Mental Toughness

What Are You Afraid Of?

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 8, 2023 / 0 Comments

I have a vivid memory of sitting in trigonometry class on a Thursday afternoon in the fall of my junior year of high school, sick with fear. I mean this literally. The fear was centered in my stomach, agitating my recently eaten lunch with such violence that I felt queasy. It wasn’t, I should say, […]

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Separating Want from Need in Training and Racing

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 1, 2023 / 0 Comments

You want perfect weather conditions for your half-marathon PR attempt on Sunday. But do you actually need perfect weather conditions? You want to beat your average pace from your last tempo run in today’s tempo run. But do you really need to beat it? You want to avoid niggles and minor illnesses in the remaining […]

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Curiosity Killed the Competition

By Matt Fitzgerald / March 7, 2023 / 0 Comments

At a recent Endeavorun retreat in San Diego, Jake Tuber and I made a list of key traits of effective coaches. This was not an arbitrary exercise. Jake and I are in the early stages of collaborating on a book about coaching, and we’re trying to nail down our shared beliefs and convictions about the […]

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If it's not hard, it's not hard enough.

If It’s Not Hard, It’s Not Hard Enough

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 7, 2023 / 0 Comments

Every time a television advertisement talks about “making life easier”—and there are many, many such advs—I feel a pitch of annoyance. Of course, I understand why the phrase is used so liberally in messages intended to make people buy things. Commercial products and services often do make certain parts of life (fixing dinner, getting stains […]

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The Ultimate Athlete Superpower

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 20, 2023 / 0 Comments

If you could choose one athletic superpower to exploit in your future training and racing, what would it be? Here’s the rule: Your superpower has to be a natural human trait that actually exists in some athletes, not a magical attribute like Pogo Feet or Turbo Mode. Potent, yet real. If I were I to […]

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How to Build Self-Trust As an Athlete (and Why It’s Important)

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 12, 2023 / 0 Comments

I coach a runner who wants to break 1:30:00 in the half marathon. We’d been working together for about two and a half months when she took her first crack at it. I was 95 percent confident that Jody (not her real name) was fit enough to run under 1:31:00, but only 10 percent confident […]

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The Chased-by-a-Bear Analogy of Mental Fitness

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 21, 2022 / 0 Comments

There are dozens of different versions of the two-friends-chased-by-a-bear joke. Here’s the version told by Matt Blumberg in the October 11, 2011 edition of Business Insider: Two friends are in the woods, having a picnic. They spot a bear running at them. One friend gets up and starts running away from the bear. The other […]

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Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 15, 2022 / 0 Comments

The two strongest individual predictors of health, wealth, happiness, and staying out of prison are intelligence and self-regulatory ability. This fact has caused some psychologists to ask whether self-regulatory ability isn’t just a manifestation of intelligence, but recent research has succeeded in demonstrating that the two phenomena are distinct. Whereas intelligence equates to what is […]

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The Results of the 80/20 Endurance Pacing Challenge Are In!

By Matt Fitzgerald / September 20, 2022 / 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, I invited readers of this blog to participate in what I chose to call the 80/20 Endurance Pacing Challenge. Here are the instructions I gave: First, determine your average pace per mile or per kilometer in your last half marathon. Next, go for a run. After warming up, run one mile or […]

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Advancing in Another Direction: The Difference Between Retreat and Defeat

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 20, 2022 / 0 Comments

In late November 1950, at the height of the Korean War, United Nations troops under the command of Major General Oliver Smith were encircled and attacked near the Chosin Reservoir by a vastly larger Chinese force. Facing total annihilation if they tried to hold their ground, Smith’s men instead executed a fighting withdrawal, puncturing the […]

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In Defense of Not Crying

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 25, 2022 / 0 Comments

When I was fourteen years old I suffered a catastrophic knee injury during a soccer game. I didn’t even know what an ACL was until the orthopedic surgeon who patched me up (sounding more impressed than sympathetic) explained that I had torn mine clean off the bone. What I did know, well before I received […]

