In general an elite athlete is described as “a professional” or a “world class performer” in a particular sport. We all have athletes that we look up to in awe and wonder how they’re so good. We justify it with things like “they have God given talent”, or “they’re lucky to have gotten into that sport early.” Many great athletes do have very rare genetic gifts or were swinging clubs at 3, but those alone don’t make a great athlete. They also have certain mental characteristics and life routines to compliment.
I sometimes feel a bit guilty about being called an “elite” triathlete. I look at myself as a person of pretty normal talent. I haven’t been doing triathlons for very long. I’m not really competing at a world level (although that is really subjective). And I’m not making the big bucks. But I do have many of the mental characteristics and life habits that have helped me achieve a high level of achievement. I want to be a freak of nature with raw rare talent, but we’re given our dealt hand. Luckily some things you have a bit more control over (although some have to force it). It’s possible though and worthy to consider releasing some of your inner elite to bring new found fitness you never knew you had.
Here are ten off the cuff attributes I believe Elite athletes share. These are things that you can contribute to your daily routine and things that I strive to make part of my life.
- Strong motivation and work ethic: This is pretty obvious, right? It takes an attitude of doing the work and not cutting corners.
- Goal orientated: This is where a plan of action combines with work ethic. Setting a goal, sticking to it, and seeing that goal through.
- Fearless: Nobody is completely fearless. But you have to be afraid to fail and learn from adversity, not dwell on it.
- Positive: Focus on what’s going well. Focus on the benefits from what you’re doing. Be happy.
- Focused: Stay the course. Don’t be too broad in your goals. Thing about 1 day or one workout at a time.
- Patient: Things don’t happen overnight. It can take years to develop.
- Confident: Knowing you can do what you set out to do. Believe in yourself. Shape confidence through practice and experience.
- Non-emotional: Keep the drama low. Anxiety low. Control your emotions and be cool like a cucumber. Freaking out and getting over emotional generally results in poor performance.
- Rehearsed: Be prepared for workouts or events by mentally rehearsing them in your head and visualizing successes.
- Willingness to sacrifice: This is the hardest of them all because there is a line between sacrifice and obsessiveness (of which I’m sometimes accused). Missing beers on the boat to go for a long ride might be necessary; missing the birth of your first son…you might want to skip the workout. The line is different for everybody but there has to be some willingness to sacrifice some other activities that you may want to do.
There’s obviously more to it than this, but if the path you’re on is a little bumpy then step back for a moment and see if you’re attacking things in some of these ways.
Read more from Andy on our website >> Andy Drobeck: A Power Systems Professional Triathlete