Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 147 - Dr. Bradford Cooper - Journey to Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is about the long haul. It’s about the long journey. It’s about the marathon. It’s not about the first four steps, but but if you need that or if you benefit from that in the first four steps, knock yourself out. There’s nothing wrong with it. 
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 147 - Dr. Bradford Cooper - Journey to Mental Toughness

00:00:00] Mental toughness is about the long haul. It’s about the long journey. It’s about the marathon. It’s not about the first four steps, but but if you need that or if you benefit from that in the first four steps, knock yourself out. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not your sustainer over time. It’s not the answer to mental toughness being sustained throughout the period of whatever you’re doing. It might be an initiator for you, and that’s awesome.

[00:00:38] This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri. If you’re active at all, whether you’re running or simply out walking for the day, you’ve probably experienced one of the number one problems that active people have, and that’s chafing. Solpri’s all-new, all-natural, anti-chafe balm solves that problem while feeding your skin the vital nutrients it needs to be healthy. If you’d like to stop chafing once and for all and treat your body right, go to to check out the Anti-Chafe balm today. That’s S-O-L-P-R-I dot com.

Jesse: [00:01:15] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today has his PhD in performance psychology. He’s the CEO of US Corporate Wellness. He’s won the Race Across America, originally mentioned for the first time on this show with Katie Spotz last week. She did as well, but not quite as successfully as my guest this week. In 2016, he was voted or given the accolades of being the World’s Fittest CEO by multiple publications. He’s a co-founder of the Callus Coaching Institute, a host of Catalyst, Wealth and Wellness Coaching Performance Podcast. You can find him at That’s down in the description or if you’re on YouTube, it’s probably on the screen as well. Welcome to the show, Dr. Bradford Cooper.

Dr. Bradford: [00:02:05] Good to see you, buddy.

Jesse: [00:02:07] Thanks for hanging out with me. You’re — So, if you’re on YouTube, we’ll have links to Brad’s YouTube channel as well because he’s got a bunch of videos that are going to be of interest to you, especially if you’re here listening to this particular episode. If you’re not, you can get this episode on all the YouTube channel Or do you have a short link for your YouTube?

Dr. Bradford: [00:02:33] We do. It’s and yeah, we’ll have a whole bunch. We’ve got a bunch on the functional mental toughness that we’ll be digging into today. So if this sparks something, you’re like, “Oh man, I wanted more!” Just pop over to And there’s literally a playlist of of videos that go into the practical side of how you can integrate mental toughness. So but we’ll talk about a lot of it today.

Jesse: [00:02:56] Yeah, well, that’s — I mean, that’s the thing, right? Is like I always struggled with for a long time because I didn’t really have what I would consider an expert resource on motivation and mental toughness. I mean, coaches kind of. Help you develop it in an ancillary way where it’s like they’re encouraging you and they’re putting you through workouts. But it’s not necessarily what I would consider like a strict, like, like let’s just think about this and how specifically we’re going to work on our mental toughness. And it seems like you do a little more accurate job of addressing those things, in particular on the channel.

Dr. Bradford: [00:03:41] Yeah. We dig into each one, so and we’ll talk about this. But the overall, the way it’s easy to remember is it breaks into three components when we looked at our our research and that’s thrive, prepare and activate and then everything else falls under those aspects. So. And basically on the YouTube channel, you can pull up a video on Thrive, you can pull up one on Prepare, you can pull up one on Activate.

And how you can do that as a runner or it’s not just for runners. This is for life. This is for kids trying to get ready for finals. This is for parents that are struggling with a teenager. That’s just things aren’t going well. It’s this is not an athlete only approach. This is for all of us, no matter what we’re doing.

Jesse: [00:04:34] The thing I always feel like I can draw parallels between running and life and I kind of espouse that philosophy. Or if you or the listener have watched Ted Lasso on Apple Tv+. There’s a character that always says Soccer is life. That’s kind of his thing. I draw these parallels between the lessons we learn in running and then how they apply to the challenges and obstacles we face in life. But I don’t know that everybody always gets those same parallels that I do.

[00:05:13] Is that kind of the angle that you’re coming at where you’re like, “Let’s talk about running?” But we’re not really talking about running, are we? Like, I think you had the video I watched about you having a tough day. You’re doing Hill repeats in the mountain and you weren’t you got gone too hard the other like the previous day. And you’re like, Well, let’s just see what I’ve got today and put in where I am. But then it was like, Yeah, you’re talking about Hill repeats, but you’re not really talking about Hill repeats.

