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Lesley Paterson, aka the “Scottish Rocket,” is a three-time world champion in off-road triathlon, an Ironman triathlon champ, a professional mountain biker, an athletic coach, and a world-class slinger of profanity.

Simon Marshall, her husband, is a sport and exercise psychologist at San Diego State, performance psychologist for BMC Racing, and a self-described “mid-pack age-group endurance athlete.”

Together, Lesley and Simon comprise Braveheart Coaching, a service that gets athletes performing to their potential in spite of the “3-pound lump of crazy” that lives in their cranium.

They've written a fantastic book called The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion. In our conversation, I made the unwarranted assumption that the asterisk was standing in for the letter U, of which Simon quickly disabused me.

I will warn you that we do drop a bunch of f-bombs during the interview (facks and ficks and fecks, of course ;), so this is NSF work or day care or church or, possibly, first dates.

Here's what you need to know about Lesley and Simon: they're hilarious. They're brilliant. They honor evidence over anecdote and conjecture. They aren't afraid to call bullshit when they see it (or bullsh*t, if you prefer).

They have fantastic accents (especially Lesley; sorry, Simon). And they have the experience and content knowledge to help you achieve your athletic goals. If you don't consider yourself an athlete, they invite you to reconsider, and then act like one.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • the surprising benefits to swearing
  • athletes engage in volitional competition
  • “our other choices conform to our identity”
  • athletes are humans first
  • we all experience thoughts and feelings that we don't want, and that's ok
  • Lesley on retiring at age 20 as a big failure
  • the bedside manner problem of many elite coaches
  • the ability to give harsh feedback with compassion
  • talent and the Rudy Syndrome
  • sport allows us to look deep into our souls
  • we're most vulnerable when we're in pain, so that's where our biggest discoveries lay
  • most of us have lost our sense of suffering, so we reconnect with it through ultra endurance events
  • walking your first 5k still makes you an athlete – if you own it
  • the 7 characteristics of a mature athlete (and why that's different from – and preferable to – a “strong” athlete)
  • the Chimp, the Professor, and the Computer – a highly simplified brain science metaphor
  • how to intentionally replace fight or flight with “brave” habits
  • “can you see failure as an opportunity and source of feedback?”
  • finding your “fuck-it” moment
  • how to not fixate on outcome even in high-stakes events
  • “effort and attitude are always within your control”
  • the four levels of the “Me-Tree”
  • the problem with athletic hyper-specialization
  • the “holy trinity” of psychological death: embarrassment, humiliation, inadequacy
  • slaying the meme-turds
  • when the “participant mindset” is a cop-out
  • “don't compare yourself to others” – nonsense
  • motivation is a warm bath that soon goes cold
  • the secret of The Brave Athlete: these are life skills
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back


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Braveheart Coaching

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

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1 comment on “Becoming a Brave Athlete with Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson: PYP 262

  1. Another great episode. I am not embarrassed to call myself an athlete now 🙂

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