Progress Not Perfection by Erica Leonard

Would you look at that, it’s already Fall. To me spring and summer went by like days of the week and now we’re here in the midst of school, cyclocross, or for some like me, the off season.
After an incredibly busy summer of working, racing, and visiting friends and family, I found myself mid-August, burnt out and ready for a break! But I’m here to talk about why that’s normal and actually ok! During the school year it’s easy to get caught up, and find yourself missing training due to a midterm or exam or even just by trying to be social. During the summer, when you’re at home working 8-5, it’s a challenge to motivate yourself to NOT go right for the couch after work everyday. What I’m saying is, it’s normal to feel tired and not want to get out there for training some days. But what I’ve learned is that regardless of whether you’re at school or working full time, the key to motivating yourself to get outside and be active is having friends and loved ones that will get out there with you! Being burnt out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a reminder that you need to take care of that V12 engine that you’ve created and to look after yourself.
Now there are different symptoms of being burnt out:
  1. Hating your bike
  2. Not wanting to race
  3. Not feeling the “passion” or “drive”
  4. Impulsive behaviours (for me that’s going for the sweets)
  5. Feeling like you’re not getting the results you want.

And obviously many others. Everyone has their own burn out signs. For me it’s all of those. One or two signs usually to me means that I need to have some fun or find ways to spice up my training. I used to consider myself an introvert, but what I’ve found is that as nice as it is to go out for a 3 hour ride and pop some head phones in, having people to motivate you and hang out with makes your “work” feel like social time! That’s enough to get you out training even when you feel like watching the Office for the 24th time (very clearly calling myself out here).
The tricky part is when all of those burn out signs are piling up and at the end of the day, you just feel like crap. Over the years, I’ve hit this stage a couple times, and for me it’s a sign that I need to take a break. Day after day we challenge ourselves to be better, to perform better, to constantly improve and get to the next level. It’s exhilarating, passion filled, and exhausting! So when you feel burnt out, instead of feeling down on yourself for not feeling the drive, take a week off to reflect on how dedicated you’ve been and how much you have accomplished.
I noticed in August that I was experiencing all of those signs, and a big one for me was not feeling the drive to keep pushing. I decided to start my off season early and focus on hanging out with friends, making some money, and only riding when I felt like it. Ideally, we could all be inspirational models of passion and fire, feeling the NEED to excel all day every day. But in reality, we’re all human and we all need breaks sometimes. Now in October, I’m training again, currently for the Varsity Cross Country Skiing season, but with some base for the cycling season. I wake up motivated and excited to exercise, especially now that I have teammates to keep up with in training! I’m not saying that every day is perfect, but I’m ready take on whatever my athlete life throws at me, with drive and passion! And as always, a little goofiness!
Happy (belated) Thanksgiving everyone!
-Erica Leonard