The Brave Athlete

Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion

By Dr. Simon Marshall, Lesley Paterson


The Brave Athlete solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races.


The Brave Athlete solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races. 

You don’t have one brain—you have three; your ancient Chimp brain that keeps you alive, your modern Professor brain that navigates the civilized world, and your Computer brain that checks your memories and runs your habits (good and bad). They fight for control all the time and that’s when bad things happen; you get crazy nervous before a race, you choke under pressure, you quit when the going gets tough, you make dumb mistakes, you worry about how you look.

What if you could stop the thoughts and feelings you don’t want? What if you could feel confident, suffer like a hero, and handle any stress? You can.

The Brave Athlete from Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson will help you take control of your brain so you can train harder, race faster, and better enjoy your sport. Dr. Marshall is a sport psychology expert who trains the brains of elite professional athletes. Paterson is a three-time world champion triathlete and coach. Together, this husband-and-wife team offers their innovative, brain training guide that is the first to draw from both clinical science and real-world experience with athletes.

That means you won’t find outdated “positive self-talk” or visualization gimmicks here. No, the set of cutting-edge mental skills revealed in The Brave Athlete actually work because they challenge the source of the thoughts and feelings you don’t want. The Brave Athlete  is packed with practical, evidence-based solutions to the most common mental challenges athletes face. Which of these sound like you?

  • Why do I have thoughts and feelings I don’t want?
  • I wish I felt more like an athlete.
  • I don’t think I can.
  • I don’t achieve my goals.
  • Other athletes seem tougher, happier, and more badass than me.
  • I feel fat.
  • I don’t cope well with injury.
  • People are worried about how much I exercise.
  • I don’t like leaving my comfort zone.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough leave me behind.
  • I need to harden the f*ck up.
  • I keep screwing up.
  • I don’t handle pressure well.

With The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion, you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset.

Read excerpts from The Brave Athlete on the VeloPress Mental Training page

See this helpful chapter summary for an overview of the book.

Meet Lesley Paterson and Dr. Simon Marshall during their Brave Athlete Tour.

The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion
Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson
Paperback with full-color interior with tables and worksheets throughout.
6″ x  8 1/4″, 360 pp., $24.95, 9781937715731

The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion

Dr. Simon Marshall, Lesley Paterson

Paperback Full-color interior with tables and worksheets throughout.

Shipping Dimensions: 6.125in x 8.25in x .8125in 360pp $24.95, Inventory 9781937715731, Shipping 1.25lbs




1 Hello, Brain! A peek inside your 3-pound lump of crazy

HEART: Hone your passion, motivation, and identity

2 I Wish I Felt More Like an Athlete: Tackling the flawed thinking around your athletic identity

3 I Don’t Think I Can: Building confidence and self-belief

4 Setting Goals Is Not Your Problem: The secret of doing

WINGS: Deal with obstacles, setbacks, and conflict

5 Other Athletes Seem Tougher, Happier, and More Badass Than Me: The power and peril of comparison

6 I Feel Fat: Dealing with body image in a world of athletes

7 I Don’t Cope Well with Injury: How to respond to setbacks, big and small

8 People Are Worried About Me: Exercise dependence and the incessant need to do more

FIGHT: Get stuck in with new battle skills

9 I Don’t Like Leaving My Comfort Zone: How to cross the fear barrier

10 When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Leave Me Behind: Resisting the urge to quit

11 I Need to Harden the F*ck Up: Learning to embrace the suck

12 I Keep Screwing Up: Developing Jedi concentration skills to become a better athlete

13 I Don’t Handle Pressure Well: How to cope with stress, anxiety, and expectations on race day




About the Authors

For more info, take a look at this Brave Athlete Chapter Summary.

Preview book.

