Three, the number of colds I’ve had since beginning training in November. The last one lasted one and half weeks, and took me off my bike completely during what would have been a tough training block. Years prior, either two things would have happened; a) I would have buried myself trying to train through it b) I would have lost my mind from stressing out about not training. This year is different though… it needed to be different.
A Bad Balance
I put a lot of pressure on myself the previous race season to succeed. I had the notion in my head that I had to prove to everyone that having a baby (my son Nolan was born in January 2015) wasn’t going to end my racing career. I pushed hard to compete, and ended up having the most successful race season to date. It came with great sacrifices though. Sacrifices that were far from worth it. I defended my training so fiercely, that I pushed away my family. The worst I can remember is a time I had just brought my wife home from the hospital after having complications from child birth. She was tired and desperately needed to rest, but in my mind I needed to train more. I insisted on hopping on the trainer rather than letting my wife rest after a long day. That is only one of many times I let my training take too high of a priority. Biking used to be my number one stress reliever, but suddenly it became my number one stress. I had become a monster.
Finding Myself in Spain
The month I spent in Sevilla, Spain from mid-October to mid-November may have been the healthiest thing I’ve done in the last six years for myself mentally. I had my victorious race year, but there was no enjoyment in my success. My marriage was in shambles, and I knew that this trip was more than just a vacation. I needed to re-analysis what was most important in my life, and try to fix the damage I had caused. I elected to stay off a bike for the trip, and just enjoy life with my family. Letting go felt good, and for the first time all year I felt alive again. I thought about the previous year, and couldn’t remember one time I enjoyed being on the bike. It had become too much about competing and less about the joy of being on a bike.
A New Path
I contemplated quitting biking altogether. When I got back on a bike for the first time in nearly two months in November, I knew biking needed to once again become a stress reliever, not my reason to stress. I needed to rediscover my love for biking, but not let it consume me. Biking needed to make me a better person, not an intolerable tyrant.
Finding the Balance
Between sickness, and traveling to see family, I have taken more training days off than I have in my whole endurance racing career. Will it make me slower this season? I don’t really care. Life happens, and if I stress myself out over not training so much that it affects my mood which affects my home life then maybe I shouldn’t be training at all. Doing badly at a race isn’t nearly as bad as letting myself become the monster I was. Who knows, maybe this new stress free lifestyle will make me faster in the long run. I don’t know if I’ll make it on the podium this year, but I do know that I’ll be a lot happier. I also know my family enjoys, and deserves a better me.