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Advice for Aging Athletes: Assume Nothing

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 11, 2022 / 0 Comments

On January, 22, 2020, five days after thirty-eight year old Sara Hall set a new American record of 1:07:15 for the half marathon, Women’s Running magazine published an article titled “Sara Hall Shares 7 Keys to Her Longevity of Excellence.” For your convenience, I have copied the article’s section headings, which neatly summarize Hall’s secrets, […]

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How to Impress Your Coach

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 13, 2021 / 0 Comments

I once coached a runner who had a strong desire to impress me. Every now and then during our weekly FaceTime catchups he would ask me, in reference to a recent strong workout performance, “Were you impressed?” or else he would say, in reference to a recent workout in which he had overreached and blown […]

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The Trouble with Troubleshooting

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 27, 2021 / 0 Comments

Fifty years ago, a runner who had been doing all of his recent training before the sun rose shifted to a new schedule that had him running later in the morning. To his surprise, his first several daylight runs felt harder than normal, and it took him longer to complete his usual routes. (This was […]

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How to Never Have a Disappointing Race

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 15, 2021 / 0 Comments

On October 12, 2020, two days after she finished third in the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:27:19, American professional runner Sara Hall posted the following message on Twitter: “Committed 100% to the goal. Suffered through my best training I’ve ever done. Showed up healthy, excited, confident. Executed the plan. Fought [till] the end. […]

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Watching Others Run

What If There Is No Finish Line?

By Matt Fitzgerald / October 6, 2021 / 0 Comments

How helpful are athletic coping skills really in helping us deal with life adversity? One year ago today—on October 6, 2020—I had a bad run. It was the type of run I would have really enjoyed had I been on my game: 6 x 1,000 meters at one-mile race pace on a minute’s rest. I […]

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Relationship Counseling for Athletes and Their Devices

By Matt Fitzgerald / October 4, 2021 / 0 Comments

In any relationship, disagreements are bound to occur. These moments of friction are not limited to differences of opinion, such as whether dogs are better than cats or vice versa, but may also include discrepancies in how reality is perceived. Perhaps you and your spouse disagree on whether aliens walk among us in human disguise, […]

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What Does It Mean to Be an Injury-Prone Runner?

By Matt Fitzgerald / September 20, 2021 / 0 Comments

I’ve always considered myself an injury-prone runner. I used to half-jokingly say that I had suffered more running-related injuries than any runner my age in the history of running, and it wouldn’t shock me if this turned out to be true. Between the ages of 28 and 48 I picked up no fewer than four […]

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Screw Loose, Sh*t Together: A Theory of Athletic Greatness

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 23, 2021 / 0 Comments

I have a theory about athletic greatness, or more specifically, about what it takes to achieve greatness as an athlete. It’s quite simple. There are two mental traits that I see again and again in athletes of the highest caliber. One is a drive toward greatness that has the untamable ferocity of a full-blown disorder. […]

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Do Big Workouts Make You Nervous?

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 16, 2021 / 0 Comments

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten nervous before a big workout. Whoa, that’s a lot of hands! I guess it’s a universal experience. Here’s another question: Why do big workouts make you nervous? Chances are it’s for one of two reasons: Either you fear the suffering you anticipate experiencing during the workout or you […]

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Do You Suffer from Workout Myopia?

