Author Topic: Mental depletion article for Arrivee  (Read 3319 times)

Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« on: October 01, 2019, 02:36:32 pm »
Firstly I am not a sports psychologist but have often wondered how riders cope with the mental side of things.  If you have ridden a long event (or even a shorter one) and especially in tough conditions, you probably got to a point when, mentally, you have had enough and was glad to get to the end, but what if you had entered another long one the following week or even two weeks later.  Were you DNF? How did you cope mentally?

What I am really trying to find out is how people cope with riding long distances on a regular basis. If there are sufficient and interesting replies, I will try and colate the information and write an article for a future edition of Arrivee.

I am sure that many of those that rode PBP might be inclined to take a long rest afterwards and that their enthusiasm would be rather low having set out (and achieved) their goal of the year/lifetime! or am I completely wrong in this assumption?

marcusjb

  • Full of bon courage.
    • Occasional wittering
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 06:46:44 pm »
I have found the first very tough event makes the second one shortly after much, much easier ("I got through that, I can get through this").

Best example I can give is finishing a very hard DIY from London to Montpellier to London during some of the worst flooding France had seen in many years - it was very mentally demanding, changed everything in my perspective.  Hardest ride I ever did.

Few weeks later - Mille Pennines - 1000km of hard riding in some really shitty weather.  Had quite a high DNF rate.  But whilst I did find it very hard, it was not as mentally demanding as being 1500m up on Mont Aigoual during an enormous storm (probably the most reckless thing I've ever done on a bike).  So I got on with it.

Recalibrating what is possible, in the most trying circumstances, makes everything in life seem much easier.
Right! What's next?

Ooooh. That sounds like a daft idea.  I am in!

halhorner

  • Cycling Weakly
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2019, 08:23:42 pm »
I find that I've had enough and am glad to get to the end at about 90% into a ride, whether it's 40km or 400.

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019, 09:40:36 pm »
Best example I can give is finishing a very hard DIY from London to Montpellier to London during some of the worst flooding France had seen in many years - it was very mentally demanding, changed everything in my perspective.  Hardest ride I ever did.

Thought you were more of a self-publicist Marcus :-)
You won't be forgetting that one in a hurry. Rock 'ard.
http://www.marcusjb.com/blog//finding-where-the-edges-are

What I am really trying to find out is how people cope with riding long distances on a regular basis.

Some riders are super hard core - long ride after long ride, while still holding it all together mentally.

I'm not in that camp. For me, I have to build myself up to the challenge before I ride. That's the key essential ingredient that has to be in place before I start - knowing I'm going to be out there for xyz km. I've made the decision and that's the deal. That helps me cope with whatever might come up in the process. And the finish is non-negotiable. That's the very welcome come-down after the preparation. Regardless of what the distance is - if somebody were to come up to me at the end of a ride and say, 'right, you've got to do another 100km now'. That kind of mental tampering could easily insinuate heads being bitten off in my book!!
Garry Broad

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2019, 10:00:56 pm »
It depends how invested I am in finishing each event.

For instance, 200s aren’t important to me most of the time, so I’ll often DNS if the weather is looking biblical or I am feeling off-colour. If I’ve planned a 1000(+)km or a series of them, then it’ll usually have to be pretty serious for me to ditch any of them. Some rides only come round every four years or are one-offs, so not finishing can have a big cost. I typically finish 15-20 audax and randonneur brevets a year but I've not done more than 3 x 1000(+) brevets in a season. A proper big-mileage type may look at things differently.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2019, 12:00:07 am »
I did 2x 300s and 2x 400s in a 6 week period earlier this year, as below:

week 1 - 300
week 2 - 300
week 3 - rest
week 4 - 400
week 5 - rest
week 6 - 400

They were all rides I'd never done and I was excited about doing them all and managed to get round all of them in the time limits. I had entered 200s for the 2 weekends that ended up being rest but neither excited me enough to get out of bed on those Saturdays.

After the last 400 I didn't do anything over 100km for 5 weeks, I just needed a breather from it and without Audax rides to enter that looked exciting I couldn't motivate myself to do anything too challenging.

