Hey, everybody, and welcome to episode 37 of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast. Today, we are going to talk a little bit about knowing when to pull the plug on what, and when, in order to keep yourself on track and to keep from burning out.
Human Vortex Training and Menachem Brodie present The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast, where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, tech, and much more to help you get fitter, faster, and stronger, in and out of your sport, giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts, and now, your host, world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie.
Well, there’s a lot of different things that go on in our lives that sometimes we get a little bit out of tune and what we need to do is we need to be very quick to recognize them to make sure that we are able to continue on the path that we have chosen. This is very challenging for a lot of people, especially nowadays, where we tend to be either really, really unproductive because there are so many distractions in life, or we get super-focused and we get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time. How do you know when to pull the plug on something and to keep yourself in balance?
While this comes through trial and tribulation and getting to know thyself, this is not something easy to do. It’s something that a lot of people try to figure out by watching others, but it doesn’t always work like that. In fact, there are many people whom I’ve coached in the past who have said that, “Yeah, yeah, I saw so-and-so burned out and they haven’t been on their bike for X number of weeks,” or months, or years, whatever it may be, and then they want to come back in and jump back in where they were. Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way.
Here, we’re at the end of February of 2020, so this is fantastic timing for this episode for a number of reasons. From an athletic standpoint, this is where a lot of the Northern Hemisphere athletes are going to start to feel the winter blues, where it is really, really tough for us to be able to continue to progress as you need to just because we’re starting to lose some of your motivation to go through and push another ride on the trainer, another workout in the gym, and you’re just having that lack of motivation and you think, “Oh, I’m just going to keep on pushing.”
If you read Tony Gentilcore’s blog, tonygentilcore.com, earlier this week, he actually had how to battle the winter F it’s. Essentially, what he’s talking about is that there are a lot of number of things that happen that we get into the middle of winter and we really struggle. This is something that I’ve actually helped three HVT athletes with in the last week because they were going through it themselves, and truth be told, the reason we haven’t released a podcast for two weeks is because I myself have hit this as well.
Now, mine’s a little bit different. I actually have been a giant couch potato for the better part of the last six months due to a broken fibula and then a torn meniscus needing to be repaired, so it’s greatly limited any type of athletic endeavor I’ve been able to undertake due to the recovery periods. Now, that doesn’t mean I haven’t stayed active, but I will say that this is the least shape, the worst shape that I have had since high school, and I’m somebody who’s always trying and striving to stay in some type of shape so that I’m able to keep up with my riders, keep up with my triathletes, and make sure that they’re getting what they need, so just by the way of the universe, I’ve had to back off.
What this has done is allow me to become hyper-productive on content producing, so those of you who follow the HV Training YouTube channel have noticed we’ve started putting out videos every Thursday with a different type of exercise and technique, as well as finishing the book, The Vortex Method, which will be released here on Amazon in Kindle format and paperback format before the end of February. As of right now, it’s just going through proofreading and formatting, so it’ll be up in the next 10 days, essentially, if not sooner. I believe today is the 21st, so in the next eight days, you are going to have access to The Vortex Method.
However, these two things, along with the fact that I had finished writing and putting together and proofing and organizing and recording all of the content for the strength training for cyclist certification, plus the launch for that, plus the foundations of strength training for cycling performance, plus the 12-week home strength-training program, and you have, well, don’t forget, plus, the PezCycling news blog posts, plus the TrainingPeaks’ blog posts, plus next week on Thursdays, TrainingPeaks’ Facebook Live, and you have a ton of content that has been produced in the last six months, which is very unusual.
A lot of this is because I made the decision that when I got hurt, that I was going to put my energy that I could no longer put into training, instead of getting frustrated there, that I would turn it into something productive, as opposed to allowing it to get into that negative realm, and now, I’ve reached the point of, I need a break as well, so I’m with you. If you’re looking at the bike on the trainer when you come home and you’re just, “I really just don’t want to get on the thing. All right, maybe I’ll try the rollers,” and you get 10 minutes into your roller ride and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I just don’t want to do this. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the motivation,” great. Listen to your body. Go do something else.
