I’ve been needing extra recovery the last week and a half so, and I’ve just been paying attention to my own thoughts and narrative around recovery rides or weeks. Truth- sometimes I beat myself up over it. I also had someone DM me on instagram the other day telling me he feels lazy or guilty when he takes a recovery day. I often have a tug-of-war in my head between “I’m taking care of myself and it’s okay to need more recovery” vs “I’m pissed I’m missing out on training days and there’s something wrong with me…or WHAT is wrong with me?!”
The fact is that we won’t feel fast or strong all the time. And there are times we just need rest. Training is not the only input that effects how we feel on our bikes- there are life stresses like mental and emotional fatigue that are scientifically proven to affect performance. Many of us put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to feel good, be fast, or always be doing long or epic rides. This is just a very small chip off the iceberg on the topic of self-worth. One question to ponder- does your self-worth come from your achievements?
We generally celebrate hustle, hard work, or we give extra kudos when someone does a long or hard ride. The top of leaderboards reflect people riding tons of miles or hours. But we rarely celebrate the times when someone ends their ride early and listens to their body because they are tired. We don’t even acknowledge it in our own head as a win. We beat ourselves up if we go out to do intervals but realize we are too tired to do them. We feel “less than” when it looks like everyone is doing longer rides and we aren’t. We feel guilty if we take a day off.
The thing is that being a “leader” or being someone people consider “fast” doesn’t mean your name is always at the top of the heap. It means you have the courage to rest. The difference between a good and a great athlete is how hard you go on a recovery day- or knowing when to turn around and go home. Sometimes it’s really hard to know the difference of when you should push through fatigue and when you should rest and we think, “should I just keep pushing?” That comes from experience.
Sometimes being a leader means having the courage and confidence to rest when you need it. The last piece is learning to be okay in your head with rest when you do need it. It’s not always easy to be kind to yourself when you need more time off the bike. Recognizing negative thoughts as they come up and then reframing them is helpful. Also, just feeling the emotion and then having self-compassion saying “it’s okay” can help too. My husband has a great phrase when one of us is still not recovered. He says to me, “That’s okay, you’re still getting faster!”
That said, there’s a nuanced difference between not getting on your bike because you are being lazy and not riding or going home early BECAUSE you have been working hard and need rest. Rest is different than being lazy.
So! This post is for anyone who feels guilty when they rest or go easy. It’s for the person who beats themself up when they turn around and go home because they are too tired. It’s for the person who wonders IF they should turn around and go home but never does. Right now- that person is ME. I’ve been struggling, and I want you to know you aren’t alone when/if you feel the same way. I want you to remember this post next time the critic comes into your head and tells you you’re not enough. I want you to remember that taking rest when you need it is also worth celebrating and worth giving kudos! The mojo WILL come back!