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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  579 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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

You dont have one brainyou have three; your ancient Chimp brain that keeps you alive, your modern Professor brain that navigates the civilized world, and your Computer brain that accesses your memories and runs your habits (good and bad). They fight for

Kindle Edition, 360 pages
Published June 16th 2017 by VeloPress
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 - I almost didn't push past the first few chapters because the style of writing rubbed me the wrong way. It reminded me of when a parent tries to be "down with the kids" - swearing and telling unfunny jokes to show how cool they are. The authors might have done this because they actually don't care, or because they thought it's what would sell more books than the next sports psychology author; whatever the reasons it was annoying and nearly made me quit.

The number of times the authors
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Speaking as a mental health professional, I think the authors do a fantastic job of communicating complex, evidence-based brain-wrangling techniques in a hilarious, easily digestible manner. They call out hogwash pseudopsychology and offer practical, actionable skills to deal with anxiety and other crappy situations that drive people to quit anything. They acknowledge that some athletes desire to white-knuckle through hard stuff by hardening the fuck up and counter it with research and empathy ...more
Sherrard Ewing
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
This book has great advice on training, dealing with anxiety and having a holistic approach to training and living life. I would have given it more stars if it wasn't trying so hard to be clever and crass. I will continue to refer to this book, albeit rolling my eyes at the dumb jokes that get in the way.
Tara deCamp
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book has some interesting advice on dealing with stress, anxiety, and training as an athlete. However, the writing felt like they were trying too hard to be funny and cool.

Note: this is most relevant to triathletes or endurance athletes who run, cycle, or swim.
Kat Schuller
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! You can translate this from Athletics to other aspects of your life. It's not JUST about mental mindset to be a better athlete. It's about knowing and understanding how our primal brain interacts with our rational brain. You can use this and apply it to addictive behavior, bad habits, or any kind of self image. Great read.
Janessa Taylor
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There isn't anything that I don't love about this book. It has been an incredible reference since I'm just getting back in to working out this year and I refer to it again and again.
Shannon Enloe
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a ridiculously competitive athlete this book was a really interesting read. Lots of new info to digest. I feel like I will reread this closer to my next Ironman race to remind myself of a lot of good tips and tricks and insights into why we do the things we do and how to trust the process and scientific data that backs up so much of the info in this book that does deal with the happy bullshit motivational quotes but instead tells it like it is. Which is right up my alley! ...more
Maciek Wojciechowski
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
They said themselves "it's our first book and it shows". I like the material and their approach to things. But they need to figure out better structure to it all.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every endurance athlete [except those competing in my age bracket :-)] should read this book!
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Generally useful. Not totally my style in communication, and there was a big block in the center of the book about having difficult conversations with loved ones who might need professional help (counseling for addiction, etc) that felt a bit out of place with the rest of the book. The areas around goal setting, building grit, and managing motivation were helpful.
Christopher Barry
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
The most practical book on mental toughness and related issues with endurance athletes I've read. Too bad that the writing gets ingratiating after 300 pages of 'dumbing it down' with swears and terrible jokes. It is filled with science and research and the very practical, actual things you can do based on the science to deal with your issues. (Like how counting to 4, 6 or 8 when you need to dig a littler deeper, for a little longer in the middle of a sufferfest works because of how it focuses ...more
John Johnson
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A friend of mine posted an online comment about this book that caught my attention so I decided to read it. My friend is a much better athlete than I am and competes in marathons and triathlons throughout the year, so I expected this book to be aimed at elite athletes. I was a little intimidated, but decided to read it, anyway. I'm glad I did. I believe this book can be very helpful to athletes at all levels; not just elites.

The authors explain that you are controlled mentally by three parts of
Christy Keeler
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, the language in the book reflects the language on the cover. But, calm the f--- down. It's okay.

Marshall and Paterson present a brilliant book that fills an important niche. This is the first book I've found that addresses psychological aspects of training and racing. The focus is on swimming, biking, running, and triathlon, but would appeal to athletes from most sports (particularly individual sports). Instead of discussing (once again) what to eat, how many miles or hours to train, how
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book fit nicely into two categories of books Ive been reading lately: self help books with curse words in the title and books about being an athlete. It is hands down the best self help book Ive ever read.

It is rooted in science and psychology, works hard to bust the stupid memes were forced to contend with everyday, and draws lines between what is reasonable mental barriers to be worked on individually and what needs a professional. I think any non athlete would get a lot out of it.

Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running
As the title suggests, this is not your run-of-the-mill self-help book. Yet (thankfully) "Calm the Fck Down" also veers away from the unpolished, unacademic "bro-science" books that have flooded the athletic self-help market and wasted countless valuable hours of our time.

