As both an athlete and a coach I have faced the inevitable period in a season or during a training block when everything just seems to fall to pieces. The very best laid plan or the big goal you have been working towards for the past 6 months seems like it is suddenly just not going to happen.

There are so many reasons that this occurs to us as we are not machines that simply churn out the training day after day, week after week. Understanding the tale tell signs that its happening, what is causing or has caused it as well as what to do to get yourself back on track is all part of the longer journey. Nothing beats that sense of achievement that comes with ticking those long-term goals off the bucket list and feeling like you are not going to make it so close to an event can be incredibly disheartening. In this article I will try to outline the reason why sometimes we just want to hang the bike up in the garage and give you some strategies to overcome it and get back on track.

Why do the wheels fall off, what are the signs and how do we get back on track?

  1. WHY #1

Overtraining is one of the biggest single reasons I see for riders throwing the towel in and losing motivation. It is also one of the most common reasons I have riders approach FTP Training to seek help to manage their training and help them hit their targets and goals. The process of overtraining tends to creep up on us over long periods of constant overreaching. Trying to hit new personal best power numbers every ride, trying to beat your mates on every bunchy or going for strava segments at every opportunity are sure fire methods to burn out and over train. Constantly flogging ourselves simply wears us down both physically and mentally.


The common signs of overtraining are varied, but, every one of the signs I am going to list can be associated with it and when several are all occurring at the same time we need to address it.



The first thing to do when you see any of these symptoms is rest, take some time off the bike and spend some time with family or friends. Go and do some other activities or jobs that you neglected to focus on the bike. How long this period needs to be really depends upon how long you have been overreaching for and how deep a hole you have dug for yourself. More often than not 3 or 4 days completely off the bike is enough to feel better and ready to go again. It can however take a lot longer than this and require an extended period of rest. If this occurs not long before the target event your goals may need to be revised, again as I outlined this is determined by how long this has been going on.

  1. WHY #2

Incorrect periodisation of training is another reason that suddenly you feel like you have had enough. Periodising the season is vitally important when aiming for a target event as in my experience most riders have around 5 months of a build towards an event before needing a rest. Too long hammering yourself with VO2 and anaerobic efforts is another sure-fire way to lose your mojo right before the event.


As with overtraining getting the periodization of your training wrong can scupper your chances of reaching your target event due to loss of motivation and lack of desire to ride your bike. The feeling of dread about hitting those high intensity intervals again when all you want to do is just go and ride your bike with your mates.


Look at the structure of your training and the duration of each training phase leading up to your event. The overall structure could follow a classic periodization approach.

  1. WHY #3

Anxiety and lack of confidence is another reason for us to want to just forget it all and go and fishing instead. It’s common for all athletes to go through this as the nagging doubts creep into our heads. Have we done enough, are we fit enough, can we do it and complete the ride, can I compete at this level or will I look a fool and get dropped straight away. These thoughts tend to happen at precisely the wrong time and more often than not this loss of mojo and feelings that you just want to give up occur very close to the event, often a 2 – 3 weeks out. You sit there thinking why is this happening, you have done so much work to get so close.



Don’t panic, go easy on yourself and just accept that this is or can be a part of the process. Just go for a ride and enjoy being out on the bike.

There you have it, some of the most common reasons the wheels can fall off in your journey towards your target event. I hope this helps you not only identify that this is happening to you, but, also to set a strategy to not let it happen again and if it does to not let it stop you being awesome and completing what you set out to achieve.