Friday, December 4, 2009


mo·rale n.
1. The state of the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks.
2. The degree of mental or moral confidence of a person or group; spirit of optimism

Morale is something that can be critical to your success as you train for an event or race. In my years of road bike racing and later mountain bike racing I had good days and I’ve had miserable days where I couldn’t wait for the race to end. During my last serious year of racing in 2005 I remember losing a targeted race for the first time. I was racing at the North Star Ski Resort near Truckee and was beaten in the final miles by a local who I had a comfortable lead on throughout most of the race. That race fueled some of the strongest and most intense training I have ever done. You would think that losing a race I was leading until the end would destroy my morale, but it did just the opposite.

Today I’m 16 weeks out from Ironman California 70.3 and my morale is at a low point. Part of it has to do with the time of year. The days are shorter and the weather is colder and I’ve been eating desserts. I have not been in a pool or ocean in weeks although I have been running and riding. I’m finding training for triathlons is different than training for a bike race. In triathlons you’re racing against a clock more so than an individual. I’m also beginning to understand the mental toughness and discipline it takes to be a triathlete as you will your body to train and improve in three different disciplines.

In the military the slang for morale events is “mandatory fun”. Starting Monday, my goal is to start having “mandatory fun” as I shake this lethargy and begin another week of training.