Matt Fitzgerald writes compelling books on high performance athletics. His ability to weave the anecdotal and scientific is one of his finest qualities. In this review, by Jeff Benjamin, our long time correspondent from Staten Island, we learn about Mr. Fitzgerald’s newest tome, “How Bad Do You Want it?”.
“How Bad to You Want it”, by Matt Fitzgerald
Book Review for RunBlogRun by Jeff Benjamin
Today this reviewer learned a new word–“Psychobiological”. The secondary definition (I shied away from the first) reads, “the branch of biology dealing with the relations or interactions between body and behavior, especially as exhibited in the nervous system, receptors, effectors, or the like.” What the term basically means is the connection between the minds and the body. Perhaps no one has to learn to connect both the mind and body together to produce great performances than athletes. In his book, “How Bad Do You Want It,” author Matt Fitzgerald, whose past books (“Run”, “80/20 Running”, and “The Runners Edge” among them) once again uses his very high-intellectual methods to attempt to show and inspire the reader to use that untapped resource which all bodies need to perform–the mind.
Alongside his very detailed historical stories about great athletes -runners, cyclists and triathletes among them—comes their stories of their abilities to psychologically master their challenges. Among one of the concepts shown by Fitzgerald is the positive strategy of “Bracing” oneself prior to the great competition. After telling stories using this strategy, Fitzgerald then explains how Bracing works:
“You never know how much your next race is going to hurt. Perception of effort is mysterious. You can push yourself equally hard in two separate races. And yet somehow feel “on top of” your suffering in one race and overwhelmed by it in the other. Because you never know exactly what you’ll find inside that black box until you open it, there is a temptation of hope -perhaps not quite consciously-that your next race won’t be one of those grinding affairs. This hope is a poor coping skill (My Underlining). Bracing yourself-always expecting your next race to be your hardest yet-is a much more mature and effective way to prepare mentally for your competition.”
If you think this is powerful writing, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Constantly relying on the experiences of some of endurance sports greatest athletes, Fitzgerald is able to weave in their experiences, both positive and negative, into his interpretation of using the power of the mind. From Greg LeMond, to Jenny Simpson to Gary Bjorkland along with other not so well-known athletes whose stories are interesting nonetheless, Fitzgerald has made “How Bad Do You Want It?” a primer for anyone looking for whatever edge they can find in achieving their limits.
Speaking of testing one’s limits, did I forget to mention that Steve Prefontaine is not only on the cover but is covered in the book as well?