Race Team Director Michele Moulton cruises along Westover Boulveard during a group ride Saturday morning.
Taking a break from working out is sometimes best
It’s May, and I am in the peak of my cycling season. I should be excited about riding, anxious about racing and enjoying all of the hours I’m spending on my bike. But I haven’t been.
Kent is my training partner. We ride together week after week. We travel hours to race. The last two weekends I did something that I haven’t done in several years. I attended back to back race weekends with Kent and didn’t race. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
Kent and I went to Athens for the Terrapin Twilight Criterium. Twilight is a huge race held annually in Athens, and the town rolls out the red carpet for all of the cyclists. Kent’s plans were to race in the Master’s 35plus criterium. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with cycling, a criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course often run on closed-off city center streets. Crits are usually less than 1 km.)
I was supposed to race in the Women’s 1,2 race but I just didn’t feel it. I started thinking to myself, “What is wrong?” I talked to Kent about my dilemma, and his answer made perfect sense.
I should be having fun racing, and when it stops being fun then something needs to change. So, I didn’t race. I didn’t race in Athens on Saturday or in Roswell the next day or in Sandy Springs the following weekend.
Instead, I did a 62 mile fun ride in Athens and a 70 mile group ride in Atlanta the following weekend. I needed the break from the intensity of racing. Instead, the rides that I did were carefree and fun.... a nice change.
At some point in time, everyone gets burned out and needs a break. Life gets so demanding and we often are so rushed that we don’t want to admit that we need some time off. In today’s world, down time is often unheard of. Don’t be afraid to admit that you just need a break. I was hesitant to speak out about my lack of desire to race, but the time away from the racing scene did wonders for me. I am looking forward to racing this weekend in Gainesville. I just needed some time to recharge.
The big question that I’ve been asking myself is what causes us to burn out? There are numerous culprits that can invade our lives and zap the life out of us. I thought about the main ones that caused my recent rut. Are any of these affecting your life??
OVERTRAINING: I realize that most of my articles are about motivating people to exercise more. However, there comes a point when you might be working your body too hard. If you’re going to the gym for hours each day, you might be tearing your body down too much. Muscles need recovery time to build back up. Take a week or two off and then slowly get back into your workout routine. I know I am guilty of overtraining. Riding a bike 180 plus miles a week, lifting weights, teaching 4-5 classes a week and racing…. It’s a lot. And my body finally said, “I need a break.”
DIET: Diet is 90 percent of the fitness equation. Take a good look at the foods that you are putting into your body. You can’t focus on exercise if you’re not also mindful of what you put in your mouth. Your body needs the right foods to handle intense workouts. Junk foods, sugar and empty calories do not build strong bodies. Water is also a key element to a successful workout. Staying hydrated is key to performance. Fuel your body properly. I do not drink enough water. I always take two water bottles with me on a bike ride. Rarely do I drink both bottles. I can’t tell you how much water and Gatorade I have thrown out because I didn’t drink enough on long rides. I am trying to do better.
SLEEP: Your body needs time to recover from intense workouts. If you aren’t giving yourself enough rest at night then your body is going to have a hard time recovering from tough cardio and strength training sessions. Your progress may come to a standstill or even go backwards if you don’t get the proper amount of sleep. Ideally, seven or eight hours of sleep will give you the rest you need to refuel and recover. I fail miserably at this. I am a night owl, but I also teach early morning group fitness classes…. Those two are not a good pair. I often try to function on five hours of sleep, and it’s not fun sitting at work in front of a computer all day trying to keep your eyes open. Go to bed!
STRESS: Stress will physically and emotionally drain you if you aren’t careful. Exercise relieves stress, but if your life is in overdrive all of the time, it can’t get rid of all of it. I often get overwhelmed trying to take care of everything…. Work deadlines, my two boys, the house, the yard, my workouts. It’s always something. As stress builds, take a step back, get organized, breathe deeply and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. I am trying to work on this one, but it’s tough.
Are you heading for a rut? Can you feel yourself slowly burning out? We all need to recognize that more is not always better. Push yourself to excel but know your limits. Look for the warning signs before you completely lose your drive like I did for those few weeks. Don’t use this article as an excuse to be lazy…. Use it as a tool to take care of yourself when you are asking too much out of your body. Unfortunately, none of us are super-human. We fatigue. We get tired. Don’t be ashamed of admitting that you need a break. Life is too short. Enjoy it.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say Happy Mother’s Day to my mama, Debbie Moulton. Thank you for everything that you do for me and the boys. I love you.
Michele Moulton has been a fitness instructor for over 21 years and is a certified Spinning instructor. She teaches at PT Gym and is an avid cyclist. She is an accountant and a mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.