I guess it's similar to LWaB except I'm not riding quite as far, yet

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2019, 02:01:19 am »
I'm not a sports psych, but Motivational General-Mastery Imagery is a common intervention sports psychs seem to use for resilience. It seems focus on what success looks like and visualising the successful performance of the goal directed behaviour. From https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02701367.2001.10608975?needAccess=true

"To be realistic and create imagery situations that "challenged" the performer, the imagery scripts also contained
advanced technical detail. Two national coaches helped
to provide this detail for the scripts. An example of a section from one imagery script is given below:
In the first few minutes of the first game you
find your opponent hard to stretch... Pause.
Imagine yourself staying focused during
any challenging situation... Pause. You begin to realize that your player has difficulty
doing straight smashes instead they play
them cross court. .. Pause. Imagine yourself
taking advantage of the cross court shot. ..
Pause. Imagine what your return shot would
be ... Pause. Imagine yourself being in control of the situation"

I know my audax equivalent feels more like coping planning - visualising myself riding up the brutal hills, slogging it out in grim wet weather on boring a-roads, imagining how shit I'll feel if I DNF.

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2019, 07:24:49 am »
At the finish I was glad that I'd not fallen off the bike during a micro-sleep, or been taken out by an inattentive driver. On a general level I was then relieved when the event went off without incident.

For PBP it was important to put the miles in, so that there would be enough in reserve to avoid 'the dozies'. That boiled down to putting in a good enough performance at the 24 to predict enough rest time. I'd view it as irresponsible not to put the training in, and that means doing a long ride fairly close to the main event. I'd tend to view that as one of the failings of the PBP qualification process, as the final qualifier is a couple of months before PBP itself, and high temperatures in many areas preclude long rides in July and August.

But residual risk remains no matter how well-trained you are, hence the sense of relief at completion.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2019, 08:01:31 am »
I find that I've had enough and am glad to get to the end at about 90% into a ride, whether it's 40km or 400.
It just goes to show how different we all are.
Admittedly it's a long while since I did any long distance riding, but I've always found the first 10% the hardest, with a serious dip on very long rides at about 2/3 the way through.
The last 10% for me - with the end in sight - has always (maybe I'm exaggerating a little) been the most fulfilling.

Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk

Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2019, 08:31:58 am »
I've barely completed an audax since 2016. Mostly I just don't care enough to keep going when it gets tough, I have to be exceedingly motivated- and even then...


The other thing is, I've stopped feeling all that shit when I DNF. I've got (almost) all the boy scout badges. What is, in fact, the point of the points?

As Mr Smith & I both have found out- we just don't hate ourselves enough any more.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2019, 08:42:07 am »
I’m just sorry I ‘broke’ your knee in Italy, boab. I should have done more prep for a tough ride and spent less time following the GPS track over gravel.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2019, 08:58:17 am »
Ah, I don't blame you for that, I'd be up for more tandem adventures. Lots of it was lots of fun.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2019, 09:06:17 am »
Good stuff. Let me know if you two want an understudy in the future.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2019, 09:20:22 am »
It's interesting in that, since I have been beating myself up in completely different ways the last few years, I have found audax to be some of my most enjoyable riding.

I am a planner by nature and tend to set off with a decent idea of where I am going to be and when, but also understanding that I may be ahead or behind of plan at any time.   There is still the point that problems you can readily deal with on day 1 may produce a meltdown on day 3/4 - mechanical/not finding food/not being able to find the control.   

At the finish of an event I tend to feel satisfaction in a job well done rather than any massive wave of emotion, although I was a little weepy at the end of PBP this year as I had well exceeded my personal expectations. 

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2019, 11:04:33 am »
It's a good topic and one I have thought about a lot.

A good few years ago I realised my mind was much weaker than my body - I would cave much sooner than I needed. This also applies to many things in my life not just riding ;-)

So.... for Audax at least I set about fixing it. I wanted the rides enough to put in (just enough) time to do the things you need to do. Some of those were physical, yes, but more about the pushing myself than the improvements to the body (intervals do both) and some of those were about rehearsing mental techniques and strategys that are known to work (pretty much as above). There are a couple of sections in my latest blog on PBP about this process and some of the tricks I used (search for Training section and No Alarms and No Surprises) https://audaxery.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/pbp-2019-ride-report/

Factors: Normalisation - seeing 600 as 'normal' for instance which occurs through meeting stretch targets. Modelling which helps you get to stretch targets. Experience - the tailwind of having done something a lot of times, which builds a base for normalisation. And of course, physical talent and preparation!
 

I think that my conscious decision to improve this part of my riding is something that most people just get to by doing a lot of rides... I needed to bootstrap myself somewhat.