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 27, 2021 / 0 Comments

German-born Canadian spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now has sold more than three million copies. I know this because it says so right on the cover. In the book, Tolle encourages readers to “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” If this advice sounds familiar, it’s because it is. […]

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athlete runner doing YOU training

On the Importance of “Doing You” As an Athlete

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 11, 2021 / 0 Comments

Every once in a while a podcast host will ask me to name my favorite writer or to recommend a book to listeners. It’s always an awkward moment for me because it all but forces me to admit that I don’t read many books about endurance sports. Almost none, in fact. To be clear, I […]

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Optimism Is Overrated

By Matt Fitzgerald / June 20, 2021 / 0 Comments

When things aren’t going your way in a race or during a training block, it is helpful to remind yourself how much worse things could be. A lot of athletes who engage in this mental exercise choose prisoners of war specifically for such perspective-shifting comparisons—folks like Admiral James Stockdale, the U.S. Navy Admiral who spent […]

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mental health awareness month banner

When I’m Not Okay, I Tell Everybody. Here’s What That Gets Me.

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 10, 2021 / 0 Comments

Recently I received an unexpected phone call from Travis Macy. If the name is familiar, it’s because you know Travis as an inveterate ultrarunner and adventure racer and author of The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life. I know Travis only slightly beyond this thumbnail bio. […]

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Knowledge < Understanding

Knowledge Is Good. Understanding Is Better.

By Matt Fitzgerald / April 18, 2021 / 0 Comments

Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding.–Proverbs 4:7 The best teacher I ever had was Mark Gould, a sociology professor at Haverford College. I’ll never forget the first meeting of his Foundations of Social Theory class in the fall of 1989. The bearded professor (whose sundry idiosyncrasies […]

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The Trouble with Mental Toughness

By David Warden / March 6, 2021 / 0 Comments

At the February 1982 Ironman World Championship, Julie Moss had a comfortable lead with less than 2 miles remaining. Then her body began to shut down. Staggering and crawling, she dragged herself across the finish line, and into endurance sports lore. The broadcast of Moss’ determination on ABC’s Wide World of Sports has motivated thousands […]

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Henry David Thoreau

That Coach Is Best Who Coaches Least

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 28, 2021 / 0 Comments

In his classic political manifesto Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau writes, “That government is best which governs least.” It’s an interesting idea. Thoreau does here not deny that government serves a necessary function, but he does contend that it performs this function best when it does the bare minimum for the citizens it serves and […]

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No Hope

Improve Your Mental Game with the One-Month “No Hope” Challenge!

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 21, 2021 / 0 Comments

I once coached a runner, let’s call him Kevin, who used the word “easy” more often than any athlete other I’ve ever worked with. It was like some kind of verbal tic. He deployed the adjective at least once in almost every post-run comment he left on his online training calendar. Granted, “easy” has some […]

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Matt Laughing all the way to finish line

Laughing All the Way to the Finish Line

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 15, 2021 / 0 Comments

Dear Dr. Young, The good news is I have heart disease . . . These are the actual first words of an email message I sent to my primary care physician a couple of weeks ago. I had just undergone an angiogram to determine the source of an abnormality seen in my EKG reading during […]

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David Krakauer

May the Smartest Runner Win

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 16, 2021 / 0 Comments

A few years ago, New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds penned an interesting article titled “Running as the Thinking Person’s Sport.” It focused on a then-recent study by neuroscientists at the University of Arizona in which it was shown that high-level distance runners had significantly higher levels of connectivity in certain parts of the brain […]

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Callum Hawkins mental fitness

Is Mental Fitness Innate?

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 4, 2021 / 0 Comments

Callum Hawkins came into the 2018 Commonwealth Games Marathon in Australia with high expectations. Having set a national record of 1:00:00 for the half marathon and finished fourth in the World Championship Marathon the prior year, the 25-year-old Scotsman was supremely confident in his ability to claim a gold medal for his small, proud country. […]

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Atlanta Marathon in 2020

2020 Was a Good Year

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 31, 2020 / 0 Comments

It’s hard to believe it was this year—January 21st, 2020, to be exact—that my mom came to stay with my wife, Nataki, and me. She has Alzheimer’s disease (my mom, not my wife) and had deteriorated to the point where my dad was no longer able to care for her on his own. I couldn’t […]

