do today’s track workout but its not really coming.

  3. Well cuz, all I’ve got is the page I ripped out of a magazine two years ago that says, “no one ever regretted going for a run”. I know you. I know you love that bike. But I think you need to seize a beautiful spring evening (or morning, or afternoon) and go for a run.


  4. Joel. I’m calling you out. That wasn’t a very good pep talk. ;)
    Phil. Love it. Love it!!

  5. Jenny – Fucking wise as usual. Wow. You might have it exactly right with the running business. I forgot!

  6. Guy Smith

    You have gotten me through two open heart surgeries, and a come back season of cross! You need to remember who you are and whats inside you, and get your ass back outside!

  7. Guy – You’re the best! :) That made me smile. I can’t wait to see you race again this year!

  8. You feel tired, you look tired, but you’re still miles away from tired. If you were really tired, this mental tipping would have ended and you’d be in a pile on the floor.

    You’re actually much closer to being not-tired. That you still have the strength to turn your head and glimpse the silver edges of not-tired means you and it are still in the same room. Not-tired is hiding as best it can, but the two of you are in very close quarters. About face!

  9. Two thoughts:

    1. Life happens, and sometimes its not compatible with training. We need to seek balance over the course of a week, a week, a year, our life (not every day).

    2. Suck it up buttercup. Get your butt on your bike and go for a ride!

  10. Ed Rowell

    For me losing my way almost always a result of confusing work and play. Sure, we all want to be faster, stronger, and have a clearer complexion, so we get intentional and start training. But even in the midst of hard training we have to be conscious of our true motive. Why do we do what we do? For me, its pretty simple. I ride, run, ski, and whatever else I can fit in because its fun.

    And yes, its more fun if I’m faster. But at whatever point play becomes work, I’m screwed. Because then its just work all the time. I’m working now, and at 3 p.m. I’ll stop working on X and go get on the bike and work some more. Nothing takes the joy out of a hobby or passion like making it just another job.

    The whole rhythm of life got out of synch when we stopped getting obligatory recess. Put recess back in your life and remember, its your recess. You can play king of the mountain, swing, tetherball, whatever. There’s no boss at recess except the one in your head.

    I’d suggest getting on the bike with no agenda, no schedule, no goal except to play. Hit your favorite trail or road. Put some tassels on your handlebars, stick a playing card in your spokes. Build a ramp with a board a board propped up on a cinder block and see how much air you can get.

    I hear the bell…its time for recess. And maybe if we can reach back far enough to Kindergarten, a nap after lunch.

  11. Hey Snarky Pants –

    I’ve got something inspirational for you. After commenting yesterday and seeing your response I drug myself to the track and went about doing my workout. I wanted to shorten it and stop every 400m but I pushed through and what do you know I ran my fastest mile ever! I crushed my PR by over 11 seconds! I keep learning over and over that when you push through the hard part often you can get some amazing results!

    Besides if you want the workout to end there’s really only one thing to do if you want to feel good about yourself at the end, Go Faster!

  12. I debated the tone I wanted to take in response to your post and finally settled on tough love… So here goes:

    Let me get this straight… You are complaining because you are burdened with too much work and not enough energy to get outside and play? Leaving aside the fact that you are working when others aren’t, stop your complaining and go do it.

    There are only 24 hours in a day. Make the most of every one of them. Last time I checked, working 13 hours still leaves you with 11 hours to sleep, eat and work out (I’m sure you could squeeze that bubble bath in, too.)

    And one final thought. Somewhere, someone is working, and they’re working hard. When you meet them in head-to-head competition, will you be ready?

  13. Okay, Heidi. How may days have you been off a bike? I am guessing it’s less than 20. And, if I am right, OMG you are so FINE. Seriously, cycling should not be a job. Unless you are making money at it, in which case, get your f-ing ass on a bike right now and throw down some intervals.

