Many people are capable of carrying out incredible feats of endurance and strength. We read about them in magazines, watch films about their adventures, and daydream about what it would be like to do something “like that.” Something badass.

Well, around here, we don’t believe that badass is only reserved for elite athletes. There are plenty of badass vibes that accompany people like you. People who accomplish personal goals month after month, year after year.

No matter if you’re training for a 50-mile trail race, a sprint triathlon, or simply the sport of life, the effort you put into your workouts lends itself to earning the status of badass. As you know, a lot of your past accomplishments didn’t come easily. Tackling physical challenges and improving your performance takes a certain kind of approach that goes beneath the surface and taps into who you are and who you want to be.

This approach is how I try to frame my own training (an ever-evolving work in progress) and is my modus operandi when coaching athletes.

the “how to train like a badass” approach:

  • Focus on the process.
  • Be consistent.
  • Own your output.
  • Define your purpose.

focus on the process – put mile markers before finish lines.

I admit that I am guilty of hyper-focusing on end goals, chasing finish lines, and dreaming about outcomes. So much so that, at times, I lose sight of what must happen today, tomorrow, and even at the present moment to turn those daydreams into a reality.

Why is it so easy to let our gaze end up on the horizon? Because starting a new challenge feels exciting and motivating. We can already picture our future selves smiling and celebrating an accomplishment. As much as you want to think about your results, you have to focus on the process. This means making a conscious decision to prioritize mile markers over finish lines and shift your attention to the daily grind.

As it turns out, that middle part between starting and arriving at the finish is not always glitzy and glamorous. In fact, it can be quite an uncomfortable place to be. But it’s also where you learn to deal with that discomfort and emerge strong, prepared, and even more badass than you were before.

be consistent – optimize your momentum.

Consistency paves the way to a successful race, event, or adventure. Consistent training introduces the importance of structure and organization into your training plan, allowing for an ebb and flow.

Once you have some momentum going with your workouts, it’s time to optimize it. Optimizing momentum is how you get more out of your training while developing valuable skills like discipline and patience – stuff that all badass endurance athletes are familiar with.

Consistency will look different for each individual athlete, and it is not the same thing as training every day. Or training hard every day. By following a structured training plan that factors in recovery, you create consistency and build momentum. You get some high-intensity training days that are balanced out with rest days. You have chances to drop the hammer and opportunities to hold yourself back.

It’s not always easy to put your head down, ignore what others might be doing, and stick to the plan. But if you’re always changing things up or making modifications, then your training never gets a chance to take root. To experience change and improvement, you have to stay consistent and optimize your momentum with patience and discipline.

own your output – share your input.

Owning your output is like investing in your effort level and follow-through. Badass athletes own their output. Ultimately, the training happens as planned, or it doesn’t. And even the best-laid training program won’t do you any good if there isn’t any follow-through.

On a day your legs feel like lead, or you feel like you’re moving through a fog, who’s in charge? Who decides to hop in the driver’s seat and make something happen? Not every workout will be a good workout, but you can still stay engaged with the process and own the results. Even when they’re not that pretty. But also when they are!

Owning your results leads to a huge sense of accomplishment (which can be a big factor in motivating you to keep going). When it comes down to it, you are the one who wakes up earlier than you’d prefer and keeps putting one foot in front of the other. And if you haven’t noticed yet, it can get lonely out there. This is why it never hurts to have the help, support, and guidance of others.

Whether or not you’re working with a coach, you always own your output. But you also have the opportunity to share your input. To be open and honest with yourself and your coach. If your training is going well, you say something about it. And if your training plan doesn’t seem to be working, you say something about that too. Sharing your input (while owning your output) enables you to express yourself as an athlete. And that’s badass.

define your purpose – make training meaningful.

We’ve all heard it before: “know your why.” But, why? Because understanding why you’re putting all your time and effort into something (that can sometimes feel self-indulgent, pointless, or not much fun) will make it worthwhile and meaningful while keeping you on track. Inevitably you’ll encounter days where you find yourself questioning it all. And when you no longer feel like you’re making progress or improving, your purpose will be there to hold you accountable for getting the work done anyway.

Defining your purpose is a big part of transitioning from working out to training. Training is working out with a purpose. Do you want to improve your fitness and performance? In what way and why is it important to you?

Once you have an answer, each workout becomes a stepping stone toward fulfilling that purpose. Purpose-driven workouts provide meaning, and the effects will spill over into how you live your life and show you who you are. And after a while, you won’t just train like a badass. You’ll feel like one too.