When the passion dies... (advice requested)

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When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby Seitanist » Tue May 24, 2011 4:54 pm

Struggling with the desire to race competitively and thought I would seek input from some of you:

A little background - I started riding road about 4 years ago, raced as a Cat 4/5 in 2009, upgraded at the end of the year and had a mediocre season last year as a 3. This year has been the same, no good results and nothing spectacular happening in races. My training is pretty solid - I use an SRM, have a coach, use training peaks, and loosely follow a periodization plan (Friel) - I eat pretty well (vegan, of course) and have enough time to train. Family and friends are supportive and my gear is good. All of those boxes can be checked.

The issue is mindset, drive, passion, whatever you want to call it. Riding generally comes easy - I enjoy getting on the bike, but racing seems to cause anxiety, stress, and isn't motivating like it used to be. My first season was much more extraordinary in that sense where I greatly anticipated races, raced hard, and often placed in the top ten (as a 4, however). Many times during last year and during this season, the motivation to actually race: both the effort of getting there, spending the money, and the actual effort of racing (i.e. prolonged anaerobic activity) just isn't as pervasive. I am tempted to call it "burn out" but that seems to generalize it too much. Sometimes I feel as if it's not "important" to race, though the amount of time I put into training (riding, eat, planning, traveling) all points to racing being supremely important.

Most say I'm a "strong rider" and my numbers are good, yet my desire to "go hard" arises more during our weekly training rides (where all the racers come out and go quite hard) than during a race I've driven two hours and paid money to be in. I know there are a lot of factors that go into one's performance in a race, but I tend to think my limiter is in my head at this point. The feeling is hard to quantify, but seems to revolve somewhere around apathy, dread, or just simple disinterest. This contrasts with my desire to be fit, have camaraderie, and ride hard - three things which I do genuinely enjoy, at the right time.

Have any of you experienced periods like this, or can you relate to these feelings? What did you do to overcome, or does a chronic disinterest signal the time for a serious change?
The devils of past religions have always, at least in part, had animal characteristics, evidence of man's constant need to deny that he too is an animal, for to do so would serve a mighty blow to his impoverished ego. -Anton LaVey
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Re: When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby xrodolfox » Tue May 24, 2011 4:56 pm

I had that same lack of passion for racing 10 years ago.

I used to love competing. I'd win, and I'd get accolades. I'd loose, and do my best to get better. I'd improve, and I would relish in that gain. I took looses easily. But after years and years, the passion to compete waned.

I stopped competing, and a year later, I'd really stopped training and instead did occasional fitness sports. I went back to sports slowly. I tried sports that I was worst at first. I didn't want to compete in swimming again, since I didn't want to compare myself to what I used to be able to do.

It took a while to get back into swimming, and then competing. However, about five years ago, I really found out why I needed to compete. I found my drive.

When I used to compete, other people defined my success. Coaches and teammates would congratulate me when I'd win (or do a great time), regardless of whether I tried my best. Coaches and teammates would reflect disappointment when I'd loose (or when I'd have a terrible result) regardless of whether I did my best or conquered fear. My racing was defined by others.

What I discovered is that every time I race, i get nervous. I stand on the edge of the starting line afraid of that next step; as if every time before the gun goes off I'm at the edge of a cliff. Once I'm off, I carry that fear with me. Sometimes, it stops me. I consider quitting or going it easy when I'm down. I make excuses on why I shouldn't do my best. I talk myself out of fearlessly going all out. I'm at that cliff every step on my way to the finish.

I discovered that I feel awesome about a race not if I won, or did a PB, but if I face my fear, confronted it, and did my best every step of the way. I feel great if I really couldn't have done better, regardless of my finish, and regardless of any excuses. The medals, trophies, and accolades get in the way. The don't tell any part of the story. They take away from the real goal: conquering fear; stepping towards the edge and jumping all the way.

Once I found out that I needed to race to beat my own demons, to conquer my own fear, I began really racing again. I didn't just race for competition. I didn't race for fun or glory. I now race because I need to race. I need to defeat my fear. I need to push myself.

Just about every-time I race, I now give it my all. I don't mask my defeats with excuses. I don't measure myself by my place or time. I measure myself by this one question: Did I battle my fears with all I have?

I'm not sure if I'm racing better or worse now than before. But I know that right now, I love racing unlike ever before. More than when I used to set records. More than when I used to get PB's every other race. More than when I got lots of medals and people cheering my name. I race now not for the victory, but for the race itself.

That's what got me back on track. I hope it helps you.
"The worker has the right to leave his boss, but can she do it? And if she does quit him, is it in order to lead a free life; where she will have no master but herself? No, she leaves to sell herself to another employer. She's driven by the same hunger. Thus the worker's liberty is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means of realization; an utter falsehood."
-Bakunin
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Re: When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby Mr. Cleetus » Tue May 24, 2011 9:58 pm

I have had very similar experiences with road racing. I did my first bike race more than 25 years now and I periodically have to take time off, particularly from road racing - I just get burnt out on it and the scene around it and don't enjoy it any more. I am currently in a rather extended break from it (road racing). Like you I get to a point where the bunch hammer rides are a lot more fun than racing and the thought of going to a race holds no interest.

When I get like this, I do not take (much) time off from the bike, I just mix things up a bit and make sure to remind myself it really is all about having fun in the end; I pick a different kind of race which is maybe outside of my comfort zone; get rid of the powertap/computer/watch and just ride for fun; thrash myself beyond what is intelligent, or just ride easy every time - just do what I feel like and not what is going to get optimal physical results. I also do quite a bit of other racing, especially tris, but right now I am mostly focussed on the mtb and my desire to road race is just not there - I am sure it will come back! I just have to go back to what made it fun in the first place.
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Re: When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby picaresque » Thu May 26, 2011 2:52 am

stop racing for a bit. keep doing those bunch rides, and keep trying to tear the legs off your friends.

then only race when those friends are racing. race with them. race as a team. it'll be way more fun, trust me.
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Re: When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby Seitanist » Tue May 31, 2011 4:41 am

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. Some good things to think about! I really appreciate it.
The devils of past religions have always, at least in part, had animal characteristics, evidence of man's constant need to deny that he too is an animal, for to do so would serve a mighty blow to his impoverished ego. -Anton LaVey
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Re: When the passion dies... (advice requested)

Postby ha » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:57 pm

Im a big fan of getting enough sleep, water and carbs so you can live the lifestyle you want. Racing is pretty hard on the body and doing a course of b12 injections is what 100% of pro riders I know do every year and NONE of them have been vegan. If you want to get even faster, get to bed by 8-9pm and chow down 10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight per day. Start the day with a liter of water before breakfast and drink enough so your pizz'n clear at least 10 times a day and a few times a night. Use an old juice bottle at night so you dont have to get up if you dont want.

So if you've done all the right things and still not interested in official racing then DONT! lol!

Bunch rides can be just as hard cos there is less saving your legs for prize money. In training you can do stupid attacks and then get dropped and catch back on or cut the course or whatever it takes to meet your training goal. Or you can ride off the front for 4 hours and get dropped on the final climb but it doesnt matter cos you didnt spend $ on getting there etc.

I do a lot of international travel so racing isnt always an option BUT I running races and bunch rides whenever possible and Im always wearing my team kit to do a bit of subliminal advertising. ;)

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y - youtube.com/durianriders
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Drink up, carb up, sleep up... cos everyday is the day to live it up!
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