Instead, "Calm the Fck Down" defines a common, relevant problem and offers actionable solutions. It's definitions are academic and if you're like me, you're tripped up by some habits and thought processes that you didn't even
Sara Russell
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, loved the info, and the exercises were interesting, though Im not actively training for anything in particular. By Chapter 10, I finally relaxed into the author(s?)s voice....but it has such a forced and unnatural tone that Im surprised I stuck with it the first few chapters; unclear if thats due to an editor trying to soften the sharp language and style or if it was the author trying too hard (suspect a bit of both). Nice to see trainers who take a scientific-ish approach, are wicked ...more
Colette Martin
Feb 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
After seeing so many positive reviews, I am surprised at how much I disliked this book. It simply didn't resonate with me. It seems to be written for young athletes who have not had much adversity in their lives (too used to getting a trophy just for showing up perhaps?), or for those who are certifiably nuts. If you tend to overthink things, this book will cause you to overthink even more. I say skip the book, do yoga.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned. I laughed!
Nigel Carroll
I don't really know who this book was aimed at to be honest. I did find some bits very interesting, and a couple of full chapters I felt were quite relevant, but I did not click with this at all.

I went for the audiobook version and first of all the narration style didn't suit me, and the writing style would generally not have been my cup of tea. I would have found this book to be MUCH more interesting, if Leslie was to focus in on several key issues she had faced in her career, rather than
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
cutesy writing style is not to my taste, but some good anecdotes [a lot from triathlon, the domain of the coauthor Lesley Patterson] and broadly sensible advice [set realistic goals, develop good habits, be accountable to a training partner if not yourself, trust the process rather than worrying about outcomes, use mindfulness meditation and/or progressive muscle relaxation and/or cognitive reframing to cope with anxiety, performance enactments are most dependable basis for improving ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was written by a married couple--Marshall a sport psychologist and Paterson a three-time world champion triathlete and coach. I would say this booked covered similar ground to The Champion Mindset but from a different and complementary lens, so I thought it was worth reading both. This book definitely has a lighter (and sometimes goofier) tone (those Aussies!). A lot of how they present things is around your three brains--the "chimp brain" (the irrational, emotional, instant ...more
Louellen Coker
Read this book whether or not youre an athlete. The authors present the things that can hold us back on the course and give actionable advice on how to deal with them. As the way we handle difficulties in the microcosm of the course often mirrors how we approach and handle issues in other aspects of our life. What you learn regarding in the realm of sport will apply elsewhere.

The tone of the book is conversational and approachable and youll feel like youre having a conversation with friends. I
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about sports psychology and how it can impact performance. Though at times I felt like it catered more to higher performing athletes (e.g., professionals, higher performing age groupers - not middle of the packers like me), there are still a lot of great nuggets to learn. I thought the authors were particularly adept at explaining complex psychological concepts and brain functionality using easy-to-understand metaphors. As an anxiety prone ...more
Laurie Allin
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I got a few good nuggets out of this book that I believe I can put to good use. This book was funny in spots, too technical (for me) in spots, and others just didn't seem to apply to me....what do you know? I'm not as screwed up as I thought. There seemed to be a lot on whys my head is f*cked up about racing, but a bit short on hows to fix it. For a self-help book probably on par, or a bit better, from most of that I've read from a readability point of view: meaning that in general it was a ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Based entirely in brain science, this book made complete sense to me. The premise of changing your thinking can easily be translated to other parts of life as well. The Chimp vs. The Professor is something I'll keep coming back to as my usual habits rear their head.
At times the conversational tone of the book got on my nerves but I also see that this style of writing was needed to deliver all this info in a way that would keep a person reading. It's a dense read.
Neil Gaudet
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a unique book in the sports psychology genre. They wrap it up nicely by reminding us that no matter how many self help books we read we still need to earn it. Change is hard. Im always searching for ways to toughen up as an athlete and they have a chapter on that very subject. I feel itll be an easy book to refer back to as mental roadblocks appear. Its very practical, easy to read and gives specific suggestions throughout. ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review is for the audio book. I had to speed up the pace because I felt like they were talking slower to make the book longer. Their narration was fantastic otherwise. They end it with stating it's their first book, and it shows, but the motivation and humor is great. I will likely breeze through it again before my next Ironman or A race to remind me to calm the **** down. It's great for all athletes and those who want to be.
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really should have read this at the height of my running/racing years. Since I had really accomplished most of my physical goals before reading this, I found the sports psychology of this book most interesting. So much of the advice translates to life outside of sports. I even found much of the psychology related to recent social events and the human tendency to respond first emotionally to life events and politics before letting the rational brain kick in fascinating and very relevant.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An effective look at mental issues athletes face. Filled with many good techniques, methods and suggestions for how to deal with these issues and improve. A very good book. I listened to the audio version which is read by the authors. They do a good job of reading.

I was fine with the authors sense of humor. I didnt care for the frequent use of the f-word. The analysis and suggesting are very good.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took until Chapter 15 for me to get what I was hoping for: new insights into psychological athletic performance. Marshall and Patterson make a striking distinction between mental focus and attentional control and build a wonderful analogy to explain how it works. In fact, the entire book is filled with informative science made relatable by sensible analogies...and cursing.
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