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What Are the Most Important Traits of a Successful Endurance Athlete?

Las Vegas Endurance Athlete

Las Vegas Endurance AthleteBy: Jeremy Wallace

I have this picture of runner Amy Hastings, cut from a magazine, on my fridge along with the following quote from a different source:

“I believe an athlete’s genetics are probably the second biggest factor to success.  The most important ingredient is the mental edge that all great athletes possess.  The drive. The heart.  The anger. The hunger. The desire. The desperation. The ability to suffer. The absolute hatred of being second best. And the intense fear of failure.”

Hastings was in the final stretch on her way to winning the 10,000m final in the 2012 US Olympic trials.  I cut the picture out because I see all of the above traits captured in this photo and I wanted to be reminded of what it takes to be a successful endurance athlete, for myself and for the athletes I train.

Before you get your running shorts in a wad, I DO believe success can be defined in many ways.  Winning an Olympic trials event is certainly a success, but so is placing in your age group or finishing a marathon, or running your first mile since high school, or maybe you define your success as leading a healthy lifestyle and getting some exercise with the local run club on the weekends.  The bottom line is Amy wanted to win this particular 10K and had the willingness to suffer and sacrifice to make that happen, in her training and obviously in this race.   You can see it in her face.  However you define success, I’ve come to know a few simple truths about the topic:

1- Real success requires stepping outside your comfort zone.

2- There are no handouts.  If you really want something, you have to get it.

3- If you want something bad enough, you won’t make excuses for why you can’t have it.

I’ve thought a lot about why some athletes have a willingness to go out in the elements for 2 hours of hill repeats while others think 30 minutes on the treadmill will accomplish the same thing.  Would that make the second athlete any less successful?  It depends on his or her definition of success.  I challenge you to look inside yourself and see if you really want to succeed or you just kinda want it.  If you really want it, when will you take the first step?  I can tell you that the above traits are very common in my successful athletes but not very common overall.   I can also tell you Amy’s uncanny ability to convey all this through a photo is truly amazing!

See you on the roads.
Thanks Amy!

Jeremy Wallace
2:51 marathoner
RRCA and USATF Certified Coach and Personal Trainer

USATF and RRCA Running Coach, Jeremy Wallace

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