Dr. Bradford: [00:05:42] Exactly. Exactly. That’s. It’s applicable to anything that we’re doing. So Hill repeats. Yes. And yet it’s just as applicable to that. You know, you’ve got something to go on with work or you’re struggling with something else. It’s the as you said, running is very similar to life and we can take valuable concepts from that and it can turn things in the right direction.

Jesse: [00:06:09] So if you’re I believe you work with corporate clients as well as athletes. If you’re working with a corporate client to say they don’t work out, do you say, “Allright, let’s get you on an exercise routine” or do you just just try to work with them straight from where they are?

Dr. Bradford: [00:06:29] No. And any health and wellness coach and this is different from a personal trainer or a running coach or triathlon coach or something. But if if you’re working with a health and wellness coach that tells you what to do, you’re not really working with the health and wellness coach. The key to qualified, credible health and wellness coaching is I, I have no idea what’s best for you that that is inside you. We use things like motivational interviewing and intrinsic motivation to draw out of you what matters to you.

[00:06:53] So one of the red flags people can utilize, if you’re talking to a health and wellness coach and they’re telling you what to do, you’re not actually talking to a credible, trained health and wellness coach. If, Jesse, if you came to me and said, you know, let’s reverse it, let’s say I’m your coach, and we sit down, I say, “Hey, you know, what do you want to work on?” You say “This, this” and I say, “Well, you know, that’s a good idea.

But instead, let’s start training this way. Let’s do. Hill repeats, let’s do.” That’s great if you’re hired to be a running coach, but that’s very different. Health and wellness coaching is not that that’s that’s preaching, telling, teaching, dictating. And in some cases, a coach must be a dictator, but not a health and wellness coach.

Jesse: [00:07:38] Well, I mean, so I think about this from the marketing standpoint that, you know, I know in your industry we’ve both seen the people that do exactly that. Right? Follow my plan and everything will be bright as rainbows, right? Yeah, that’s right. And it works because people want that that easy answer. Right. Just feed it to me. Just feed me the answer. Not all people, I’m generalizing, but can we, is it possible get people pass the — Just feed me the answers to what it seems like you’re saying of help me find the answers.

Dr. Bradford: [00:08:22] You have the answer. I will help you find it. And even if we go to let’s let’s forget health and wellness coaching, let’s talk running coaching. I think we can help some running coaches out there.

Jesse: [00:08:32] Sure.

Dr. Bradford: [00:08:32] So if if I’m coaching you and you’re a runner, I’m not going to say to you “Jesse, you need to do X, Y, Z.” I’m going to find out. What are you what are you working towards? “Oh, I want to qualify for Boston.” Okay, cool. Let’s talk about Boston. What’s your marathon experience? “Oh, I’ve never done one” OK, what have you done? “I’ve done.

A couple of halfs. I’m about to do my first full in four months.” OK, how important is this to you? “It’s important.” To finish or to run sub three or to set a masters record. Like what? What are we talking about? Let’s define what we’re talking about here, because running a marathon tells us nothing about the goal except where we’re going to be on a certain day.

[00:09:15] The difference, you see people walking marathons in 7 hours. That’s very different from the person who dials everything in and tries to set a PR or age group record or whatever it might be. So I’m going to define what we’re talking about. Are we talking about finishing this marathon and saying I did it and getting the T-shirt? Or are we talking about hitting that that Boston time or being the age group of top finisher or whatever it might be?

[00:09:41] So we dial that down, so we’re finding out what matters to you. Oh, and you say, ‘Okay, Brad, I want to break 3 hours.” Okay, cool. So what’s your half marathon time? “Oh, you know, I went 118.” Okay, so 3 hours is very reasonable. Now we just need to to get the body’s ability to sustain that for a longer period. We’ve got to get your fueling down, that kind of stuff. So is that.

You know what your schedule looks like. Do you see what I’m doing here? I don’t come to you and say, “Here’s your 12 week schedule.” That’s — I don’t know what your 12-week schedule should be. We got to find out. What are your goals? What? Where are we going with this? What do you define as a marathon compared to what I define as a marathon? And that’s true for anything.

