How Bad Do You Want It?

Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle
by Matt Fitzgerald | 272 pages

Matt Fitzgerald is a journalist, coach, sports nutritionist, and author of more than 20 books. In this book, he walks us through the different scientific perspectives on how to tap into our latent potential with a deep dive into what’s known as the “Psychobiological Model.” It’s a super-engaging look at some ridiculously inspiring elite athletes and how they mastered their minds to do some extraordinary things. Big Ideas we explore include a quick look at the psycholobiological model (see: sub-title of the book: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle), the fire walk of life (how far do you get to your wall?), the psychology of pain (brace yourself!), perfectionism (vs. optimalism), the audience effect (eyeballs = better performance), motivation (= the strongest influence) and Steve Prefontaine's approach to crushing it ("Bring it on!").


“The job of this book is to help you become your own sports psychologist—a competent and ever-improving practitioner of the new psychology of endurance sports. You will find no techniques or exercises in the pages ahead. That’s traditional sports psychology. Instead you will encounter true stories of overcoming, drawn mainly from the elite stratum of endurance sports, which become ‘teachable moments’ when viewed from the perspective of the psychobiological model of endurance performance.

In every race, something within each athlete (something we may now specify as perception of effort) poses a simple question: How bad do you want it? To realize your potential as an athlete, you must respond with some version of: More. And then you have to prove it. It’s easy in principle, hard in practice—much harder than figuring out how to train, what to eat, and which shoes to wear. Here’s my promise to you: After you’ve read this book, your answer to the most important question in endurance sports will never be the same.”

~ Matt Fitzgerald from How Bad Do You Want It?

Matt Fitzgerald is a journalist, coach, sports nutritionist, and author of more than 20 books.

In this book, he walks us through the different scientific perspectives on how to tap into our latent potential with a deep dive into what’s known as the “Psychobiological Model.”

We can sum up that approach pretty succinctly via the sub-title of the book: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle. Which brings us back to the title (which has to rank up there as one of the best—or at least most provocative) ever: How Bad Do You Want It?

Samuele Marcora, the leading scientist at the forefront of the Psychobiological Model captures the essence of the book quite well in his Foreword where he says that this is “a book that can be read as a sports biography but, at the same time, provides suggestions on how to improve endurance performance by becoming your own ‘sports psychologist.’”

It’s a super-engaging look at some ridiculously inspiring elite athletes and how they mastered their minds to do some extraordinary things. If that’s your thing, I think you’ll enjoy the book as much as I did. (Get a copy here.)

Of course, as always, we’ll use sports as our portal into enlightenment. Which kinda begs a couple questions before we even jump in:

What’s an important goal in your life? And… HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?

(Seriously.) (<- What do you want? How bad do you want it?)

I asked myself that question basically every time I saw the cover of the book! (Hah! :)

With that, let’s jump in.

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