The “A” race is in the books. It went great! You feel like a champion...for about a week. Or the “A” race did not go as planned or hoped for. The weather was bad. There was a mechanical on the bike. The swim was canceled. You say, no problem, lessons learned. Now to rededicate yourself for the next “A” race. You are totally committed...for about a week.
Then the malaise starts to creep in. The recovery workouts designed to get you back on track become harder and harder to get up for. All the tasks that were set aside and left unattended during your peak training weeks loom larger than ever, and accomplishing them seems so much more important than tomorrow's swim.
Training loads look just like that: a load. Workouts start to look like burdens. Training begins to erode and and you feel like you are on a mental roller coaster. The thing is this: there is a reason you feel that way. You feel that way because you are on a mental roller coaster. While your body may be physically fit, you are mentally fatigued, and simply trying to push through that mental fatigue will only make things worse.
The first step to break out of this cycle of malaise is to accept it as a reality. Then and only then can you do something about it. Once you accept that the root cause is mental fatigue, you will be able to work through it and return to vigorous training.
After you recognize the mental fatigue, you can follow some or all of the following steps:
First, if you have a coach, talk to your coach. If you don't have a coach you should seriously consider the benefits of having one.
Second, switch it up. Try another activity, such as hiking or rowing. Go for a bike ride around your neighborhood just for the fun of biking without the pressure of performance.
And that brings up the third thing you can do: Focus on consistency more than performance. Just start taking smaller bites of training until you can mentally digest longer workouts.
Fourth, go short and focus on technique and set aside longer workouts that consume so much time and loom so much larger on already packed schedules.
Fifth, stop obsessing. Trust that you will get back into a normal cycle of training when your body and your mind have recovered.
Finally, forgive yourself for feeling the way you do...it's o.k. Beating yourself up will only exacerbate the pressure you are feeling to not feel like you do. The malaise will pass if you call it by name, put it in perspective, and move forward one step and one day at a time.