[00:10:22] So that’s that’s weight loss, that’s sleep, that’s financial fitness, that’s relationship development, that is stress management. It is all of those things.

Jesse: [00:10:33] So try to figure out how to back this up and help myself. We were talking about before we got recording about how I basically been up before four this morning because my cat decided to throw up in our bed and wake me up early for my track workout. Thinking about. I know one of the components to thriving is getting adequate sleep and making sure you’re doing that, which I clearly did not do today. So let’s I guess I’ll role play. I’m coming to you today, Brad, and I’m like, I’m low on sleep. I want to get all the things done. Like what? What should I do? Where do you start with me?

Dr. Bradford: [00:11:18] Sure. So one of the exciting things we found in the sleep research is it didn’t influence everyone equally. So sleep is critically important. If you if you catch me on the street and you say, “Hey, mister Wellness, dude.” Like, “what can I do to improve my life?” And you won’t let me ask you any questions about yourself. We don’t get to sit down. We don’t get through anything. I just have to pick something out of the air, I would say. Sleep at 30 minutes. Your life will get better. Now there are exceptions. You might already be sleeping 8, 9 hours. Awesome. That’ll be fine then.

[00:11:49] So so that’s that piece. But with that said, one of the intriguing things we found in the sleep research was it’s not the end all, be all. So you had a bad sleep last night. You’re going to be fine, dude, to stop stressing about it. So that’s the first thing is let’s do some positive self-talk. Let’s let’s have you realize that, you know what, I didn’t realize this, but just talking to Brad, he said the research shows that one day.

No big deal. No, no big deal. I’ll be fine if I can grab an upgrade. If not, it’s no big deal. I’m just going to suck it up. I’ll be working through the day-to-day. I’m going to make sure I don’t have caffeine too late in the day and then I’ll just crush my sleep tonight. I’ll be right back to normal tomorrow.

[00:12:30] So there’s that piece, or you can pick other things. So when I’m really tired, I have different things that I work on that take less intense brain power or focus. So you might look at your to do list and you might say, Oh, that one’s going to take a lot. But you know, I can edit this podcast in 2 hours and that’s I can’t be like zoning out, but I don’t really have to concentrate on exactly what Brad’s saying. I’m just looking for all the ums and oohs and ee and an that kind of stuff to pull out.

[00:13:02] So you might pull that into your schedule and move something that was high concentration into tomorrow when you know you’ll be rested. So does that help? So it’s essentially taking the other elements of thrive, prepare and activate and saying, okay, we didn’t get sleep, but we can draw on all these other things.

Jesse: [00:13:21] At least from experience. I would definitely say I agree with the research as far as that one night doesn’t really make a difference and I’m sure you’ve experienced this, so be the listener. One of the things I didn’t mention in Brad’s intro because he’s done so many things, is that he’s completed 11 Ironman so I’m sure a number of other races over his career as well. And Brad, if you’re like me and many of the people I know, racing competitively often sleep poorly the night before, especially because you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to get to the race start.

[00:13:58] And I know when I was younger, I would I’ll say stress, sleep, but sometimes not sleep, thinking about am I going to be up at the right time and all these kind of things. And eventually relaxed, got shorter amount of sleep, but realized that the amount of sleep I did or didn’t get on any given race night had basically no bearing on how the day went. So is that your experience as well, or are you like one of these miracle sleepers that still gets there 8 or 9 hours before race morning?

Dr. Bradford: [00:14:32] You know, best case scenario, you get in that sleep, your performance will be better if you sleep well. But there’s an old saying in endurance sports, I have not seen research on it, but man, we all believe it so much. The placebo effect has got to be strong. And that is it’s the night before the night before that has the biggest impact. And my son, even he’s in med school now and he still does that for finals like he grew up running. He and I would go out running together and he jokingly but not jokingly, he’d say, “Well, I can’t go out tonight because it’s the night before the night before the exam.”

[00:15:05] So he was more worried about that piece than the night before. And it’s just something he grew up with hearing over and over. And and I think there’s something to that. I think I think there’s definitely something to that.

Jesse: [00:15:16] I wish I could remember. I’ve talked to a number of people that can specialize in sleep. I wish I remember the guest’s name, but they were mentioning to me it’s not a literal bank, but I think it was a she was talking about there’s kind of like a bank like effect of getting sleep, like ahead of time if you know that you’re going to be low on sleep. I can’t remember whether she mentioned it being, as you mentioned, kind of a placebo effect or whether it was a actually measurable physiological response.

