Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Burnout Cycle

I would say it takes about 10 years to become truly proficient at something. It starts with a learning process starting from immersion to mastery and proficiency, with the threat of burnout always looming. Below is the Burnout Cycle, which I have experienced in various sports. I would say my burnout cycle is about five years, which is more like a bell curve with a peak period where my best performance can’t be  surpassed hence lack of motivation and diminished returns. Maybe you get re-motivated when you are placed into a new age group, category or do something different.

Soccer (duration 4 years)
Start 1980
My peak 1982
End 1984

Road Cycling  (duration 5 years)
Start 1986
My peak 1988
End 1991

Cricket (duration 6 years)
Start 1992
My peak 1996
End 1998

Track Cycling (duration 5 years)
Start 2006
My peak 2009
End 2011

Master Track Cyclist and School Teacher Larry DeSario’s thoughts on the Burnout Cycle:

I think it's human nature to get burned out on just about anything. For example, a person's occupation, relationships or sport can end depending on certain circumstances.  There also has to be a number of variables that can influence whether someone can grow tired of a particular endeavor.  From my own study in the area it's necessary to set realistic and plausible goals.  Goals that are too easy or too difficult can prematurely end one's desire to continue participation.

I quit the bicycle game for five years starting in 1973.  I was burned out and I took up tennis.  I played varsity tennis and some local tournaments, but it wasn't anything big. I grew tired of it and ended up running competitively.  I really enjoyed the running even though I was a middle of the pack finisher, but the number of injuries that occurred (shin splints, stress fractures) turned me off.  In 1978, I returned to cycling.  I've had my ups and downs but I have managed to stay motivated.  I really enjoy the riding but I have to say that the season is structured to peak at a certain time and I cycle the training to avoid burnout.  The period from May to August is the most arduous.  By the time I reach the end of the competitive phase I'm relieved to scale down the intensity and just go for easy rides.

The month of May and beginning of June is the most challenging for me.  It's the last month of school and both the teachers and students are exhausted.  At the same time I have to step it up with the workouts.  No longer can I just settle for sitting in on group rides.  Now, I need to make some numbers happen on the stop watch and I must say it can be a miserable time indeed.   We'll see how it goes this year.  However, accomplishment of the goals is so very satisfying.  To persevere is where the motivation comes from.

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