I haven't exactly kept it a secret that I've been a bit tired and down over the last month, but now that I'm through the worst of that slump, I'm starting to see all the signs of fatigue that I was ignoring. While I journal and write quite frequently, it's been a while (over a month, actually) since I've shared any of these thoughts with the internet community... that in itself is a big sign for me. I find I post less and have less interest in sharing my ideas when I'm fatigued. I have trouble sleeping, find myself agitated, and generally just feel dull. It's funny how hard it is to identify these symptoms when you're experiencing them, though; it's almost as if I can't see the fog until the fog has dissipated. Then, all of a sudden, I have a lot more clarity.
I hit a pretty big low at Lenzerheide, but somehow that was only a false bottom, and I dropped even lower in the first few days of last week. Right after Lenzerheide, I wrote the below post with the intent of sharing it, but then I started to feel worse+worse, and I just couldn't summon the energy to share it. Plus, it didn't feel authentic... I was so down/tired that it felt falsely positive. But several days of rest and family/friend time have helped me climb out of that hole, and somehow I've found myself back in a good spot. I had a ton of fun racing the Canada Cup out east here in Nova Scotia (and, to be honest, that's probably the first time I've had fun racing my bike since May) and I've been feeling a lot more optimistic about, and present in, life over the last few days. The words I wrote below feel true again, and I thought maybe they would strike a chord with one or two of you, so here they are:
Heading into the Lenzerheide World Cup weekend, I was in a bit of a rough spot. I was finding it hard to find joy in anything and was just really… uninspired. Low motivation. Blah. These feelings resurface for me from time-to-time, and they’re almost exclusively related to fatigue, but it’s really hard to recognize the signs until the descent has reached its ultimate destination: apathy.
It sounds melodramatic, and maybe it is, but these are waves that I’ve been experiencing for a while. I’ve learned their habits and characteristics, and I know that these feelings of indifference and lethargy are a sign of system fatigue. The most effective way of lifting myself out of this hole is to just rest. Take a break. Let my system recover. Without fail, a break allows my motivation, energy, skill, and fitness to rebound.
However, I had a World Cup to race, and I knew deep down that I didn’t want to sit that round out. I wanted to try, with whatever faculties I had available to me, to get to the finish line and challenge myself to complete the task despite how I was feeling. So, to that end, I asked the internet a question: “What makes you happy?”
I received a lot of very touching responses. There were a few common themes, and reflecting on these helped me get to the start line on Sunday:
This list makes it pretty clear that it’s the small, everyday things that bring us joy. It also made me realize that I had, unintentionally, almost completely deleted these things from my life. Nearly everything I do has a specific purpose and a directly-identifiable impact on the pursuit of my goals, and I sometimes forget to include the less tangible elements of the success equation: relaxation, fun, and relationships. I’ve learned this lesson a few times over, but last weekend, I yet again found myself in that same spot… laying on the floor and shedding a few tears. Hopefully, this is the time that the lesson will stick.
Anyways, back to the race. I used those responses to help me prepare for the race on Sunday. I knew I was tired, and not at my best, but I also knew that if I focused on fun rather than performance, I would be able to put together a pretty good ride. Fortunately, I had a great start, somehow moving from fourth row to top 15 virtually right away. Unfortunately, I flatted about 7 or 8 minutes into the race and had a pretty long journey to the tech zone. By the time I got going again, I was in dead last and 3.5 minutes down on the leaders. However, because my goals for the day were to just have fun, enjoy the trails, and be nice to myself, my job hadn’t changed. I managed to play to the strengths I had available on the day, and rode through the field to finish 34th. I think I beat my own personal passing record, with 32 passes that stuck til the end. It was a pretty important day for me, because I showed myself that I can stay afloat even when my raft has a few holes in it and I’m stuck downstream with only one paddle.
So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for helping me find some energy. That was a pivotal ride for me, and you all had a part in it :)