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ghost fitness

A Fitness Carol

By David Warden / December 20, 2020 / 0 Comments

This evening you will be visited by three sprits: the Ghost of Fitness Past, the Ghost Fitness Present and the Ghost of Fitness Yet to Come. Let’s face it, you need this intervention. COVID, politics, and the death of Eddie Van Halen left you reeling in 2020. A spiral of event cancellations and doom-scrolling transformed […]

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Why You Should Treat Negative Emotions Like Pain

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 19, 2020 / 0 Comments

Try not to react merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view. Compose yourself. –Epictetus Have you seen that television commercial for Advil, the one targeting active folks like us, with the tagline, “When pain says you can’t Advil says you can”? This slogan encapsulates everything that is wrong about […]

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In It for the Long Haul

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 1, 2020 / 0 Comments

In December 2011, Manhattan-based psychologist Bob Bergeron put the finishing touches on a book titled The Right Side of Forty: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond. To mark the occasion, he posted the following cheerful announcement on his website: “I’ve got a concise picture of what being over forty […]

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challenge of an endurance athlete

The Solution to Every Type of Challenge an Endurance Athlete Might Face Can Be Summarized in Two Words: Get Real

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 22, 2020 / 0 Comments

Sports comebacks come in infinite varieties. They range in nature from falling down during a race, getting back up, and winning despite the mishap to going off the rails with alcohol or drug abuse, cleaning up, and subsequently attaining new heights of performance. Underneath all of this apparent variety, however, lies a consistent pattern, which […]

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Good and Bad perfectionism

Good Perfectionism and Bad Perfectionism

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 7, 2020 / 0 Comments

Is perfectionism a good thing or a bad thing? If you Google the word and browse through the results, you’ll come away with two different impressions of perfectionism: It’s bad It’s complicated When I conducted this search myself just now, the top results included a 2018 BBC article titled “The Dangerous Downsides of Perfectionism” (“It’s […]

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It just doesn't matter meme

It Just Doesn’t Matter

By Matt Fitzgerald / October 12, 2020 / 0 Comments

I belong to a generation whose every member has seen the movie Meatballs. Among its most famous scenes is the one where Camp North Star head counselor Tripper Harrison (played by Bill Murray) delivers a fiery motivational speech to his young charges on the eve of North Star’s annual beatdown at the hands of rival Camp […]

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How sex can make you better runner

How Sex Can Make You a Better Runner

By Matt Fitzgerald / October 5, 2020 / 0 Comments

Let me start with an apology. This post is not about sex. It’s actually about hermeneutics, or the discipline of textual interpretation, as it applies to endurance training. I knew that if I promoted a post about hermeneutics on social media, no one would read it, so I deliberately mislead you. Dastardly, I know, and […]

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Tommy Hughes in his 50s running for a 5k marathon

Fifty Is the New Whatever

By Matt Fitzgerald / September 19, 2020 / 0 Comments

The 2020 Antrim Coast Half Marathon was exceptional simply by virtue of happening. It was one of the first sizeable road running events to take place after the COVID-19 pandemic swept the planet. But the race became even more exceptional when 60-year-old Irishman Tommy Hughes crossed the finish line in 1:11:09, smashing the age-group world […]

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Jamie Whitmore after injury

Repeat After Me: “I’m Injured and I Couldn’t Care Less”

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 17, 2020 / 0 Comments

Currently I’m reviewing the copyedited manuscript of my forthcoming book The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life, which is available for preorder. (Subtle, eh?) Chapter 6 tells the remarkable story of Jamie Whitmore, a dominant professional off-road triathlete in the 2000’s who later overcame a Jobian cancer ordeal […]

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Kyle Merber and his routine

Got a Comfortable Training Routine? Good—Change It!

