The Run Down: How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald

After some mental meltdowns last year during some of my races, it made me realize that my mental game or “mental fitness” as Matt refers to it in his book, needed some work. I’ve always known that running is at least 50% mental (arguably more), particularly in the longer distances, yet I’ve never put much work into it during my training. Yes I’ve used mantra’s and visualization, but I can’t say I’ve truly worked on it, and since I’d heard a lot of praise about the book from fellow runner friends, I decided to pick it up. I can definitely tell you it lived up to the hype!how-bad-do-you-want-it

The Run-down: The main idea that Matt talks about in the book is his term “mental fitness”, which he describes as a collection of coping skills- behaviours, thoughts and emotions- that help athletes master the discomfort and stress of competition. The main idea being that we are all driven by something different and that no one strategy of mental training, just like physical training, can be used for every person. He uses each of the 12 chapters in the book to illustrate different types of mental strength by telling the stories of a variety of different athletes and how they came to develop their own personal mental fitness. I think this is what makes the book such a good read, the story telling and the inspiration behind each athlete he uses.

What I got out of it: I think the main thing I wanted to get out of the book were tools and strategies to use during my races and training; but I think what the book made me do is see where I’ve gone wrong in the past and how to prevent it in the future. For example, in chapter 2 he talks about “bracing yourself for competition” and not looking past it to the future. I’ve definitely been guilty of overlooking the present and instead looking too far ahead to what’s coming next, which he describes as failing to prepare for it to hurt and “not being on top of your suffering”. He goes on to describe how this mentally leaves the door open for you to be overwhelmed by the difficulty and sometimes pain of it all, which I can say 100% happened to me at the Finlayson Arm 50k last year.cropped-img_0008.jpg

The other thing I got out of reading the book was the questions I’d never thought to ask myself before, like: WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO ME? WHO AM I DOING THIS FOR? The questions that come to mind when you’re in the pain cave and you want to quit. I would have thought I knew why if you’d asked me before, but when I really stopped to think about it, I don’t think BECAUSE I DO is a very compelling answer when you’re whole body is screaming STOP. These are the types of tools I’m hoping will make me a stronger runner this year.

Why you should read it and when: Obviously you should read it if you compete in any form of endurances races; but I would say no matter what distance you run {ride or swim}, this book would be a huge help! Even if you’ve never experienced the effects of a full mental breakdown during a race, read it for mental protection…because trust me, it’s not pretty!

So that’s the why, what about the when? I think the best time would be when you’re training for a goal race, that’s what I did and I’ve found it really helpful to try out the different tips he uses in the book during the training, as well as to work out the kinks before race day!img_5068

So there’s my two-cents on the book, I hope you like it as much as I did!!

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34 thoughts on “The Run Down: How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald

  1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I just picked up running and am training for my 1st half (Zion Half) in April and full marathon (Utah Valley) in June. I’m 44 years old and running is teaching me lessons I wished I’d learned in my 20’s.

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  2. Thanks for this post & book rec! I recently started training for my first ultra and could definitely use some tips on mental toughness and mind over matter! 🙂

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  3. Needing run inspiration; I’ve completed nine half marathons but still don’t feel that I’ve done my best. Thank you for sharing this recommendation.

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  4. Thank you for such a great, helpful review! This book sounds awesome. I am training for my first half and think it would be very helpful, as my mental fitness – or lack thereof – is something I worry/wonder about a lot. Thank you for offering this giveaway!

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  5. Great review of the book! I think we often forget to train mentally along with physical prep. Looking forward to reading it! (@lbakermakeup)

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  6. Great recap!! I’ve always said running is 90% mental and 90% physical, and that math only makes sense if you’re a runner. I love this book and have recommended it to so many people. I read it during taper for my marathon as mental training since physical training was winding down. Worked like a charm!

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