Dr. Bradford: [00:15:50] Well, and is there a difference?

Jesse: [00:15:53] Right.

Dr. Bradford: [00:15:54] I mean, placebo. It’s so interesting when you look in details about the placebo effect, even when you know you’re given a placebo, it still works. Like, how crazy is that? So I have a green pill that’s a sugar pill. And I say to you, Jesse, I want you to take this with you. And I can’t remember the details of the study, but I think it was blood pressure medication. And I want you to utilize the blood pressure medication along with this green pill. And then over time, we’re going to decrease your blood pressure medication, but continue to take the green pill.

[00:16:25] And they saw a leveling out similar to as if they’d stayed on their blood pressure medication. And again, I’m misquoting that study, but it’s something along those lines. It’s just so fascinating. So is there anything wrong with the placebo effect? No, I’ll. That’s totally fine. I use it all the time personally.

Jesse: [00:16:48] It’s something I come to with regards to recovery routines. I know we’re down all kinds of rabbit holes right now. So like I know very early on in the podcast I had on Christie Aschwanden I don’t know if you’ve read —

Dr. Bradford: [00:17:05] Yeah, we’ve had her —

Jesse: [00:17:05] Yeah yeah —

Dr. Bradford: [00:17:06] We had her on the Catalyst Health, Wellness & Performance Coaching podcast early on. She’s a great lady.

Jesse: [00:17:10] Yeah. So I had her on when she was doing kind of her book tour, and the book goes through a lot. Like there are a few things in the book that’s like, Yeah, it’s actually good for recovery. And a lot of it’s like, Yeah, maybe not so much, but I think a lot of it comes back to me in the sense of. Is it decreasing performance? If no. Then do you believe it’s increasing Your performance? Is probably fine.

Like whatever it is that you’re doing, if you get a personal positive benefit out of it, even though like, I don’t know, let’s say. This is not a thing. But let’s say I have a habit of bathing with snakes or something. And you look at me and you go, That’s insane. Yes. But I’m absorbing the power of the snakes —

Dr. Bradford: [00:17:58] Doesn’t matter.

Jesse: [00:17:58] and going faster. It doesn’t it doesn’t really matter. Now, that’s a more complicated situation than I meant to make, because the snakes could buy me or something. But assuming that they don’t. That’s my personal recovery routine. It helps me go faster or feel like I’m going to faster. That’s cool. I really embrace that. Like the whole idea of the placebo effect is as well in regards to athletics.

Because we have our own personal belief systems and levers and things to kind of pull in and tweak to try to get the best out of ourselves. Um, so I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the, when I watched the Thrive video, you’ve got kind of bubbles and categories of things that help you thrive.

[00:18:51] I assumed that they were in proportion to their effectiveness to helping you thrive. And the biggest one was like fuel and hydration. I think it was if we don’t get enough sleep or we fuel, well, are we going to be fine?

Dr. Bradford: [00:19:10] No, the shapes are not in reference to the impact. Because the impact for you will be different than the impact for me.

Jesse: [00:19:19] Gotcha.

Dr. Bradford: [00:19:20] So it is completely individualized. But we have found or other people have found that those things have a have have an impact. So if you’re not fueling well. But you don’t have the literally fuel to make the best decisions if you’re not sleeping well. You don’t have that ability to make the same decisions you would otherwise if you’re not. I’ve been married for 30 years, and if I’m in some kind of a disconnect with Susanna, I’m not focused on the work or the workout or the race.

By the same token, those things can add benefits. When I did the Race Across America, if you’ve watched the film, it’s called Godspeed the Race Across America. They did a movie about it and you get it on. I think it’s, but the there’s a real interesting phase in there. As I look back, our daughter, Danielle, who’s our middle child, they all our kids were on the crew.

[00:20:18] There’s a crew of 15, 16 people depending on the time. And she felt at one point like she’d taken us off course. And I remember hearing her say, like literally hearing when I was on one of my breaks, “I think I ruin daddy’s race.” And any dads out there, you just got chills because you know what happened next. There is no way I was going to let her think that. And for the next 8 hours, as we chased down the team that had passed us in the process of taking that wrong turn, every time I got on that bike, I saw Danielle’s eyes and I had an extra level of mental toughness that only dads can can tell you about moms, obviously, too.

