T. Burke Swindlehurst “aka” T-Bird, is a retired professional road and mountain bike racer whose career accomplishments include a record 6 stage wins and 3 overall victories in New Mexico’s mountainous Tour of the Gila as well as podium placings in both US Professional Road and Marathon MTB championships.

Now days he puts his energy into promoting his on/off-road event in Utah, the Crusher in the Tushar and chasing KOM’s on Strava. He’s been an avid First Endurance user since day one.

So, the season has begun in earnest and by now you may already have a few races under your belt. Your diligence in the offseason is paying dividends and you’ve racked up some podiums and PR’s. You’re feeling strong and motivated.

Life is good.
So now what?

What’s that? You say the sky’s the limit?

Easy there, tiger! As much as you might be tempted to twist the ol’ throttle back ever more, we must not forget that just like machines made of steel, we of sinew must take care to occasionally check-in on the condition of our condition; luckily, as with most machines, your body has some early-warning systems built-in to help you avoid the calamity of a complete roadside breakdown. Now, they might not be as in-your-face as the flashing red light and ear-splitting buzzer emanating from the dashboard of your Volkswagen, but if you know what to look for and exercise the same sort of discipline toward rest and recovery that you devote to your intervals and diet, well you just might avoid that rocky road of heartbreak that is illness and injury.

So, here are a few of my own “tell-tale” signals that I’ve picked-up over the years which I found are a pretty good indicators that I just might be crossing that thin line from overreaching to overtraining….

  • Scratchy throat in the morning
  • Mouth sores such as cankers, cold sores, etc.
  • Elevated morning pulse
  • Inability to reach normal or peak heart rate during an interval or tempo session
  • Muscle soreness or stiffness that doesn’t diminish with normal recovery or rest routines
  • General malaise and discontent
  • Being accused of having pulled-on your “grumpy pants”
  • Uncontrollable weeping when hearing a Nickelback song

Some of these might sound pretty familiar, but you probably have a few of your own, personal “tell-tale” signs as well.  Make note of them. Burn them into your brain.

Now, call it a hunch, but if you’re reading this article, I suspect chances are pretty good that you’re one of those “Type A” personalities. You know the sort. Those whose little voices in their head say something like “Ah, so our throat’s a little scratchy this morning…we probably just slept with our mouth open… ain’t no thang”…. as they pedal off into the sunrise in their 53×11’s.

And it’s true. Sometimes it is just as simple as that.

Of course, there’s the flip side of the equation when you have ignored that little voice and subsequently wake up the following morning with a full-blown sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you HAVE TO REST medicine kind of day.

So, how does one avoid such calamity?

Well, are you familiar with the expression “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

Turns out it can also make the legs grow stronger.
Case in point: Ever notice how when you’re actually forced to take a break from your regular rigorous training routine for something other than an injury or illness, say a work trip or the like, that when you return to training that you’re noticeably stronger despite having not “trained” in a few days? Wha?!!! How’d that happen? You’d been a lazy, no good slob for 3. Whole. Days. How does that work?! Well, you see, it’s called rest and it’s the single greatest performance enhancement tool you can get your hands on and it’s available to you for the bargain basement price of…..wait for it… waiiiiiit for ittttttt…..

FREE.

I know, I know. Sounds too good to be true, right?

So how does one administer this mythical and magical elixir?

It’s pretty simple:

If you find yourself noticing any of your own “tell-tale” signals as we discussed above, instead of listening to that little voice in your head that says you have to train, simply ignore that voice and do something else. And make it something relaxing. I know some of you might find this inconceivable, so I’ll help draw a little mental picture of what this might this look like.

As an example, instead of going out and doing an “easy” spin on a scheduled rest or recovery day, leave the bike in the garage altogether and take ol’ Fido out for a nice long walk. Let him smell every flower. Heck, you might even stop and smell some flowers yourself.

No pup? No problem. Take a leisurely stroll in the woods with your family or friends.

Do some gardening.

Better yet, you could even plop right down on that Lazy Boy of yours and read a book.

That’s right. Do absolutely nada.

Try it.

You’ll be amazed at what taking a little time away from training can do not only for your performance, but also for your overall well-being. Better yet, plan a specific mid-season break and cut yourself loose from training for a whole week and do some of those things you’ve always want to do but don’t because you previously felt chained to your training.
Trust me on this.

Do it.

You’ll be glad you did and don’t be surprised when you find yourself still eager to train and race deep into the season while your competitors start to crumble like expired stroopwafels.

Welp, I hope you’ve enjoyed this, the final piece of our three-part series on how to have your best season ever. Enjoy those KOM’s and PR’s and don’t forget to smell your podium flowers while you’re at it.

Keep on keepin’

-Burke

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