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Athletic Bookworm Bookclub: The Brave Athlete

July 10, 2017

Athletic Bookworm Bookclub: The Brave Athlete

Huge thanks to everyone who expressed interest in being part of this first Athletic Bookworm Bookclub. The first book we’re going to tackle is The Brave Athlete, which was the clear winner out of the three options I put out to the group. I’m excited about this one because one of the authors, Dr. Simon Marshall, already gave me some behind-the-scenes info, and he’s honestly completely hilarious—so I’m hoping we can work out a live audio-stream Q&A at the end of our reading!

The process:
I’m still working out some of the parameters for the Athletic Bookworms and how we’ll do book discussions, but I figured we’d start super simple and do it on this page for now. I’ll email out to the group with prompts and discussion questions, and we can start comment threads on here. If it grows to the point where it’s getting unruly, I’ll move to a more bookclub-established venue, but for now, we’ll keep it simple. (You can find the Athletic Bookworms tab in the Menu bar of The Outdoor Edit homepage, or just bookmark this link.) I’m also working on figuring out how livestreaming videos and audio can work, and if we should have an end-of-book group chat.

The timeline:
This book is pretty dense reading material, so let’s break it into four parts: Heart, Wings, and Fight (the book’s three parts) and then a final discussion. I’ll send out questions at the beginning of each reading section (so look for Heart coming in an email and getting dropped in here in the next couple days). We’ll keep all discussion for all parts on this page, and feel free to comment and answer any or all of the questions for each section within these timeframes:

  • July 10-27 Heart
  • July 27-Aug 10 Wings
  • Aug 11-Aug 22 Fight
  • Aug 23-30 Overarching discussion

The Athletic Bookworms:
As I said, right now discussions will live here and on a quick email list that will serve to send out updates and reminders (not too many), plus help pick the next books. If you want in on it and didn’t already sign up, just drop your name and email here to stay in touch, and so I can get a rough idea of how many people are reading the books (so we can get authors to hop on live Q&As, and hopefully score some sweet discounts on books in the future!):

OK, let’s get to the book!

The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion by Lesley Paterson and Dr. Simon Marshall

The Brave Athlete is a practical, step-by-step guide that solves common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races. In this mental makeover from professional athlete Lesley Paterson and sports psychology expert Dr. Simon Marshall, you’ll find new speed and joy in your sport by overcoming patterns of thinking, feeling, or acting that sabotage your potential and enjoyment. Whether you’re facing your first 5K or lining up at the World Championships, endurance sports demand courage, determination, and the ability to save yourself from mental pitfalls. Applying new science and hard-earned wisdom, The Brave Athlete gets down and dirty to conquer real problems faced by athletes of all levels.

A note before I start with the questions: I’m new to running a bookclub, so feel free to email or comment if you have alternate ideas for how to keep discussion flowing, etc.!

 

HEART Discussion Questions

  1. What are you hoping to get out of this book?
  2. Who do you identify with more—Simon or Lesley? (Why?)
  3. “Setting Goals is Not Your Problem” — we hear SO much about goal-setting as athletes, so what did you think about the title/the chapter?
  4. What did this section change about the way you’re thinking about your athletic ‘career’? Have you changed any goals or regimens?
  5. Are you comfortable calling yourself an athlete? Why or why not?
  6. How are you liking the book so far, in terms of layout and in terms of information?
  7. OK, this is the first in the Athletic Bookworm bookclub discussions: any comments/suggestions/preferences/changes you think we should make to contribute to the flow of this?

 

WINGS Discussion Questions

  1. Do you find yourself in the comparison trap? (And did any of these suggestions help snap you out of it? There was a great example I highlighted, re-read and re-read again in there!)
  2. Body image: obviously a huge issue with us as athletes. How do you think the authors handled this INSANELY thorny topic? (Especially dipping into talking about anxieties versus actual eating disorders)
  3. Have you ever had to deal with injury and coping with not training for a while? Did it change your view of yourself as an athlete?
  4. Would you be interested in setting up a group G-chat, Twitter chat or webinar to have a ‘book club meeting’? (If so, which is your preference?

 

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8 comments
  1. I'm going to kick off the commenting on here by answering a couple of the HEART discussion questions! What are you hoping to get out of this book? When I started racing 8 years ago, I pretty much went from 0 to 100, nonathletic to super athlete. But then, I sort of burned out. Now, I'm at this point in my athletic life where competition makes me cringe, but I desperately miss it. (I race a couple times a year, and do pretty well... and we have Ironman in 2 weeks, so clearly I'm still 'in it' but I'm just trying to figure out who I am as an athlete anymore.) A couple years ago, someone heckled me that if I raced as well as I wrote, I would be winning. Which was both really nice and really sad! But it did make me think about my racing career and likely was part of me stepping away from racing seriously. Now, I want to get some of that confidence I used to have back! Who do you identify with more—Simon or Lesley? I admit, I was way more inclined to say Lesley as I started reading, but after I had the chance to interview Simon (and I'll post that audio soon!), I really enjoyed talking to him and getting super nerdy about how we deal with failure. (Also I love how much he curses in casual conversation! It was hilarious.) Honestly, I really love how the two of them interact within this book, partially because it reminds me of my own husband and myself, since Peter is a coach, kinesiologist and an athlete, and I'm a writer/athlete/et cetera, and we do a lot of work in sport together, podcasting/coaching/running camps/writing. So despite my lack of major palmares like Lesley, we do have a somewhat similar backstory!