[00:20:58] But that that voice I would just hear Danielle say, “I think I ruined daddy’s race.” And I was like, no, before this day is up, we will be back in the lead. And that was an incredible driver. And that’s just an example of how the relationship piece can also be a positive driver, not just the disconnect being a negative driver.

Jesse: [00:21:17] I —  how do we take kind of a inventory of all these factors that are affecting us? You know, I talk about this sometimes, though. I don’t think to probably the level that you can the interconnectedness of all the things that we do in talking about the relations, like the relationships that we have, the things that we eat, how much sleep we’re getting, the amount of stress that we’re under, both eustress and distress, I think one of the common themes from some of my higher performing guests on the show is that they do take into account, you know, like maybe I don’t know that anybody reported this, but just making something up, oh, I had an argument with my significant other and like that’s, that’s stewing in my mind and it either fuels or detracts from what I’m doing that day. So how do we go through the process of auditing, I guess, for lack of a better term, or inventorying where we’re short, where we’re in abundance —

Dr. Bradford: [00:22:27] Make it super easy for you. I can send you a link for this. We put together an assessment called an FMT assessment. It’s actually it’s in that video. So if you go to the description section of that video, you can pull up that assessment, pop it up, and you can access that and you’ll be good to go. And so that’s something you can go back through once a month, once a quarter, twice a year, whatever, and just say, okay, previously because it identify your top three opportunities for improvement. And so you can identify those, you can start working on one of those, don’t overdo it, work on one. And then as you enhance it, come back, do the assessment again, see if you’ve improved in that area. The goal with that assessment is not to increase your number.

[00:23:05] You are going to know the right answer. So don’t don’t go into like, oh, I’m going to increase my score. We don’t care what your score is. Stop. You don’t care as a coach what the score is. The, the new the numerical value of your FMT or functional mental toughness score and mine is meaningless. That’s all fake stuff but yours to you. Yours today compared to yours a month from now. Mine today compared to mine a week from now. That’s beautiful.

Jesse: [00:23:36] So using that assessment, obviously. And then from there, it’s a focus inward, right? Racing yourself instead of racing others.

Dr. Bradford: [00:23:47] Yeah, and maybe not the racing piece, but we’re realizing that to enhance your functional mental toughness. Exactly. Due against you, it does not, you’re not, you don’t have your spouse do it or your running buddy or your brother or something and say, “Oh mines are nears.” No, that that means nothing. One of the examples I often use when I’m speaking about this is if you and I are both at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship at Kona, Hawaii, and we’re coming down a lead drive with a mile left to go and you’ve got a smile on your face and you’re just like cruising along and waving to the crowd. And I’m like, gritting my teeth and squinting my eyes and raise my shoulders. Which one of us has more mental toughness? I don’t know.

[00:24:30] I don’t know. There’s too many other variables. We can’t tell that. The announcers think they can tell. They’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, that guy’s got more me–” No, you’re just you’re an entertainer because you’re an announcer and you’re trying to make something up, but you have no idea if that simply fitness, if that’s habit, or if it’s truly mental toughness. So. So use the assessment for yourself. Don’t ever, ever, ever there’s zero value of comparing that to anyone else.

Jesse: [00:24:58] You actually kind of touched on a habit. I do like it. And this is something that I recommend to people. I’m sure you’ve heard about this and that is smiling while you’re running or competing.

Dr. Bradford: [00:25:12] Good research on that. Yeah. Yeah. Andy Jones is involved in some of that. The University of Exeter, at least he’s he’s involved with it on an arm’s length because you’ve seen Kipchoge his two-hour marathon project. You can see him if you’ve watched the documentary on that. You can see him smiling up until about, I think about two miles left to go. So he’s running 435 pace for an hour and 50 minutes and he’s smiling because he knows that makes a difference.