Finally this is a piece of advice on modelling that a mate of mine gave me - straight to the point:

Remember, this is how you can create change:
1) Choose and visualise in detail the outcome you want
2) How would someone capable of making that change think, feel and behave? Write it down and then deliberately and consistently think, feel and behave in a way that aligns with the outcome you want.



bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2019, 11:16:22 am »
A big factor for me in audax has been barriers to exit. On the rides I've been most strongly tempted to abandon, there hasn't been anywhere to go. Particularly in rural Belgium at 2am. after that experience I've found I've been able to grind through a lot more than I might have otherwise. In Belgium I was 100% ready to abandon in the small morning hours but there was literally nowhere to go. Once the sun was up, and the shops were open and I'd had a 90 minute snooze on a picnic table things were much better.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD


Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2019, 12:34:33 pm »
A big factor for me in audax has been barriers to exit. On the rides I've been most strongly tempted to abandon, there hasn't been anywhere to go.

Interesting point. If I think about the (relatively few) times I have abandoned rides, with one exception I have not had to return to the start and so have been able to find a train station and get myself home. If I've left the car at the start then there's a much greater incentive to carry on because it would be just as much trouble to retrace the route. 
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2019, 12:37:29 pm »
And in my case, the ride that I did abandon was because there was a warm express train service back to London with some helpful station cafe people who made me a big warm hot chocolate with the squirty cream.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD


Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2019, 01:06:30 pm »
I'll start by saying I don't ride long distances on a regular basis.

Since 2013 my audax riding consists of a single SR series, plus one ride of 1000km or over in the summer.  I have completed a couple of RRTYs but I tend to do them, then take a break, and come back to them when I feel my fitness has slipped. I'm due to come back to RRTY in November. As soon as it feels like a treadmill I'll generally stop. In the early years completing every ride used to be important to me.  That is no longer the case, and I've never been that bothered about points chasing or awards beyond SR.    I'd like to complete 10 SR's, with the tally at 6 at present.  So that kind of leads me up to another PBP in 2023 and we'll see from there.

My DNF tally is highly correlated with whether I'm dehydrated enough or have stomach issues causing me to vomit or have a serious case of the trots.  I also have one case of Shermers Neck on the Wild Atlantic Way Audax starting at 1850km.  I was worried mentally about a repeat of that when I next started doing long events, but three SR series and a 1000km event later, and I'm more relaxed. I still worry about a repeat next year on WAWA 2020, but I have a cunning plan for that.

LEL in 2013 I had that post event dip in long distance cycling motivation.  It took three weeks before I went back on a 200km audax after I discovered RRTY.  I haven't really experienced that dip since, though physical ailments such as damaged nerves in the hands or Shermers have kept me off the bike a few weeks in some cases.

I do not like the PBP qualification process.  I'm actually better at finishing events when there are no knock on impacts of not finishing. My decision making is better when the decisions are purely based on that event, there and then.

Once I've had a DNF I tend to overcompensate for whatever caused the failure.  So I'll plan and execute in detail measures designed to prevent a repeat.  So going out and doing a long event soon after a DNF; I can often put in some of my best riding and times. I'm much better at recognising early symptoms these days, but still have occasional brain farts where I don't do anything about it, it will lead to a DNF if left unchecked.

I don't really suffer that last 10km of an event I wish I was finished stuff, as I usually don't have any distance showing on my GPS though you clearly have a rough idea if riding in areas you've been before.
 

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2019, 01:09:37 pm »
i generally enjoy riding my bike, so never struggled with motivation once i'm on a ride. i haven't dnf'ed an audax yet in my ten years of riding (and long may this continue). i have a reasonable number of long rides (audaxes) per year, which for me is around ten, then plenty of shorter ones (say 70-130km) which are not so time consuming.
it's natural and normal to be depleted after mega rides such like pbp, but once the body recovers it's all good again.

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2019, 07:49:07 pm »
I haven't been riding audax long (about 12 months) and its been a steep learning curve, particularly the mental side. I am only partially of the way up the curve (or rather, I think I still have lots to learn!) but some of the issues I have faced are:

1) Pacing, lack of discipline = mental depletion
2) Unrealistic expectations that then unwind mind-ride
3) Thinking that the overall objective is "enough". By which I mean that although I really want to complete a 600km, once I am tired at 150km and I have 450km painful/cold/wet kilos to go, the imagined satisfaction of a finish isn't enough and I sink into "why the xxxx am I doing this?"

