How did these two athletes put on such outstanding performances? Are they aerobic mutants? Were they driven by ferocious inner demons? Matt Fitzgerald explores the science of exercise capacity and finds that it is an athlete’s mental gifts that make the difference. It seems that people stop exercising when the mental strain of persisting in the face of perceived effort—suffering—is too great, and that a specific part of the brain (the part that handles response inhibition and conflict resolution) is involved in exercise endurance. But even the most accomplished sufferer needs a perceived reward to motivate him. Fitzgerald digs into Mark Allen’s and Dave Scott’s respective pasts to explore what makes them tick and why they found what they were looking for in triathlon.
Supposedly the idea of combining a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run arose from a recurring argument about who was fittest: swimmers, cyclists, or runners. Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the iron man. This book is as much a celebration of the peculiar sport of long-distance triathlon as it is about Dave Scott and Mark Allen. Triathletes will enjoy reading about the people who took the fledgling sport and pushed it farther than anyone had imagined. Fans of sport stories will discover a strange new world.
- Joe Friel on exercise fatigue
- Matt Fitzgerald’s earlier Complete Triathlon Book has an excellent chapter on mental training
Reviewed from my own copy of the book.