The Brave Athlete is the new, cutting-edge brain training guide from Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson. With The Brave Athlete, you can solve the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside each chapter of The Brave Athlete.
Brave athletes feel fear and jump anyway. The ability to jump despite feeling fearful is not only a skill that you can learn, but also one that opens up the opportunity to enjoy your sport in a new way.
Chapter 1: Hello, Brain! A peek inside your 3-pound lump of crazy
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 runs your habits (good and bad). They fight for control all the time and that’s when bad things happen. Your Chimp brain, for example, has been given ancient powers to ensure that you hear its blaring warnings that the sh*t is about to hit the fan. What the ancient parts of your brain don’t know is that you just want to enjoy the non-threatening world of endurance sports! This chapter introduces the tools that can help your three brains calm the f*ck down and get along. [See a part of this chapter: The Chimp and Professor Battling Inside Your Brain]
HEART: HONE YOUR PASSION, MOTIVATION, AND IDENTITY
Chapter 2: I Wish I Felt More Like an Athlete: Tackling the flawed thinking around your athletic identity
When you look in the mirror, you want to see an athlete inside and out. Unfortunately, many don’t. Too many athletes see fakes, frauds, and imposters. This chapter helps you build up your inner athlete in a variety of surprising ways so you can identify with the athlete you really are—and become more like the one you want to be.
Chapter 3: I Don’t Think I Can: Building confidence and self-belief
Self-confidence is the athlete’s wonder drug. It’s the single most powerful attribute you can possess. And you can’t get it from stupid internet memes or inspirational cat posters. In this chapter we learn the sources of self-confidence and self-doubt and how to build or repair your self-belief. [See a part of this chapter: Don’t Get Your Confidence from the Internet!]
Chapter 4: Setting Goals Is Not Your Problem: The secret of doing
Be honest: goal-setting just isn’t that hard! Most athletes don’t have a thinking problem, they have a doing problem. In this chapter we look at what motivates you and delve into your Computer brain to teach you how to crack bad habits and build good ones that help you reach your goals. [See a part of this chapter: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones]
WINGS: DEAL WITH OBSTACLES, SETBACKS, AND CONFLICT
Chapter 5: Other Athletes Seem Tougher, Happier, and More Badass Than Me: The power and peril of comparison
Evolution can be cruel. We’re biologically wired to broadcast our own awesomeness while at the same time scavenge for information to see how we stack up. But trouble brews when we’re force-fed a diet of highlight reels from other people on social networks. In this chapter you’ll learn all about “impression management” and why your friends can sometimes make you feel sh*tty. You’ll consider whether your own social network use is healthy and find out what you can do to stay happy, motivated, and grounded. [See a part of this chapter: Why Your Online Friends Make You Feel Like Sh*t! and How to Filter Truthiness and Bullsh*t]
Feeling occasionally unhappy about the way we look is normal, but as endurance athletes we get double whammied because we routinely squeeze ourselves into skintight apparel and show our neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends what we’re made of. For most of us, feeling fat comes and goes, but for others it just seems ever-present. This chapter gives athletes practical strategies to cope with thoughts and feelings they don’t want about their body. Bonus: how to talk to friends or family who are preoccupied with their bodies. [See a part of this chapter: Feeling Fat: Why Fat-Talk Matters]
Chapter 7: I Don’t Cope Well with Injury: How to respond to setbacks, big and small
If you find yourself grumpy, moody, or depressed when you get injured and can’t seem to get out of the funk, this chapter is for you (and your family and friends!). We identify eight common psychological gremlins that lurk in the brains of injured athletes and impede recovery and piss off loved ones. This chapter shows what you can do to improve your mood while you rehab injuries—and how your family can become more supportive, too. [See a part of this chapter: How to Talk to Your Injured Athlete]
Chapter 8: People Are Worried About Me: Exercise dependence and the incessant need to do more
When does a healthy habit become a destructive obsession? In this chapter we learn the differences between healthy exercise, exercise dependence, addictions, and what to do if you or your friends meet the criteria. You’ll find out good ways to talk to friends of family about overdoing it. Bonus: How to manage the taper tantrums.
FIGHT: GET STUCK IN WITH NEW BATTLE SKILLS
Chapter 9: I Don’t Like Leaving My Comfort Zone: How to cross the fear barrier
A breakthrough in happiness, self-awareness, and mental toughness requires new experiences, but the best new experiences for your brain lie out yonder where the gremlins live. In this chapter we blow up the myth of comfort zones and show how you can jump over your own psychological fences when they are holding you back instead of keeping you safe.
We all quit stuff occasionally, but sometimes we really should persevere. This chapter shows a simple way to identify the “legit quit” and the “sh*t quit”. You’ll explore the neuroscience of quitting and find out how to pit your three brains against each other to “quit quitting”.
Chapter 11: I Need to Harden the F*ck Up: Learning to embrace the suck
HTFU! You’ve seen it on social media, on stickers and t-shirts, perhaps even tattoed to someone’s wrist. Suffering is fundamental to endurance sports, as we’ve all learned the hard way. Success in endurance sport is partly determined by who can tolerate the most physical and mental suffering and persist in the face of adversity. In this chapter we explore proven strategies to help you get better at suffering.
Chapter 12: I Keep Screwing Up: Developing Jedi concentration skills to become a better athlete
Most dumb mistakes in endurance sports are rooted in paying attention to the wrong things at the wrong time. A hallmark of the brave athlete is focus under stress and distraction. In this chapter we introduce you to a simple mental model for concentration mojo and present easy-to-learn techniques that reduce mental errors and silly mistakes when the heat is on. [See a part of this chapter: How to Stop Making Mistakes on Race Day, or How to Get in the Zone Like Michael Phelps]
The urge to crap your pants is your brain’s way of telling your body that your life could be in danger. The trouble is that no one bothered to tell your brain that it’s only a race! Your ancient Chimp brain still lives in fear even when there is no actual threat to life. In this chapter we train your brain to calm the f*ck down and move beyond worry about rejection, embarrassment, humiliation, and inadequacy so you can focus on getting the job done well. [See a part of this chapter: Two Tricks Brave Athletes Use to Handle Pressure]
About the Authors
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The Brave Athlete solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races. 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.