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 10, 2020 / 0 Comments

Leon Fleisher died recently. Man, what a life! Born in San Francisco in 1928 to Jewish immigrants, he started playing the piano at age four, and by nine he was proficient enough to become a student of renowned teacher Artur Schnabel. At 16, Fleisher made his Carnegie Hall debut, and by his mid-20s he was […]

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not caring what others think

As an Athlete, Should You Care What Others Think? (Hint: All One-Word Answers to This Question Are Wrong)

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 3, 2020 / 0 Comments

In March 2017, I gave a talk at Run Flagstaff, a running specialty store located in the city whose name it carries. During the talk, I mentioned an occasion when I got to hang out with 2:19 marathoner Yoko Shibui and her teammates on the Mitsui-Sumitomo women’s professional running team in boulder, Colorado. “Are there […]

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Calvanism by John Calvin

Are You a Chosen One?

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 27, 2020 / 0 Comments

This article is about endurance sports, I promise. It’s just going to take a minute to get there. Are you familiar with Calvinist doctrine? At its heart is the concept of predestination. Calvinists believe that, at the beginning of time, God selected a limited number of souls to grant salvation and there’s nothing any individual […]

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Caroline Rotich, Me, Ryan Bolton, Patrick Smyth for Creative Goal Setting

Creative Goal Setting

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 19, 2020 / 0 Comments

Recently I received a text message from Matt Chittim, host of the Rambling Runner podcast. In it, he informed me that he is several months away from turning 40 years old and he wants to mark the occasion by pursuing the goal of breaking 40 minutes for 10K. His purpose in texting me was to […]

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Shelby Houlihan discovering process focus

Rediscovering a Process Focus

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 13, 2020 / 0 Comments

There’s a runner I coach, we’ll call him Jeremy, who’s concerned about his weight. It’s not that he’s overweight and worried about developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Rather, Jeremy is light and lean but just not quite as light and lean as the elite trail runners whose ranks he aspires to join—and it […]

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Mat Fitzgerald Running in High School

Pressure Is a Double-Edge Sword

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 5, 2020 / 0 Comments

In 2015, economists Daniel Hickman and Neil Metz conducted an interesting study on the effect of pressure on performance in professional golfers. Data from the final hole of PGA tournaments taking place between 2004 and 2012 was analyzed to determine the effect of financial stakes—specifically how much money was riding on draining a putt—on performance. […]

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muhammad ali and his workout experience

If One Bad Workout Lowers Your Confidence Level, You Weren’t Confident in the First Place

By Matt Fitzgerald / June 1, 2020 / 0 Comments

Confidence, which defines as “belief in oneself and one’s powers and abilities,” is critical to athletic success. We all know this. Yet we seldom pause to reflect on the nature of confidence or to think about how best to manage it. This leads to some bad assumptions about confidence—such as the notion that more […]

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David going on training for 2019 boston marathon racing

Do It Because You Suck at It: Training and Racing with a Mastery Mindset

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 25, 2020 / 0 Comments

I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2009. Although I came into the race super fit, having just lowered my half-marathon PB, I knew within 12 miles that I was in for yet another long and disappointing day at the 26-mile, 385-yard distance. At 16 miles, I saw my family, who, at great inconvenience to […]

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FIS Tour De Ski Women Stage

How Champions Return from Setbacks (Like, Say, Missing a Month of Training Due to Coronavirus)

By Matt Fitzgerald / April 13, 2020 / 0 Comments

Currently I’m working on a book called The Comeback Quotient, in which I attempt to answer a very simple question: What is it that enables some athletes to overcome major setbacks and make the very best of the very worst situations? The answer I offer will surprise many. Comebacks come in infinite varieties, but the one […]

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exercising while at home

Four Ways Endurance Athletes Can Turn the Negative of Social Distancing into a Positive

By Matt Fitzgerald / April 6, 2020 / 0 Comments

There’s a moment in the film It Might Get Loud, a 2008 documentary centered on guitar heroes Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White, that has stuck with me over the years. It’s the part where Jack is discussing the rationale behind his minimalist musical style, and in so many words he explains that making things […]