That’s what we’re going to do here with the podcast, so what you’ll notice is the next couple of weeks, we have a couple really good archived episodes, including one with Sebastian Weber, the second time he’s appearing on the show here, and I’ll do a couple other interviews and maybe pop on if I have a thought or two here, but what I’m going to do is turn my energy pretty much a hundred percent into two areas or three areas in my life.
Number one is going to be my health, getting myself back up and running and able to handle the rigors of training and number two is going to be for my family and give them the attention and time that’s been sacrificed. That was a decision we both made together, my wife and I, for me to put together these awesome programs to have them before summer so that you would be able to tap into them, and the third is my clients that I have right now. They have been very patient. The first surgery, I was out for two weeks, the second surgery, I was out for about seven days, and they have been very good. We’ve had a lot more Skype sessions, but now is the time we’re getting closer to the season that they’re going to need a little bit more of my attention helping them to turn the right screw or flick the right button and get their fitness to be able to crush it for the spring races including 70.3 Galveston, for Half Ironman, and a number of other races.
Now, how does this relate to you and not wanting to get onto the trainer? I’m here to tell you today, we’re taking a break from the podcast. I just cannot continue to put out a quality podcast. I could certainly sit here and do a crappy job and put together, “Oh, well, training is important because you need consistency,” and then I’m not practicing what I’m preaching. Why would I put out a bad product when I don’t have to? I think that you, as listeners, based on the questions that you’ve been sending me and the feedback that you’ve been giving and the five-star ratings, thank you very much for those as well, that you’ve been giving, that you appreciate the quality of the content. This is where the consistency is important.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, hold on a second, Brodie. You’re saying that you’re taking a break, but now you’re talking about consistency, so which is it?” Just like your workouts on the trainer, in the pool, or running, the consistency that we’re looking for is the quality of the… Essentially, each and every one of the times that you hit the road for training, or the pool, we want quality. There are definitely days where it’s a doldrum and you just have to get it done, but you also need to recognize when you are starting to go well down that path of reaching burnout or even overreaching or over-training.
This time of year, taking five days off is not going to derail your progress. It really won’t. Unless you have a peak race coming up in the next two months, taking five days off and not doing any training can actually be one of the best things that you can do for yourself. You give yourself a mental and physical break. You may want to be a couch potato for those five days. Fantastic. Get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and have at it. Just don’t make one pint or don’t let one pint turn into six. Allow yourself to relax a little bit.
There is a super hyper-focus, that’s a department of redundancy department, but there is a hyper-focus nowadays on production and pushing and pushing and pushing and then people just break. These are the individuals, we all know at least one, right, or a triathlete that are in fantastic shape, and then we see them the next spring and they put on eight to 12 kilos. They’re really out of shape because they just went down, that pint of Ben & Jerry’s turned into six, and they just weren’t able to get back on the road.
However, if you plan, if you recognize, “Hey, you know what? I’m not doing that great and I’m really having to push myself to get on the trainer,” instead of using up that mental energy, give yourself a three-day break, first and foremost. No training, clean up the diet, still eat relatively healthy, but if you want to have that chocolate truffle along with your latte in the morning, go for it. Treat yourself and allow yourself, allow your body to guide you as to what it needs. Does it need to sleep in in the morning instead of getting up at 5:30 in the morning and jumping on the trainer for an hour-an-a-half, or going out for your ride? Great. Sleep. If you happen to naturally wake up, don’t go, “Oh, well, I’m up, anyhow. I’ll just get it done.” Give yourself the okay, the permission to take that break.
This is the same thing as achieving. If you follow the Human Vortex Training Facebook page, you saw I posted, “You can achieve and accomplish whatever you give yourself permission to do, but you have to go all in.” That applies, and that actual post comes from the planning of this episode here, so as you go through and you’re feeling that burnout right now, embrace it, recognize it as being healthy and okay. Give yourself three days off. Don’t worry about, “Well, what’s my training stress going to do? What’s this going to do to my fitness?” Don’t worry about that because we need to be much more concerned with your ability to be fresh and focused. The more you dig yourself down into a hole at a time that it’s not going to be beneficial to you, such as late winter, the worse off you’re going to be when it really counts, such as spring, when the weather turns.
