Age group athletes also lack quite a few features that professional athletes have mastered to perfection. In actuality, these features play a much more significant role in success than physical parameters such as VO2 max, economy, lean muscle mass, metabolic efficiency and mental toughness.
First, let's just define success. A successful athlete, amateur or professional alike, has nothing to do with their number of podium wins. Podium wins are irrelevant. Whether you are an age group athlete that has just started the sport or you have been doing it for a few or many years, whether you are a tier 2 or tier 3 (newbie) or a tier 1 (top 10 in the world) professional athlete, the podium does not define you. You can always find a relevant race somewhere in the world that you can probably earn a podium spot, regardless of your experience, level or ability. This alone does not make you successful.
Success is careful planning and execution along with consistent and long-term progress.
Let's just now talk about the characteristics of success that age group athletes oftentimes lack compared to professional athletes. The six elements of professionalism:
1. Professionally outlined plan
Whether they have a coach or not, true professional athletes always have a well outlined plan. Tailored to their individual strengths and weaknesses, a well outlined plan has specific goals that are usually challenging but achievable.
2. Professional execution of the plan
True professional athletes are committed and relentlessly persistent. They execute the prescribed workouts at their best of their abilities. And they stick to the plan. They have No excuses. They just make it happen. And when it's time to back off or take an extra day off, they adjust with no extra drama.
3. Professional attitude during injuries and other set-backs
Everybody gets injured at some point. And it is never easy. True professional athletes deal with injuries setting timelines and following the prescribed rehab plans. No excess emotion or depression. It is what it is and they just have to go over it. Oftentimes, they may utilize the injury to take a break and work on some of their weaknesses as long as whatever they do does not affect the rehab and does not slow down the progress of getting better faster.
4. Professional attitude to failure
Everybody fails at some point. Failure is a good thing. Winning is also a good thing but failure is better. Failure unveils the true athlete. The way a true professional handles failure exposes their true character. True professional athletes know how to embrace their failures. They analyse them in detail so that they do not repeat the same mistakes again.
5. Professional commitment to strengthen the weaknesses
Who doesn't feel strong and powerful on their element? In case of triathlon, athletes usually come from different athletic backgrounds or from an individual sport. Therefore, inevitably, they have weaknesses. True professional athletes focus at prolonged and consistent times on their weaknesses. They just outline whatever they need to do in order to get better and then try to nail them down to perfection.
6. Professional passion for the sport
True athletes love what they do. There are no sacrifices while training and racing. There are only future investments and tons of excitement in every step that makes them better.
Always remember that almost every professional athlete started by competing at the amateur level. Some made the transition to being professionals faster, others slower (for various reasons). Others had equipment and resources and others did not. If you really want it, you can make it happen. You should not complain for not having this or the other - athletes make it work with what they have.