    Otherwise, go on a walk. Sit in the park and write. Go get coffee. Stare at random internet sites for 10 minutes. Accept that you are tired and that this won’t last forever. It’s just the way it is sometimes. Every September, I work 14-hour days, can’t sleep and SWEAR to Brian that I have anxiety problems. No joke, this happens EVERY YEAR, seven years running. Well, guess what happens in September? Oh yeah, it’s the beginning of the school year. And then October comes and I relax and work out like a fiend and feel 10,000 times better. But I have to get through September first.

    Somehow, I always make it to October. Go figure.

    So, what I’m sayin’ is: relax. You’re fine. Take a deep breath. October is a-comin’.

  14. Sam,
    The tough love is very much appreciated though I do think that some of what I intended was lost in translation for you.
    “I have a ton of work right now, and I will never complain about that, but last week I reached a tipping point and I started letting it affect my workouts on the bike (read: I started missing or shortening them)”
    So, I’m not complaining about the work – I agreed to it, I’m frankly very much enjoying it, and given the chance, I would do it all exactly the same way again. I was simply stating a fact. It’s a lot of time at a desk.
    Regarding your time management comment, I actually did explicitly admit that I could find time for these workouts – I pointed out that the issue was motivation, not necessarily time.
    So, yes, go do it. The point is taken. I get up every morning (often at 4:30) to go do it. The fact is that we’re not machines (as I sometimes wish I was), we’re human beings with crazy things like emotions and melting points. The post was not a complaint, it was a request for help – help which I received in so many forms it was inspiring and overwhelming.
    I think being able to admit frustration or lethargy or fatigue is important. And being able to ask for help getting through those times is equally important.
    Thanks to everyone for chiming in when I needed a little “chin-up!”

  15. Eryn,
    And October is ‘cross season!!!
    Part of my rally plan after reading everyone’s emails and comments was a short run this morning (check! awesome!) and a ‘cross ride this afternoon. I forgot how much those sweet little skinny knobby tires mean to me.

  16. Well it seems that everyone has covered the obvious ways to sort out this rough patch…

    I think you need a new gadget for your bike. Works for me every time! Maybe it’s some nice new carbon water bottle cages? Maybe it’s a shiny new saddle? Or some bling-a-rific wheels… (I know they’re expensive but you have a lot of work right now…)

    If that doesn’t get you excited to head out I don’t know what will….


  17. The big question is WHY are you riding? If it brings you joy, you’ll get on the bike when you’re ready for that joy. But if it’s a job (new team = new expectations = performance anxiety, perhaps?) than you’ll have times when you’ll dread it. Bike riding is not your job. It’s the anti-job.

    Example: I love to ride. Love it. But after reflecting on the little bit of road racing I did last year, I realized that aspect of riding I don’t like so much. So I’m not. Short track will be fun. Tabor even, in a sick way, may be fun. Randonneuring = big long fun. Cross = duh.

    I know you worship the pros, but this is the downside to comparing yourself to people who make a living on their bikes. Go ride YOUR ride.

  18. Ed Rowell

    I also love the “Coach Yakima” ads that ran last year from the bike rack people. My favorite was the one where the grumpy old coach was holding up a pacifer and the caption read, “too tired to ride? I’ve got something for you.”

  19. Mt Mann – The wise words of Brubaker coming back! Ride your ride, Swift!

    In fact, I do love to ride and I actually really, really, really enjoy the focus and payoff of concerted training. I like the tactics and sheer brutality of road racing. It’s so crazy hard it’s kind of mind-boggling. And ruthless, just ruthless. The whole getting dropped by the peloton thing? Just crushing. But in a way that usually makes me want to rally. It demands a level of fitness (jesus, even at this stupid cat 4 level) that is pretty crazy. I love all that about it.

    What challenges me sometimes is the time demand and the sheer amount of crap/gear requirements. I recall heading to the start line of my TT at Cherry Blosson last week and realizing that I didn’t have my glasses on. As I raced back to get them I was thinking, “Could there possibly be ANY MORE gear required for this sport!?”

    So… I ran this morning. Shoes and laces and some stretchy clothing. Arms moving back and forth. No gears, no clicking.

