Do the latest fitness books have the info you need to be a better athlete or are they junk? TRAIN finds out in our book review of ‘The Brave Athlete: Calm the Fuck Down and Rise to the Occasion’.


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

Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson. VeloPress, $24.99 (342p)

When dealing with any kind of athletic endeavor – be it beginning a more demanding workout routine or competing for a spot on the Olympic triathlon team – performance has a lot to do with what’s above the neck.

Mental stability is just as important as physical strength.

In the latest release by husband-and-wife team Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson (a former sports psychologist and two-time XTERRA World Champion, respectively), they explore in depth how athletes can improve their psychological and emotional strength, which directly impacts every facet of training.

The philosophy behind the book is to understand how the different regions of the brain function and how to get the most out of the limbic system (the Chimp) and the frontal cortex (the Professor).


the brave athlete calm the f*ck down and rise to the occasion book


Understanding how your head works, the authors write, is critical to reaching “noggin nirvana”.

The most powerful chapters of the book dealt with recognizing the cycle of bad habits and learning how to create and embrace good routines, dealing with injury, leaving your comfort zone and handling pressure.

But perhaps the most invaluable section explored increasing mental toughness (ie: hardening the f*ck up) while dealing with pain. Various strategies are highlighted, like segmentation.

“When the suffering begins, our brain pleads with us to not think too far into the future. I can’t endure 60 minutes of this, but I can do 10 minutes… The neurological beauty of segmentation is that once the segment is completed, you get a mini-squirt of dopamine that resets the coping clock…”

Although the overuse of anecdotes weighed the book down a bit, the authors’ blunt and sometimes humorous writing style made for an enlightening and fun read.

Here’s an example: “There is no quick fix for meaningful change above the neck. The human mind is like your dad – he moans a lot and he doesn’t like change.”

While the information within isn’t groundbreaking, it’s presented in an interesting and informative way, which could be a life-changing metacognitive journey for athletes struggling with destructive patterns of thinking that negatively impact their athletic performance and personal lives.


Three things you can take away from it…

1. “Whatever the situation, however insurmountable it may appear, the first line of defense is to calm the f*ck down.”

2. “What’s the single-most- important psychological skill for an athlete to possess? It isn’t motivation, tenacity, optimism, concentration, or attitude – it’s self-confidence, the belief you can succeed.”

3. “Make no mistake about it, comfort zones are entirely imaginary. Like an emotional plaster cast for a leg that’s not broken.”


Final score


4 out of 5 dumbbell rating image


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