Psychological Weapons to Conquer Your Inner “Chimp” – with Dr. Simon Marshall

If you ever have thoughts and feelings you wish you didn’t, there’s a good chance you’re human.

But there are ways to put a stop to those thoughts and feelings, and that’s where Dr. Simon Marshall comes in.

A competitive triathlete and world-renowned sport psychology expert, Dr. Marshall helps endurance athletes train their brains to become happier and more mentally resilient.

Dr. Marshall is a former professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, former Director of the Graduate Program in Sport & Exercise Psychology at San Diego State University, and has published over 100 scientific articles on the psychology of exercise and has been cited in scientific literature over 10,000 times.

He’s currently the performance psychologist for the BMC Racing team, an elite WorldTour professional cycling team, and he’s also married to three-time world champion triathlete and his business partner Lesley Paterson.

Together, Dr. Marshall and Lesley make up Brave Heart Coaching where they help athletes strengthen both their bodies and minds.

The two also recently published a book called The Brave Athlete in which they share actionable solutions to the most common mental barriers we runners face.

In this podcast, Dr. Marshall will share his tips for conquering the negative thoughts between us and our goals using “[butt]-kicking psychological weapons”. 🙂

*** This episode includes some bad language. If there are small ears around, you might want to listen with headphones! ***


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Questions Dr. Marshall is asked:

4:37 When and how did you first start running?

7:42 Why do you think your website and company are refreshingly straight-to-the-point and actionable?

9:09 Can you tell us about your wife, Leslie and how you work together?

13:30 Can you tell us about Team Supportive Husbands In Training and who can join?
14:39 How can people join the team?

16:50 What prompted you to start Braveheart Coaching and what has it been like getting up and going?

21:19 What does your average client look like?

24:39 How do you and Leslie work together with common clients?

29:28 What are the 13 categories do you break down in your book?

37:39 Can you explain what you refer to as the Chimp Brain, Computer Brain and Professor Brain?

47:27 What is the first step athletes can take to switch from Chimp Brain to Professor Brain?

56:02 When your clients go through mental training, do they see improvement in their lives beyond running?

59:02 How can people work with you and reach out to you?

1:00:57 Is your book available in audio format?

Quotes by Dr. Marshall:

“What you see on social media is a very sort of curated version…it’s the highlight reel – it’s the Heisman trophy highlight reel of people’s lives. It’s not real.”

“Our brain is just like a tree: if you cut open a tree and you count the rings in the middle, the part in the middle is the oldest part and the part on the outside is the newest part. So the part you actually see when you look at the human brain – the wrinkly cortex part on the outside – that’s where all our rational, logical thinking happens, and that only really only started to develop over the last two million years.”

“[The limbic system or the “chimp brain”] is very primitive, and it’s goal is to keep us alive. So it feeds us very powerful feelings and impressions to get us to run, fight, or hide.”

“The net result is that we go through life and we approach our sport with a feeling of mental anguish or having these thoughts we don’t want, and that simply reflects that your chimp brain has got the better of you – it’s hijacked your brain and is in charge of you.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Book: The Brave Athlete – by Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson
Braveheart Coaching
Lesley Paterson
Smog Test
Book: The Chimp Paradox – by Dr. Steve Peters
Book: Thinking Fast Slow – by David Kahneman
Book: The Happiness Hypothesis – by Jonathan Haidt
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