Mental Performance, Endurance Sports, & How Bad Do You Want It with Matt Fitzgerald

If there’s one thing every athlete understands, it’s that fear can hold you back. When you find yourself avoiding practices or a challenge at work out of fear, make overcoming it your goal. This week, author and endurance athlete Matt Fitzgerald shares his story of developing a growth mindset and using his fear to push him to reach his potential.

Fitzgerald says it wasn’t the pressure to succeed that got to him mentally; it was a fear of the suffering it would take to get there. The runs were hard, the races harder, and he had to find a way of shifting how he thought about that path in order to cross the finish line. Instead of having that suffering — his fear — be a means to an end, he made it the goal itself. He decided he would only consider a race or a run successful if he gave it his all and ended on empty. It didn’t matter if he won or lost, just that he tried his hardest.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Make overcoming your fear the goal
  • Shake off the bad practices
  • Practice conscious intentionality
  • Have a growth mindset and recognize the value of challenges
  • Win the mental battle first


I stopped really judging my performance based on time or position in the finishing standings. It was like, did I leave it all out there? No matter what my time or finishing place was, I wasn’t going to congratulate myself if I knew I could have gone harder.

Matt Fitzgerald

The growth mindset is hey, whether I have a good day or a bad day, I’m getting something out of this. And not only is it kinder to yourself to have that mentality, you actually will grow more because you’re not afraid of challenges. You’re not afraid of failure. It’s not that you want to fail, but you realize that failure has just as much value as success, so you shake it off.

Matt Fitzgerald

I see no real partition between athlete and human being. It’s not like when you step onto the race course, you flip a switch. The same psychology that you bring into work and relationships and other challenges you face in life — those same strengths and weaknesses are going to determine how you perform and how you experience the race.

Matt Fitzgerald

Life is hard for everyone in one way or another, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The challenges that you face and overcome in life can benefit you as an athlete and vice versa. Working on overcoming mental obstacles as an athlete can actually help you grow as a human being and help your relationships and career and everything else.

Matt Fitzgerald

“Every person that’s won a race, won an ironman, won an event, has had a ton of bad workouts along the way.”

Jake Thompson


You can find out more about Matt Fitzgerald and his work on his website, You can also follow him on Twitter @MattFitWriter. His books, including How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle, are available through his website and anywhere you get your books.

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Episode 165