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kenyan runner athlete

Now Is the Time for All Runners to Channel Their Inner Kenyan

By Matt Fitzgerald / March 30, 2020 / 0 Comments

Runners are goal-oriented by nature. It goes without saying that the pursuit of goals requires planning and a certain degree of control. It’s difficult to pursue the goal of, say, lowering your half-marathon PB if you don’t have a specific half-marathon event on your calendar and if it’s beyond your power to put one there. […]

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Matt Fitzgerald running angrily in a marathon

The Joy of Running Angry

By Matt Fitzgerald / March 2, 2020 / 0 Comments

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Graem Sims’s excellent biography of Percy Cerutty, Why Die? One of the things I like about it is how liberally it quotes from Cerutty’s writings, which are of mixed, yet surprisingly high, quality. I’ve highlighted a number of passages, including this gem: “To race superlatively I hold that one has to […]

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On the Importance of Starting Endurance Races with a Full Emotional Fuel Tank: My Black Canyon 100K Postmortem

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 17, 2020 / 0 Comments

During my flight from Oakland to Phoenix last Friday, a mantra for the following day’s Black Canyon 100K trail run came to me: Stay positive. I realized instantly that it was the perfect choice for the occasion because it made me feel more relaxed about the looming challenge.  I don’t really get anxious before big races […]

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The Power of Low Expectations

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 10, 2020 / 0 Comments

As I write this, I’m just over a week out from the Black Canyon 100K, the longest running race I’ve ever attempted. My previous longest was a 50-miler that just about killed me. It’s fair to say that ultramarathons in general are not my strength. I think it’s because I land heavy. When I run […]

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cold feet during race days

How to Deal with Race Day Cold Feet

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 20, 2020 / 0 Comments

We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of cold feet. You want something very badly until you’re on the brink of getting it, then suddenly you’re not so sure you want it anymore. Usually associated with nuptials, cold feet strike not only brides and grooms on their wedding day but also endurance athletes on race days. […]

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Endurance Racing as a Spiritual Experience

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 6, 2020 / 0 Comments

Eliud Kipchoge is known chiefly for two things: winning and breaking records. He has won eleven of the twelve marathons he’s raced (finishing second in the only one he didn’t win). In 2017, he made the first formal attempt to cover the marathon distance in less than two hours, shocking the running world by coming […]

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Overcoming Stadephobia (Fear of Distance)

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 11, 2019 / 0 Comments

Stadephobia is not a real word. I just made it up. It combines the ancient Greek words stade, which was a unit of measure used in footraces (1 stade = 180 meters), and phobia, meaning fear, and it’s my name for the phenomenon of fear of distance. In general, phobias are irrational fears of things like spiders […]

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Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries

Book Review: Rebound: Train your mind to bounce back stronger from sports injuries

By Matt Fitzgerald / October 14, 2019 / 0 Comments

Overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinosis and runner’s knee are very different from other “health problems” such as migraine and flu. Whereas the latter cause all-day physical discomfort, most overuse injuries hurt only when you try to do the specific activity that caused them. And yet they bother you just as much, don’t they? The […]

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Good Cop, Bad Cop

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 19, 2019 / 0 Comments

To train with maximal effectiveness, you have to be mean to yourself. And you also have to be kind to yourself. Every week I do two full-body functional strength workouts at a local gym. The specific exercise selection evolves over time, but there is one exercise I never fail to include among the dozen or […]

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How to Cultivate a Growth Mindset in Athletes

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 29, 2019 / 0 Comments

This week, Matt writes for the TrainingPeaks Coach blog and his article can be found here.

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Test or Stimulus? How You View Your Workouts May Say a Lot About Your Overall Mindset

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 22, 2019 / 1 Comment

I’m working on a new book on the psychology of endurance sports. It’s titled The Comeback Quotient and it’s a sort of sequel to How Bad Do You Want It? As part of my research, I’ve just read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. You may be familiar with Dweck’s work, which has been mainstreamed by a […]

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Would You Go to a Fortune Teller for Retirement Planning Advice? Then Why Do You Not Go to Trained Professionals for Sports Nutrition Guidance?