Now, if you find at the end of those three days, that you’re feeling a little bit better, but not quite there, okay, now, we want to start to look at something like hiking or walking, or maybe even trying ice skating or skiing. You want to try something else to allow yourself to be able to go through and really relax but stay active. This is something that I really, really love doing with my triathletes and I started doing it with some cyclists and that is, let’s put in a nice little hike, two to three hours, and allow you to be able to go out and go through and accomplish some type of use of your fitness. It can also just be something fun, going out for a snowball fight, building a snowman, building a snow fort, depending on where you are and the type of snow you have available, but go out and use your fitness in another way than that which is structured.
This is really, really important that you want to try and find a nice way to continue to stay a little bit active but take away that structure. I like to say up to 10 days is perfectly fine. Three days, completely off. Five days if you really need it and you’ve had a lot of other stresses going on in your life, that’s fine. But then we want to do some type of an activity roughly an hour to two hours in length that’s going to keep you moving. Now, of course, don’t grab your Nordic skis and go out for an hour or hour-and-a-half. That’s not going to be a good idea. You need to make sure that you’re thinking about the big picture of things. But taking the step back and recognizing when you’re down that road to burnout and you’re heading down pretty quickly, you need to be able to put on the brakes and stop and be honest with yourself and others around you.
That’s actually it for today’s episode. That is the message. I know we’re going from an hour episode down to about 15 minutes, but that’s how important it is that you get enough work in at the quality that you need to allow you to maintain where you are or to get the job done, and that’s what we’re going to do here the next couple of weeks and possibly the next couple of months. I know that a lot of you have been really enjoying the weekly podcast episodes that I’ve been putting out, but I know myself well enough at this point and I know that if I continue to push hard, that I’m going to burn myself out and then I’m not going to be any use to myself, my family, or those athletes who are relying on me to deliver them to the starting line or to their goal event in the best possible shape that they can and should be based off of their circumstances.
I’d like to ask you to do the same thing. When you start to feel those things, go ahead and shoot me an email. Let me know how you’re feeling as you go through and what you did to correct it. Make sure that you are liking and subscribing to this podcast, giving us a five-star review to make sure that you are also getting the updates for as we progress. Now, I’m not leaving you without anything to do or anything to learn. We have released on the Human Vortex Training website the Foundations of Strength Training for Cycling program, which is actually worth three USA Cycling CEUs as well as the release of The Vortex Method, my first book on strength training and conditioning for cycling, which will be released here in late February. In the next eight days, essentially, it will be available on Amazon. If you’re on the HV Training newsletter, you are going to get notified when it goes up live, you’ll have a link. Otherwise, you can just go ahead over to Amazon and search for The Vortex Method.
Until next time, train smarter, not harder. Remember to be honest with yourself, recognize when you have too much going on, and be able to pull the plug on the things that aren’t as important and that don’t need your energy and focus. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys here in the next two to three weeks with a archived episode, as well as progressing as we go through the summer, or if you’d like to see me in person, I will be at the Science & Cycling conference. I will do a presentation for the conference as well as a one-day workshop, so make sure you sign for that beforehand because those spots are going to go. Just announced last week, Dr. Lisa Lewis and myself, whom you heard here, are actually doing a co-workshop Columbus Day weekend, October 10th and 11th, 2020 at Core, which is a gym in Boston, Massachusetts, so if you’d like to sign up for that or learn more, you can go ahead and email me, brodie, B as in boy, R-O-D as in dog, I-E at humanvortextraining dot com.
We’ll do the closing again. Until next time, train smarter, not harder, because it is all about you knowing your limits and being able to conserve yourself for the things that are most important in life. Thank you for being here and I’ll see you guys in a couple of weeks.
That’s it for this episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that Subscribe button and give us a review. For more exclusive content, visit humanvortextraining.com, or get the latest expert videos from Coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel at HV Training. Until next time, remember to train smarter, not harder, because it is all about you.