“Lesley Paterson is one of the most mentally tough professional athletes I know, and Simon Marshall knows why. Their special sauce has finally been bottled and the strategies described in The Brave Athlete promise to help athletes of all abilities become dirty fast.” —Tim Don, World Champion triathlete

“Forget marginal gains, Dr. Simon Marshall understands the most important part of performance: the athlete’s mind. His expertise is an invaluable resource to help athletes master theirs.” —David Bailey, PhD, Head of Performance at BMC Racing Team

“My training background and philosophy evolved under the coaching of Lesley and the mental slapping of Simon.” —Jessica Cerra, professional cyclist

“I have admired Dr. Simon Marshall’s talent as a scientist and a communicator for more than two decades. In The Brave Athlete, he brings this talent to the fore as he translates psychological science into meaningful strategies to help athletes become more confident, motivated, and calm.” —Dr. Kirsten Davison, Professor of Public Health, Harvard University

“At the Leeds Triathlon Centre, we pay as much attention to psychology as we do to physiology. Few things are simple in sport but in The Brave Athlete, Simon and Lesley tackle the complexities of getting the best from yourself in a clear and engaging way.” —Jack Maitland, Head Triathlon Coach, Leeds Beckett University

The Brave Athlete will take you deep inside yourself so that you can identify what you thought were your limits and, with Simon and Lesley’s help, smash them to smithereens.” —Bob Babbitt, host of Babbittville Radio, USA Triathlon Hall of Fame inductee

“Simon and Lesley get to the heart of what it takes to be a brave athlete. It’s about creating a mindset that goes to bat for you rather than against you. The Brave Athlete is an invaluable guide to help you sort your head out. Plus it’s funny. Really bloody funny.” —Flora Duffy, World Champion triathlete

“Marshall and Paterson, in some kind of post-Western duo, limn their own version of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Only the guns and whiskey are replaced with doctoral degrees and world titles. In The Brave Athlete they challenge the reader to draw swords on the psychic battlefields of sport but do so with the gift of Continental mirth and compassion.” —Scott Tinley, two-time Ironman World Champion, author, and teacher

“Working with Lesley and Simon has been one of the biggest life-changing experiences.” —Mauricio Méndez, XTERRA World Champion and Ironman 70.3 champion

“Simon and Lesley bring years of training at the world-class level, in multiple sports, together with years of working in academia—all in the real world.” —Janel Holcomb, professional cyclists and coach

“Lesley’s passion for helping others grow and enjoy a deeper sense of satisfaction with their lives is evident in everything she does. In her book, she expertly addresses the concerns and setbacks so many people face in their pursuits, and outlines a simple and elegant strategy for helping anyone become their very best.” —Ben Hoffman, Professional Triathlete and Ironman Champion

“I always struggled with my inner self and demons during races. Simon taught me not only how to deal with those demons, but how to manipulate them in such a way to take my racing to an entirely different level.” —Kyle Hummel, Ironman 70.3 Age Group World Champion

“The formula for this book is a winner and can be applied to any challenging situation.” —Dr. Jacqueline Kerr, Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California at San Diego

“Dr. Simon Marshall and World Champion Lesley Paterson remind us that that the best kind of sport psychology is when evidence-based science meets the minds of real athletes. The Brave Athlete bridges this gap with humor and compassion, whilst revealing tenacity for moving forward. This book shows us how to cope with common demons that threaten to disrupt our performances and enjoyment of sport.” —Dr. Alison Pope-Rhodius, Professor & Chair, Sport Psychology, JFK University

“Combining their experience in triathlon, psychology, and writing, Lesley and Simon are a force to be reckoned with. They’re brilliant and hilarious.” —Mitch Thrower, Founder and Chairman of, Author, and 22x Ironman Triathlete

“The tools I’ve learned from Simon are simply priceless, and to have it all encapsulated into a book for everyone to read is critical reading for any athlete looking to perform at their very best.” —Amy Dixon, Paralympic Hopeful, ITU World Ranking: #5

“Lesley has also shown me the ability to suffer like no other with the strategies outlined in The Brave Athlete. With these skills, neither family or sport is jeopardized, bringing a much-needed balance to my life.” —Brandon Mills, age-group mountain biker

“Dr. Marshall has such way of explaining the human mind, in the simplest terms and why we think the way we do. Both of them were there day one when I fought the biggest battle of my life: breast cancer, and I’m still winning. Simon and Lesley are coaches who ‘walk the talk’!” —Marison Beniek, age group triathlete and breast cancer survivor

“Marshall and Paterson introduce a simple mental model for concentration ‘mojo’ along with techniques that will help you reduce mental errors and careless mistakes.” Ultrarunning

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