By Matt Fitzgerald / July 15, 2019 / 0 Comments

If you’re interested in the effects of diet and nutrition on endurance performance, you’ll be interested in a study that was just published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Italian researchers recruited 40 student-athletes from the University of Bergamo and separated them into four groups. Two of the groups were made up of kickboxers, […]

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Don’t Panic: My Ironman Santa Rosa Race Report

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 13, 2019 / 0 Comments

At some point during the three-hour drive I undertook with my wife, Nataki, from our home in Oakdale, California, to Santa Rosa last Thursday I came up with a motto for the Ironman I would race two days later: Don’t panic. The phrase arrived out of the blue, as they say, but it did not […]

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Choose Your Own Adventure

By Matt Fitzgerald / March 11, 2019 / 0 Comments

3 Benefits of Narrativizing Your Athletic Journey On March 26, my latest book, Life Is a Marathon: A Memoir of Love and Endurance, will be published. It explores what running does for the people for whom running does the most—those men and women who are able to say, “Running changed me,” or even, “Running saved my […]

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It’s Not as Bad as you Think: The Performance-Boosting Power of Gratitude

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 25, 2019 / 0 Comments

One of my all-time favorite short stories is “Fantastic Night,” written by the great Austrian fiction master Stefan Zweig in the early 1920’s and set in late Bell Époque Vienna. It concerns a wealthy 35-year-old baron, an orphaned inheritor of a large fortune and dedicated gentleman of leisure who leads a pleasant but unfulfilling life […]

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Book Review: The Holy Sh!t Moment

By Matt Fitzgerald / February 11, 2019 / 0 Comments

Readers of my work often assume that I mostly read the same kinds of books I write, but this isn’t the case. Of the 40 to 50 books I devour each year, about 90 percent are novels. I can’t help it—my father is a novelist and I was a diehard fiction junkie by the third […]

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Keep calm and Keep running

Keep Calm and Keep Running

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 28, 2019 / 0 Comments

At the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships, held in Cardiff, Wales, young Geoffrey Kamworor gave the running community an object lesson in keeping calm during a crisis. The Kenyan upstart came into the race having talked a lot of smack about one fellow competitor, Mo Farah, who was almost universally recognized as the best runner […]

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is motivation a negative thing?

Is Motivation Ever Really the Problem?

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 21, 2019 / 0 Comments

A few weeks ago I was working out in the functional strength room at the gym I go to when one of the facility’s personal trainers entered with a new client, an overweight middle-age male. I did not intentionally eavesdrop on their session, but I couldn’t help overhearing the duo’s interactions during the next half-hour. […]

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Does Every Second Count in a Daylong Race?

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 13, 2019 / 0 Comments

The other day I had an interesting conversation with an athlete I coach who is training for an Ironman 70.3 event that will take place on the same weekend as the Ironman race I’m training for (specifically the weekend of May 10-11, 2019). In explaining to me why he had done the bare minimum of […]

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Here’s an Easy Way to Become a More Successful Athlete: Eliminate the Word “Triggered” from Your Vocabulary

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 7, 2019 / 0 Comments

Suddenly the word “triggered” is everywhere. The Urban Dictionary defines it as “An emotional/psychological reaction caused by something that somehow relates to an unhappy time or happening in someone’s life.” I would add that the term may also refer to stimuli affecting some personal vulnerability that is not strictly related to a past time or […]

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A Case for Treating Your Next Big Race as the Most Important Thing in the World

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 2, 2019 / 0 Comments

Recently my brother Josh sent me a link to an article on the John Templeton Foundation website that I found quite interesting. Titled “Sanctifying Everyday Difficulties: Motivational Consequences of Sanctifying Difficult Experiences,” it concerned the work of Daphna Oyserman, a professor of psychology at USC. Oyserman has spent a number of years studying ways in […]

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What Would Spock Do?

