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