First of all, huge thanks to everyone who read and commented during our first book in the Athletic Bookworms Book Club, “The Brave Athlete.” I really enjoyed this book a ton—though I admit, I had moments where I wished I’d picked something a little more bite-sized for our first Club. I know a lot of you didn’t get the whole way through it, and that’s because the book is actually freaking MASSIVE because it is so, so packed with information. It’s an awesome read—but there was almost too much for us to talk about.
Before we started, I was lucky enough to interview the co-author Simon Marshall for an article I was working on all about failure as an athlete and secrets to moving past it. (We write what’s interesting to us, I suppose!). Personal favorite line from him: “You had a bad run. That doesn’t mean that you as a person are a failure.”
So, I had his voice in my head as I started reading the book itself. And while it took me a while to read it, that was because it gave me SO damn much to think about, and so much ‘homework’ between sections. I started realizing all of these stories that I was building around my training, and around my identity as an athlete. I started thinking about my various goals, and how they did or didn’t make sense to my life where it is now. From a coaching perspective, it gave me a ton of tools to start using with my athletes, and tools that I could use internally to better relate to them.
One major realization for me was in my own definition of myself as an athlete. I wrote about it in the comments of the original book club post, but to quickly re-iterate.. I have a hard time identifying as an athlete since I’m married to a pro, manage a pro team, coach elite juniors at camps, and interview the best riders in the world. So, by comparison, I’m just not that pro, or that fast. But comparisons are dumb. I have plenty of my own palmares, both in terms of actual results and in terms of personal victories. I can run for hours and not be wrecked the next day. I can show up for a cyclocross practice and hold my own, despite not having raced in two years. I can deadlift 1.5x my body weight. Yeah, I’m a freaking athlete.
So, re-learning to identify as one—and that it’s OK to identify as one—was really interesting, and the book helped get me there. While it got into the weeds with some intense science-oriented stuff at times, that just made me feel a lot better about reading it. All too often, self-development books maybe touch on a study or two, but mostly rely on anecdotes and the ‘expert’ voice of the author (often sans any real credentials). But having all of the nitty-gritty stuff laid out? Awesome—even if you skimmed the super techy bits of it instead of reading it fully. I also loved the irreverent tone towards the psychology, the jokes and some of the more conversational bits. Even though it was backed by research, it was still one of the more fun self-help books I’ve read this year.
Ultimately, I love reading books about goal-setting, habits, and generally becoming a stronger, better version of myself. This was no exception, and a lot of what they talk about—from coping with stress and pressure to resilience to self-identification—really can be used beyond just talking about sports.
Even if you missed reading it in this book club, I highly recommend checking it out. (Available on Amazon here.)
For the Athletic Bookworms out there: I’ll have a poll up for our next book later this week, so if you have any nominations, add them in the comments here!