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 10, 2018 / 0 Comments

Lieutenant Commander Spock is one of the most iconic nonhuman (well, technically half-human) characters in television history. When I watched Star Trek as a child, my understanding was that Spock’s lack of emotion made him really smart. I’m not sure if this was Gene Roddenberry’s actual intent in creating the character, but regardless, my impressionable young […]

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no excuses

Make 2019 Your Year of No Excuses

By Matt Fitzgerald / December 3, 2018 / 0 Comments

Recently in this space I wrote about a study in which French researchers looked for associations between “psychosocial factors” and the likelihood of failing to complete a 140-km ultramarathon. My focus then was the finding that runners who scored high on measures of self-efficacy were more likely to reach the finish line. What I did […]

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Mental Predictors of Physical Performance

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 12, 2018 / 0 Comments

Every endurance athlete is familiar with the idea that certain physiological tests can be used to predict endurance performance. For example, the classic VO2max test is a very reliable way to assess how well an athlete is likely to do in a race or time trial. Other examples are the Wingate test and a simple […]

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exhaustion after painful workouts

What Role Do Incredibly Painful Workouts Have in Endurance Training?

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 20, 2018 / 0 Comments

It is a proven fact that individual pain tolerance predicts endurance performance. Given two athletes with identical physical traits, the one with a higher pain tolerance will likely outperform the other in competition. It is also a proven fact that pain tolerance is trainable. Exposure to pain tends to increase pain tolerance. The practical implication […]

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Why I Encourage Athletes to Be Hard on Themselves

By Matt Fitzgerald / August 13, 2018 / 0 Comments

The conditions for this year’s Boston Marathon were famously brutal, claiming many victims among the race’s 27,000 participants. Among them was professional runner Kellyn Taylor, who dropped out at 20K with symptoms of hypothermia. In a tweet posted later that day, Kellyn wrote, “I wonder if I just wasn’t tough enough to weather the storm.” […]

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The Goal of Becoming a Better Runner is Highly Compatible with the Goal of Becoming a Better Person

By Matt Fitzgerald / June 18, 2018 / 0 Comments

The apprehension runners feel before a race and the suffering they experience during a race constitute a sort of crisis state—a special kind of crisis state that is actively chosen by the runner. Like other crisis states, this one tends to bring one’s personal weaknesses to the fore. If a runner’s mind lets him down […]

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“You Are Not a Watch” (A Lesson in Pacing)

By Matt Fitzgerald / May 21, 2018 / 0 Comments

In the context of endurance racing, pacing can be defined as the skill of distributing one’s effort across a defined distance in such a way that the distance is covered in the least amount of time possible. Although the body does the visible work in any kind of endurance race, the skill of pacing is […]

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How’s Your Metacognition? If You’re an Endurance Athlete, You Should Care!

By Matt Fitzgerald / April 16, 2018 / 0 Comments

The weekend before last I did a 10-mile run. Under normal circumstances, such a workout is no big deal, but I am coming back from an injury and this one did not go terribly well. Having done a succession of eight-mile runs every other day over the preceding week, I was hoping to feel comfortable, […]

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It’s Only Pain

By Matt Fitzgerald / January 29, 2018 / 0 Comments

During the 13 weeks I spent training with the NAZ Elite professional running team in Flagstaff last summer, I did a few workouts with Sarah Crouch, not a member of the team but an accomplished pro with a 2:32 marathon on her resume. During a couple of these sessions, it was apparent to both of […]

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Don’t Ever Be Satisfied

By Matt Fitzgerald / November 1, 2017 / 0 Comments

Arguably the greatest runner in history is an Ethiopian man named Haile Gebrselassie. He broke nearly 30 world records in a career that spanned from the early 1990s through 2015. He has won eight World Championships gold medals, two Olympic gold medals, and numerous major marathons. Now at least 38 years old (it is widely […]

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