I just read this great post on the TRX blog by big time personal trainer Todd Durkin on what it takes to become a champion. Todd is talking about now super star Drew Brees on his way to winning Super Bowl 44.

Now we all aren’t going to be first across the line… but in my mind and it should be instilled into yours is that we should always be attaining to become a champion in our own right. Todd states that there is ‘no substitute for training – physical, mental/emotional and spiritual’. But gives 10 traits to becoming a champion. Below are those ten traits with some of the content slightly adapted to fit in with our sport of triathlon. Triathlon is different and needs to trained differently.

“When you train, wall off your mind from distraction, and focus on the movements you’re performing and your goals. When you train, train consciously. Master your mind. Tune into how your body feels. Get turned on.”

1. Condition. Fully commit to your program. You need to have the same commitment to your physical health and conditioning. We have all heard the stories of athletes with legendary work ethic but it’s not about doing more volume in triathlon, its the long term consistency and intensity of focus that will make you great.

2. Study your craft. Unfortunately this is a tough one to do and know whats going on. There is a lot of myths in triathlon and the coaching certifications still currently today follow a periodization model that does not work for triathlon… Triathlon is a unique sport unto itself. I have said it before. It’s not swim+bike+run but swimbikerun.

Now it is imperative to be your best, you need to study your craft (hobby). This means ongoing education, reading and working on your mental state. The attitude of a great life is to “never stop learning”. This is why each week you’ll be learning about the real craft of triathlon through our TriSpecific U module.

3. Have F.A.I.T.H. Drew Bree developed this acronym:

F = Fortitude and strength – physical, mental/emotional and spiritual

A = Attitude – your attitude determines your altitude

I = Integrity – do what’s right, eliminate distractions and stay focused

T = Trust – trust your preparation, your coach/plan and yourself

H = Humility – be humble, be hungry

4. Surround yourself with great people. Your ‘inner circle’ should be made up of positive people that support you through the ups and downs. Minimise your contact with those that continually want to pull you down. Remember it’s a two way street and you also have to bring encouragement to the table, when those close to your are down.

Being positive and having a smile is contagious. Be that positive person!

5. Work hard. Let’s not forget that it takes a lot of hard work to achieve success in any field. True professionals can make their jobs look easy, but it takes countless hours and fierce dedication. I dare you to show me a champion with an easy job.

You need to train hard, but the smart coach or triathlete knows that doesn’t mean logging more hours and hitting every session with high intensity. That is a surefire way to burnout and zero results. Hard work, means becoming intuitive with your body, being consistent with your training, your nutrition, your recovery. This is where human performance comes from and it will give you the mental edge.

6. Expect to win and always believe! This is a mindset that is developed. It comes with trusting your preparation and your coach and knowing that you have done everything possible to be a winner. It also involves the ability to overcome adversity. In every training session and race, there are shifts in momentum that must be weathered. In each of our lives, we face challenges that must be overcome. You need to believe in yourself and what you’re aiming to achieve. Success comes to those that expect it!

7. Be a leader. Each of us must captain our own ship. We must take responsibility for our actions; we must strive to be better always and to lead our lives as a role model for the next generation.

What standards have you set for yourself?

8. Define your “GCM.” This stands for your Game Changing Move. What is the one thing you must do to change your life or your business? It often involves risk, going outside your comfort zone and doing things that aren’t always the most popular.

We could call this our race or even training changing move… These are little decisions we make each and every day. Each time you make the out of comfort zone decision, it strengthens your resolve and makes you better at the task, but each time you cop out or take the ‘easy’ road it will weaken your resolve and make it easier to back off or even quit.

Every race, every training session, and every life has GCM’s. Figure out what yours are, and learn to stay uncomfortable!

9. Finish strong!! At TriSpecific it is no coincidence that a lot of your training sessions we’re learning the ability to push hard in the later stages (there are major physiological reason for this which will be discussed in TriSpecificU). This instills the finish strong attitude. Finishing strong is all consuming… Do you back off those last few strokes into the wall while swimming or are they still strong, focused and purposeful. Do you train a little to hard/fast in the early parts of the session and then can’t push hard when it COUNTS?

We all need to remember to “finish strong” in our daily lives. So many times we get close to a goal, and we lose hope. We give up on a dream. We stop training at high levels. We slack off. We face obstacles and become paralyzed rather than taking them head on.

10. And then some… what are those little aspects of the day to day that champions do? For Drew Brees it was come in early and leave late (like Michael Jordon) and doing the extra reps. Now we can’t do that in Triathlon as the cost would be too huge BUT there are many aspects where we can gain competitive edge. Like be there in each and every training session… don’t just go through the motions, eat REAL food and cut out the junk, get real with recovery (sleep, rolling, nutrition and downtime) and do this consistently… develop that winning attitude. If someone else is doing it or has done it why can’t you?

Time to design your own success!