Hi everyone! Welcome back to another week of Runs on Espresso. Grab your favorite coffee-based beverage and settle in. Today’s podcast is going to be a look at the book that called me out for my bullshit. This book was recommended to me by another runner when I asked for books to help get over the I can’t run farther than 18-20 miles hump. I mentioned it to my local OIselle group and we decided to form a book club and read it together. We read each section then had a virtual meeting to discuss it.
The book is The Brave Athlete Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson. If you decide to read it I would suggest purchasing the physical book, not an ebook. There’s a lot of illustrations and exercises that work better with a physical book. I would also suggest doing the exercises in a separate notebook. You may want to do some of these exercises later or redo them. I also don’t write in books so that’s how I did it but I think I will try to review the book annually and redo some exercises as needed.
The book is divided into four sections: The Basics, Heart, Wings, and Fight. Each section has several chapters. I’ll go over the general idea from each section and pull some things that I really stuck out to me.
The first section gets into how our brains work. Of course, I learned this a million years ago in school but haven’t really thought about it since. The main thing I gained from this is my chimp brain is more in charge than I’d like to admit. This section is really short so not much to say but the idea is to remind you the chimp is in charge, not you, but you can learn to help manage him or her.
This section gets into how you think about yourself. The first thing that really stuck out to me was I want to be a mature athlete not a strong athlete. A mature athlete is someone that is fully grown, confident, content and seeks healthy competition. A mature athlete deals with injuries and doesn’t struggle when they can’t train.
Reading this section and I realized I fall into the volatile identity. I sometimes have no issues seeing myself as an athlete and others I have no idea why I think I could call myself an athlete. I constantly struggle with this. I need to work on my consistency in my training and goal setting. I think sometimes I set too high of expectations for myself and fall short. When that happens I stop training. Point taken book, point taken.
A quote that stuck out to me was:
The thoughts and feelings you experience are not actually you at all because you are a chess player, not a chess piece. You experience your thoughts but you are not actually them. You are the carrying container of the experience; you are not the experience itself.
Wow. I need the reminder to separate myself from my thoughts and feelings.
The other big part of this section that stuck out to me was around self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. I always lumped all of these together as one thing but it turns out they are all a little different. They are more like steps. I always thought I had pretty healthy self-esteem and self-confidence so I didn’t know why I struggled to complete a marathon. Well, it turns out my biggest issue is self-efficacy or the belief that you can perform a specific task at a certain level. My self-confidence, beliefs about your general abilities, also comes and goes. So those are definitely areas I need to work on.
Let’s take a quick break for a word from my sponsor.
The third section is Wings and it’s all about validation, injuries and other body image. I marked a main point in validation. It’s discussing comparison and how we all do it. It doesn’t matter what you try to tell yourself, comparison is biology. We should accept we will compare and use it to become happier, faster, and grittier instead of envious and resentful. It’s a great reminder. We can’t escape comparing ourselves to others but use that power for good and not evil. The chapter also digs into social media. I won’t get into too much detail but remember, social media is everyone’s A roll. Behind the glossy veneer, they may be struggling just as much as you.
The next part covers body image and food. I definitely need to work on my body image. I have a little extra weight but I’m overall healthy. It’s hard though when squeezing yourself into tight workout clothes to not think you’re fat. Before even reading the book I was working on my self talk. This part also talks a little about disordered eating. I read through that part and it didn’t apply to me. It was interesting to read though.
Next it covers injuries. Outside of my broken leg a year ago I haven’t really dealt with many injuries. The only other thing I could think of was when I had vocal cord dysfunction. It caused me to get vertigo like symptoms when running. Once I figured the problem out, some medication and breathing exercises helped. When I asked some runners what topics they’d want to hear about injuries was a big one. I know many runners struggle when they can’t run. The biggest takeaway for me was to focus on staying healthy. To not overtrain and make sure I do exercises that will help me stay injury free.
Lastly it covered exercise dependency. I definitely do not suffer from this. I could totally spend all day lazing around on the couch. I can see where it can become a fine line and one could easily fall into it.
The last section is one I will keep coming back to over and over. It’s really the areas I need the most work on. The first area is about fear and comfort zones. I definitely struggle with trying new things and going outside of my comfort zone. Every time I’ve tried a new distance I freak out a little bit. I wonder if i can do it. Hell, even on my long runs I wonder if I can do distances I’ve done before.
Then the book goes into when we mentally throw in the towel. It called me out. As I said before I am a shit quitter. I do have a few legit quits but most of the time I shit quit because it seems hard. Or I’m tired. My excuse du jour.
Then we talk about embracing the suck. Yup, that’s me. I don’t like running in the summer because it’s hot. I do this every summer. I start off strong, not letting it bother me but by August I can’t deal with it anymore and I quit for a few weeks. The authors give several ways to cope. I need to review and implement them.
The concentration part was interesting. I never thought of that as an issue for me. I learned my focus is very internal and broad. Which means I am good at analyzing and planning. I am horrible at doing. I question my training. I question if I did everything I could for the race.
The very last section covers pressure and stress. Ugh, I’m always stressed and anxious. Reading through the chapter I understood I am not under pressure. I’m not a professional. My performance affects no one but me. I do tend to overthink things and get stressed. Besides coffee I run on stress and anxiety. This is another chapter I need to review and work on the strategies given.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I find it incredibly helpful and eye opening. I’ve got pages marked and I know which sections I need ro review over and over again. I plan to keep the notebook I did the exercises in with the book. I can review and redo the exercises and see if I’ve made progress.
Tell me, have you read this book? What did you think about it? I’ve read a lot of running books but I’d love to hear your favorites! Let me know what they are!
Update to episode 3 and SMART goals…
I’ve reached the point in the summer where I always want to throw in the towel due to the heat. This happens every August. I’m rethinking if I want to run a 50k in November because I’m struggling to get long runs in. I may start training later and run in January or February. It’s also made me think, why do I want to run a 50k? Do I really want to run it? And honestly, I can’t answer those questions.
Several years ago after I had done quite a few half marathons. I set my sites on the marathon because it seemed like the next logical step and I really wanted to do it. I trained so hard but got so sick a week or two before the marathon. It was devastating. A lot has happened since that first time, both athletically and personally.
I never thought I bought into the youre not a real runner until you run a marathon but then I wonder why I keep trying to run farther when it’s never worked out before. So maybe deep down I feel to prove myself as a real runner until I do a marathon or ultra. But is it really what I want to do? I don’t know. I love running but I also like doing other workouts and marathon training takes away from other activities. And it’s such a big time investment. Am I questioning this because it’s outside my comfort zone? I don’t know.
So here I am, again, wondering what should I do next? I’m not sure I want to run a 50k. I’m not sure I want to spend 5-6 hours running. But I’m not sure that I don’t. So for now, I guess I keep on running and thinking on what I really want from running, besides a mental health treatment and weight management program.
What do you think? Should I give up or set aside the ultra goal?
And now, coffee corner. This weekend was my 40th birthday. It’s a strange time to celebrate a milestone birthday. I took off Friday and Monday. It’s nice having a couple of extra days off. I’ve been working from home so it’s not all that different to be home but I get to do other things. I got a lot accomplished but of course I also took some time to relax. Sometimes we just need to take some time to ourselves to refresh and reset.
You can find me on instagram at runs_on_espresso, twitter at runsonespresso or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find my blog at runsonespresso.com and my redbubble shop is Runs on Espresso.
Until next week, I hope your runs are as strong as your coffee.