As per already stated, my answers aren't perfect, and mostly they are based on friendly advice I have been given:
a) I have got better at pacing by riding my own ride, and letting go of faster groups. Strava helps.
b) I am trying to learn a bit from my old job, and have upside and downside plans.
c) The advice from guys who are well ahead of me is to try to ride in the moment, enjoy (or at least be at peace with) what you are doing. There are different ways of saying this, I think (and I'm just learning) but it boils down to this: How good/bad do you really feel? Can you ride another 10 minutes? Keep turning the pedals, and you eventually crest the (mental) hill.

We have all chosen to ride our bikes - there is little sense in thinking "I'd rather be sitting in front of the telly" because when we were rational(~ish), we chose to enter the event instead of sitting in front of the telly.

Finally, there are times when we can all predict when we will feel miserable. For me, its rain and the long-term affect of pedalling too hard. For others, maybe its a certain number of kilos done, or kilos to go. Have a plan for this too - take a little pack of Haribo or a Crunchie for just such an occasion, and smile inwardly as your rational, thinking self kicks your inner chimp in the danglies!

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2019, 12:19:30 am »
Riding long distances regularly increases fitness and this makes the rides easier, quicker and hence less likely to cause mental depletion. The majority of my rides are 200km and I rarely have any mental issues dealing with them except in extreme weather conditions including ice, snow, wind, rain, heat etc. RRTY sometimes causes me stress as I’m trying to keep three going at the same time and often struggle to find the time as I work full time and have a family. Dodging bad weather can become impossible, especially in winter, forcing me out in risky conditions such as in December 2017 when I came off on black ice on two of my 200s, landing heavily on my right side both times. I know that no one is making me do three a month, but it’s just a challenge I set myself and it keeps me reasonably fit without doing any other cycling or training of any kind.
Stepping up to 300km and above in the early spring can be a physical and mental challenge as for me these will be calendar events on a particular day regardless of weather and the extra distance is challenge enough on it’s own. I very rarely DNF though and have usually recovered by the following weekend for my next ride.
In late spring and summer 400km and 600km rides bring sleep deprivation into the mix and this is where mental depletion can build up if you do too many of them in a short time like I did this year. I dealt with it by using up some carry over leave that I had built up to take several Fridays and Mondays off to help me prepare and recover. In many previous years I haven’t been so sensible.
I usually ride within my limits but sometimes push them hard. For example on the 2017 LEL when I wasn’t particularly fit but went as fast as I could with the fitness I had in difficult conditions and with minimal sleep to achieve my personal target time. I just succeeded but was severely mentally depleted afterwards; so much so that I had to postpone plans to go to the Dolomites for a super randonnee until 2018. It was a major effort to ride the DIY 400km that I needed in September for my SR that year but it ended up being great fun, riding to the tip of Spurn Head and back in a day.
I rode myself into the ground on the latest PBP leaving me very fatigued, but my family came out to join me for a relaxing week in a wood cabin at Huttopia, Rambouillet after the ride so I soon recovered.


Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2019, 08:36:41 am »
Generally the first half of a ride is all fun, but going into the second half or last third I move into just wanting to finish mode, until the last 10% when the end is on sight.

After completing my big goal ride for the year my motivation to ride just disappears and I find it hard to go out, even though once I'm riding it still feels great. Rrty helps with this but even then it can end up bring one 200 a month with nothing else over 50km.

Adversity on rides has really helped subsequent tides, I had a lot of really windy brevet this year, so when pbp headwinds came it was nothing new and much easier to push on through.
   Eddington  87 miles

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2019, 10:40:03 pm »
With vasculitis a serious illness

Last 2 weeks

Weekend 1 - 2 x 200km
Weekend 2 - Texas Hound Dog 1200
Weekend 3 - 2 x 200km

Also completed PBP

Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2019, 12:02:27 am »
With vasculitis a serious illness

Last 2 weeks

Weekend 1 - 2 x 200km
Weekend 2 - Texas Hound Dog 1200
Weekend 3 - 2 x 200km

Also completed PBP

Well done HK! That would have been a tough enough schedule for anyone who was 100% fit.

Hopefully you’ll take a well earned rest now and give yourself chance to recover, but I’ve a feeling that you won’t rest for long enough.

Take care of yourself and I hope that you get better soon.