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Book Club

Welcome to the Chaski Book Club. Your home for reading books about and/or in the context of endurance sport. 

 

We read a new book each month, with weekly discussion prompts as well as space for open conversation. You can join the conversation in our Chaski Book Club Facebook Group. 

 

April's Pick

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May's pick is: “How Bad Do You Want It?": Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald
 

The greatest athletic performances spring from the mind, not the body.
 

Elite athletes have known this for decades and now science is learning why it’s true. In his fascinating new book How Bad Do You Want It?, coach Matt Fitzgerald examines more than a dozen pivotal races to discover the surprising ways elite athletes strengthen their mental toughness.
 

Fitzgerald puts you into the pulse-pounding action of more than a dozen epic races from running, cycling, triathlon, XTERRA, and rowing with thrilling race reports and revealing post-race interviews with the elites. Their own words reinforce what the research has found: strong mental fitness lets us approach our true physical limits, giving us an edge over physically stronger competitors. Each chapter explores the how and why of an elite athlete’s transformative moment, revealing powerful new psychobiological principles you can practice to flex your own mental fitness.
 

The new psychobiological model of endurance performance shows that the most important question in endurance sports is: how bad do you want it? Fitzgerald’s fascinating book will forever change how you answer this question and show you how to master the psychology of mind over muscle. These lessons will help you push back your limits and uncover your full potential.


How Bad Do You Want It? reveals new psychobiological findings including:

  • Mental toughness determines how close you can get to your physical limit.

  • Bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

  • Champions have learned how to give more of what they have.

  • The only way to improve performance is by altering how you perceive effort.

  • Choking under pressure is a form of self-consciousness.

  • Your attitude in daily life is the same one you bring to sports.

  • There's no such thing as going as fast as you can—only going faster than before.

  • The fastest racecourse is the one with the loudest spectators.

  • Faith in your training is as important as the training itself.


Athletes featured in How Bad Do You Want It?: Sammy Wanjiru, Jenny Simpson, Greg LeMond, Siri Lindley, Willie Stewart, Cadel Evans, Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan, Paula Newby-Fraser, Ryan Vail, Thomas Voeckler, Ned Overend, Steve Prefontaine, and last of all John “The Penguin” Bingham


Want to be involved in the discussion? Join us here

Do you have ideas for our next book? Let us know! DM us on our IG account at @ChaskiBookClub or message us on our Chaski Book Club Facebook Group.

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This Week's Conversation

Early exercise physiologists postulated the human body as a machine and theorized that the athlete with the perfect vitals would be able to run the perfect race. Oxygen intake is one attribute they believe which had a direct influence on an athlete’s abilities. During training, athletes can measure their maximum oxygen intake through their "VO2max"--the equivalent of the body’s horsepower. The more oxygen a person can take in (the bigger their engine is), and circulate through their body, the better they’ll perform – especially in endurance sports. An athlete can improve their VO2 max efficiency by running intervals for 2-3 minutes at their “VO2 Max” pace (which is a pace a moderately fit person can sustain for roughly 6 to 8 minutes).

Training at your VO2 max and lactate threshold paces, building muscle strength, improving lung capacity and other factors all contribute to your endurance. They improve your vitals - however they also teach you how to better endure pain. The original theory was that the athlete with the best vitals would be able to break the 4 minute mile. "Endure" lays out numerous examples that these factors, while important, are not the full picture. Early research continues to be challenged. We see this in the hour ride and in Nike's infamous quest to break the 2 hour marathon.

Is an individual’s physical limit set by their body or their brain? Highly skilled athletes feel pain, but it is their pain tolerance, their ability to endure and push through that pain that allows them to go further than others.

What have you found most interesting about Hutchinson's research?

 

What tactics do you use to push through the pain and continue on?

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