Book Review: The Champion Mindset – An Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness by Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D.

the Champion Mindset

I just finished reading The Champion Mindset – An Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness by Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D. and I can tell you this was a book worth buying because it focuses on the one thing that we hardly focus on, our negative thoughts!

Racing in triathlons is tough physically but it’s also tough mentally. While training and racing, you have so many negative thoughts that it can inhibit you from getting stronger and faster. Zeiger’s book talks all about it.

Dr. Zeiger was a pro-triathlete. She placed 4th in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was the 2008 Ironman 70.3 world champion. A seven time Olympic trials qualifier in marathon, triathlon and swimming, Dr. Zeiger is the co-founder of Race Ready Coaching.

In the book, Zeiger talks about goal setting as your first step in mental toughness. She says:

  • Make realistic goals
  • Have intrinsic and extrinsic goals
  • Set non-outcome goals like nailing nutrition, pacing and testing yourself
  • Have visualizations and keep practicing
  • Have a commitment
  • Be accountable and keep training logs
  • Remember it’s okay to fail!

She has a whole chapter on team building – getting the right coach and the right partners to help you along the way to complete your goals.

One of the biggest takeaways from the book for me was, “don’t get in your own way and think positive.” For the first couple of years when I started, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to compete. Now, I realize that it’s something I enjoy and who really cares if you finish last or you finish in the middle of the pack? You’re doing it for you.

The other takeaway I got was you don’t have to go for it all the time. Many athletes I know, start racing one year and the next, they are doing a half or full Ironman. Dr. Zeiger says that you can take your time. She says that getting faster takes time and patience and it will come. She also talks about how those who make “slow and steady improvements in training are generally the athletes that are able to show up on race day. It’s not about crushing it daily. You should always have a little left because it is never a bout any single workout; it is about consistency over the long haul. Getting greedy in training is a recipe for disaster.”

I love that she delves into the power of self-talk, because that’s a technique that I use all the time. I tell myself, “you can do it….”

If you are involved with an endurance sport, this is a great book to read and refer to. The old saying, if you believe you can, you will, is the premise behind the book, The Champion Mindset – An Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness by Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D.