    • molly hurford

      The more I read in here, the more I am seeing how much my athletic identity shifted in the last few years--and that simon and I have something in common! Maintaining the identity of an athlete when married to a pro has been a major challenge but it wasn't until I read this that it really clicked with me that I've been struggling with that--and that I shouldn't compare my training to that of pros (especially one I'm married to) because it's not getting me anywhere. Whoa.

  2. “Setting Goals is Not Your Problem” — we hear SO much about goal-setting as athletes, so what did you think about the title/the chapter? I loved this because I am a total goal setter with only occasional follow-through. I think they're right that so often, we get caught in this weird goal-setting moment where we're focused on spending time doing that versus doing the work. What did this section change about the way you’re thinking about your athletic ‘career’? Have you changed any goals or regimens? I enjoyed the discussion of habits and habit stacking, though I admit, I'd already read most of the books and papers that they had referenced because I'm a habit dork. (See my articles on morning routines and core and yoga—I basically was a case study for them!) Are you comfortable calling yourself an athlete? Why or why not? I am, but I don't think if I had a normal non-athletic-oriented job, I would be. Because I write about it for a living, in addition to racing occasionally and training on most days, it's easy to ID myself as one. Even the use of the word training rather than exercise even when I'm not following a plan is a mental shift, I think. How are you liking the book so far, in terms of layout and in terms of information? I'm really pleased so far with our pick! I was a little nervous that it would be super dry, and I think the brain parts at the beginning, while helpful, might have been better left for the end, to be honest, because it took ages to get through and made me wonder if it was going to be over my head/not practical. But the heart section was great!

  3. Playing catch up on this as I make final preparations for the Quebec Singletrack Experience (Thanks Peter for the solid advice - I'll need every bit of it). What are you hoping to get out of this book? I'm curious to see how I can reconsider the athletic side of my life. I work in sports media, and have covered three Olympic Games, Pan Am Games, X Games. As such, I am often working with what I might call "big A" athletes. Wait, that sounds mean... Just that these people are at the elite level in their sport nationally and internationally. I have seen that to be an athlete is a way of life, not just a facet of someone's personality. Or is it? I hope in reading this book, I can challenge some of these conceptions. I tend not to think about myself as an athlete - I almost never compete in officially sanctioned events, and only just bought my first UCI license. I do feel athletic, though to what degree varies over time. I don't like the work that goes into being an "athlete," but I like to go and play on my bike, in whitewater, on skis, and have the byproduct be greater athleticism. I'll leave the rest for now since I have to actually read the book first. Thanks for getting this rolling Molly. Good luck at Ironman.

    • Thanks, Dean! And totally know what you mean—working as a sports journalist makes it waaaaay harder to consider yourself an athlete since we know so many *Athletes*! That's where I get stuck and start feeling sort of 'lesser than' when it comes to training/racing, and that's something I know I want to get over!

  4. 1.What are you hoping to get out of this book? At first I assumed this book was going to be fluff, or too geared toward a racer/higher level than myself. But their writing has put me ease and I DO BELONG. It would be nice to learn skills to overcome my negative speak. 5.Are you comfortable calling yourself an athlete? Why or why not? I did, at one point, because I was training and coached to try racing. Only then did I feel legitimate enough to call myself an athlete. AND to boot - someone else called me that first, allowing me to "borrow" the description. 6.How are you liking the book so far, in terms of layout and in terms of information? I really love how relaxed the authors are, how genuine and relatable, and I like the layout of the chapters and the consideration of athletes of all levels. 7.OK, this is the first in the Athletic Bookworm bookclub discussions: any comments/suggestions/preferences/changes you think we should make to contribute to the flow of this? Any way to do a webex or a free conference call/webinar to all chat live together?

    • Great idea RE webinar! I'll look into it. I'm totally with you on the 'athlete' thing—funny how much easier it is to use that title when someone else uses it first!

  5. molly

    Do you find yourself in the comparison trap? (And did any of these suggestions help snap you out of it? There was a great example I highlighted, re-read and re-read again in there!) LOVE this section. There was a great example about a woman who always saw another racer and assumed that her life/athletic life was absolutely perfect. Of course, it wasn't... and they ended up becoming friends! I've definitely run into this, both now that I'm surrounded by really skilled riders, and before, when I first got into sports. I've never been great at 'being a beginner,' or worse, being a novice who doesn't have the beginner excuse, just isn't that skilled! So that's something I've been learning to cope with a *bit* more.

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