    It was nice.

    I love me some pros sometimes, but I make no bones about being one, or acting like one. Truth be told, I think the pro lifestyle is generally pretty shitty. I like health insurance and baking clay pot chickens whenever I want to and sleeping in my own bed.

    Really, my frustration doesn’t come down to the fact that I think I should be able to ride 20 hours a week, its that I can see the wisdom and planning of my training schedule (a plan that is cumulative) and I like the moments where I get to realize results. Those big a-ha moments where I can actually FEEL fitness gains are completely mind-boggling and incredible. I want more of those!

    I don’t think the current lull is indicative of a major overlying issue, I’m pretty sure it’s just a hiccup along the way. But it’s good to take pause and think about things like what you point out – the source of motivation and the core reasons. I need to re-read David Rowe’s e-book, I think!! And get down to the heart of things!

  20. MJ: You’re definitely on to something :) Actually, a new outfit would work. If my team kit came, that would be really rad. :)

    Joel: Dude, killing your mile PR by 11 seconds is HUGE. Congratulations and that was definitely a better pep talk than yesterday’s attempt!

    Ed: I LOVE the recess analogy. Love it. Very powerful and clear. And has to do with monkey bars, which is always a triple bonus.

    Jono: That was brilliant. Really. What great imagery! I’m going to grab not-tired by the hand and suggest that we skip off to recess together.

  21. I’m getting up at 6am to do intervals before work Thursday…so you tell yourself “get up, get out and get going. and you know you’ll feel better once you start and especially when done. what you do today will pay off for ‘cross season” :)

    On a softer note, when you’re tired for whatever reason, maybe it’s time to have just a fun ride or two. no agenda, just a ride. it can be for 30 minutes or 3 hrs. Stop half way through for a guilty pleasure, an espresso & pastry or whatever. then ride back home with a big smile.

  22. I always tell my male friends to “pick up your skirt and suck it up Sally”… I guess it wouldn’t work in this case.

  23. Maybe you just need a burger. I like Castagna. xoxoJ

  24. Don Burnett

    Like Skippy said to the bowl of Jello after watching it shake for six frames of the comic strip, “Relax”. We tend to beat up on ourselves so, Chris Carmichael, Everything I’ve read on training warns of overtraining.

    I’ve just finished a four month battle with metastatic breast cancer and heart problems and I just don’t ride unless I feel like it. Now I’m stronger than I have felt in 2-3 years.

  25. Dude. What you really need is a nice frosty pina colada from the Tiki Bar. There’s always time for that. I’m also making a pair of glasses out of two dream catchers so that everything I see will be mine. I’ll let you borrow them if you want…

    Seriously, though. You’re commitment to the sport is making me feel like a total cubicle-dwelling sissy. Please continue to work all day and throw in a little couch-surfing action while you’re at it. TV. In-Touch magazine. Online shopping. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it just like me.


  26. Just remember Swift Boat, that much of the work that gets pounded out in those 13-14 hour days goes towards something bigger than you— inspiring people to get off their butts and out into the wind. Part of being inspired is having good sources for inspiration; and that comes in many forms. But a few words from Swifty here and there makes me feel better, and also makes me not feel guilty for fucking off and going to the mountain or the beach.

  27. geosteve

    There’s a guy who lives down the street from me who’s in a wheelchair as the result of a motorcycle accident. I see him struggle diligently everyday with the simple things we take for granted: taking in the groceries, taking out the garbage, walking…you get the idea.

    I used to think, “Everything is an obstacle for that guy”. But he doesn’t see it that way.

    Don’t ride because you feel obliged to keep up some kind of regiment or to relieve the rigors of work.

    Ride because you can.

  28. I’m with geosteve. “Ride because you can.”

    As someone who will never be a serious athlete for medical reasons myself, every time I swing a leg over the top tube it’s a good day, even if the fatigue gets the best of me and I have to toss my bike on the bus halfway home. It doesn’t matter. Just go ride your bike, somewhere, anywhere. The joy and fire will return.

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