Is It You, Me, or This F@#$*%^ Bike? – How to Handle a Bad Performance

For anyone who group cycles or does any level of group aerobic training knows the feeling when the body after a number of long workouts gradually begins to run low on gas. You’ve put in the work throughout the week; you was at the top of the class on Day 1; you killed it on Day 2; you did pretty good on Day 3; but Day 4 you lagged, and on Day 5, well… I’m writing this article aren’t I? Many times you are able to push the body beyond the signs of fatigue and the body goes along. But sometimes, the body wins and you are left sitting in class trying to go with the flow.

Fatigue is a very real element of the training process that I have experienced too many times. You hit a speedbump and you’re left thinking I want to move but the body doesn’t budge. It can sometimes be hard to pin point but some times it isn’t. Maybe you didn’t eat enough before the ride or maybe you had too much, maybe you’re on your 6th workout of the week but you burned yourself out on the 4th, maybe you’re just tired.

If you’re like me and you go hard in every indoor cycle class or every group ride and believe faster is always better, hitting the speedbump can send you through a number of emotions.

I’ve worked out more than all these other guys. They’re not even working that hard.

If you can be as competitive as myself, the first thing you may do during a bad performance is look around at everyone else. You may look down and see how fast they are pedaling, start watching to see how everyone else is applying their resistance, or watching to see if everyone is doing what the instructor is saying. Try not to do this. Just as you are having a bad performance, others may be adhering to their own workout regiment and it may not call for going as hard as you. Comparing yourself to the other riders does not help in the long run; it only helps to soothe your ego. Cut it out!

This music sucks which is why I’m performing so bad.

Yes. When you’re looking for something to blame, you never run out of scapegoats. Sometimes the music is bad or not your taste but the reality is that you are simply searching for something to blame as you listened to the same music a few days ago if not last week. Although this is harmless, mentally note that you are looking for something to blame and you won’t stop until you have attributed your bad performance to something.

I’m the most advanced here and now I can’t pedal and everyone is watching.

You may be the most advanced or one of the top riders, but everyone has a bad performance every now and then. You are not so great that you are immune to these. You may feel that everyone is paying attention to you, but if you are as good as you think you are, then everyone else, if they are looking at you at all, will only think that either you are tired or the instructor is on their A-game. Regardless, no one is thinking about you and the pain is in your head. Let it go and keep moving your legs.

The instructor is trying to break me down on purpose.

Back to the excuses, you cry baby! The instructor is not out to break you intentionally but she may see you performance. If you feel that you performance was significantly under your average, ask your instructor if they saw you and what you can do to improve. If they didn’t, describe what happened and ask for tips to improve. But remember that the instructor probably teaches a class or two a day with ten plus members a class, she is definitely not out to get you.

What is this pain in my calf?

Hardcore performances require a lot of energy and intensity. If you are going as hard as you think, you need to make sure to have the right levels of nutrition and hydration. These two items are the most important elements of any ride and you need to make sure to properly maintain your body before doing any intense workout, aerobic or not. And stop being a cry baby!

I knew I shouldn’t have worked out before this.

It is important to work out your entire body regardless of your activity. A bodybuilder who ignores cardio exercises like running, swimming, or cycling, will run into problems later in life just as a cyclist who refuses to lift. Just because you call yourself a runner doesn’t exclude you from needing to do other exercises. Cross-training is necessary to break the monotony of doing the same routine and stimulates the body to stay loose and flexible. But also make sure that if you work out before that you properly stretch and you accommodate that activity so that you don’t overexert yourself.

Damn that instructor!

This will be a common feeling. Just try to keep moving.

I guess I’m going to have to take tomorrow off.

This may very well need to occur. Bad performances sometimes can be a clue that you need to rest and take a break. The human body is a complex machine and rest is it’s ability to recharge and restructure processes. If your body is fatigued, give it sleep. One day of rest will not destroy your gains; in fact, it will improve upon those gains. Some cyclists take up to two weeks off. Take tomorrow off. Get some sleep. Relax. It will do the body tons of good.

I’m done cycling forever.

Don’t be stupid! Bad performances are part of the game. Being dropped from rides, falling behind other riders, cramps in your calves, all of this is part of the game. You can’t go quitting because you had a bad performance. Switch up the exercise and come back in a day or two rested up ready to go. Bad performances are on the job-training sessions. Maybe you stopped pedaling when you should have kept pedaling, maybe you fell too far behind and wasn’t able to catch up, maybe you need to drop a little more weight or strengthen your wrists, or your legs, or your calves. Analyze your performance, read up on what happened, get some tips from other riders, and keep it moving. Get back on the bike and shut up crying! Geez!

These are all feelings and it’s  sometimes important to remember that. The body is a very intricate machine but if pushed too far the body will sometimes push back. Rest is as equally important for a cyclist as enthusiasm and energy to keep moving and keep gaining. Going hard 24/7 is not always ideal.

These things happen and downing yourself, your instructors, or the others around you, never solves any problems (if there is a problem at all). Everyone has bad days, bad rides, and bad performances and nothing sucks more than being dropped from a ride, cramping up, or fatiguing to the point of freezing up, but staying motivated is the key to building strength and endurance. But sometimes you just have to give the body a break.

So give yourself a break and give your instructor a break, take a day off and get back to it tomorrow. Don’t Quit! Keep Going!

#CycleLife

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T/IG/FB: @dansari24; @themk_project

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