Jesse: [00:25:41] Yeah. And it. To me, it’s almost antithesis to our cultural perception of the idea of grit and mental fortitude, where, as you mentioned, like, it’s just like really grind down and like have this, like, just terrible face. You know, if you look, gosh, if we got on whatever Amazon or Google, we started looking up motivational posters. It’s going to be like guys yelling and all these things. It’s not you’re you’re unlikely, I think, to find somebody who looks super relaxed and as if they’re smiling. But from personal experience and the research seems to flesh out that that is a very effective practice. So —

Dr. Bradford: [00:26:29] And that’s one of the reasons I decided I wanted to study that for my PhD is I think the mental toughness videos out there, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Like they literally don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s not just. Ridiculous information. It can be harmful information. And I want to get to what is the research actually say not what is some knucklehead who happened to be a good athlete in some specific area suggests that I should do in my life.

What does that have to do with anything? They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’ve never really. They just know inside. Well, this helps me. Nice. It’s great. I’m glad it helps you. It has nothing to do with the rest of the population. And anybody who follows you doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Jesse: [00:27:15] So is there. I mean, are there common tropes or there common things that you see? I’ll call them gurus, for lack of a better term. These people don’t know what they’re talking about or the things that they lean on that you just, you see and you cringe or you go, that is, as you mentioned, actually harmful to people.

Dr. Bradford: [00:27:37] Yeah. I’m not going to name names. Everybody knows who I’m talking about. And there and they’re as individuals, you’ve got to respect what they’re accomplishing in their situation, in their like. Goggins is a great example. Goggins has lived an amazing life. He’s accomplished some incredible things. But the advice that he provides is not — You cannot generalize that for your life. It is perfect for David Goggins. It is not perfect for you. And. Yeah. I respect the guy for what he’s done with his life. He’s an amazing man and his information is not applicable to the majority of the population.

Jesse: [00:28:19] I think about it sometimes, like the idea of. Have you had training friends or people? We’re both in the endurance space that we’ll try to take like. Just strictly copy and paste like a pro workout and be like, Well, this is what I’m going to do because like, you know, Jesse Thomas did this workout and he’s so great. So now I’m going to do this workout and it’s going to make me great. And it’s like. Wait. You’re not Jesse Thomas, number one. You don’t have his background, his fitness, his time, his recovery routine, his team. Like, it reminds me of that where, again, like I mentioned earlier, this that like I want the silver bullet, I want the easy answer. Oh, I put a little more work in.

[00:29:11] I saw what the pro is doing. That’s what’s making them great. Probably not. And so it’s like the same thing. David Goggins or whoever it is, this is high-performance individual. What are they doing? Are they doing 5-hour polar plunges or are they doing. Are they walking on coals or whatever it is? Often flashy things, I think, catch people’s eyes because it’s so different.

Dr. Bradford: [00:29:42] Yes, Instagram.

Jesse: [00:29:44] The Instagram reality we live in. So if you’re still here with this conversation, thanks for enjoying long form content where we discuss the nuances of things. But you know. It’s just getting people to. To step back and go, OK! Can we use, like, we’re talking about Goggins, can we use him as an inspiration, but not necessarily like a direct 1-to-1 model for my life?

Dr. Bradford: [00:30:16] Yeah. Two quick things. So we had a super fascinating guest probably a month ago on the Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Coaching podcast, talking about super hero therapy. This is utilizing a counseling setting. So we’re not talking about endurance athletes, but the application is it fits here. And that’s where someone like a David Goggins or a, you know, Mark Allen or, you know, Ryan Hall or whoever you want to pull out of the air, Renee Carr Fray, Chrissie Wellington.

And where that works is you literally think, Well, what would you, say, Jesse Thomas what would Jesse do in this situation? Or one of my favorite workouts to do was the Prefontaine Classic, where you go out and you do 2400s, like nobody needs to do 2400s, but there’s just something special about doing something.

[00:31:04] And you’re like, This was Prefontaine favorite workout. Well, we don’t really know that it was, but it’s fun to see that. Like, I enjoy thinking maybe that I am doing something that this amazing guy did. So, you know, there’s that piece of it and there is value to doing that if we’re not pushing into the injury mode. So that can provide fun. And then the stuff that David puts out of the posters you’re talking about are the motivational music or the short, you know, fire up videos, that kind of stuff that can provide the initial.

[00:31:41] So I’m not saying there’s anything negative with that. If that gets you fired up in the car on the way over to the track or, you know, you pull that out when you’re getting ready to sit down, I’ll, I’ll pop on AC DC sometimes when I’m starting my day off, that’s fine. And there’s value to that in the first couple of minutes, but don’t think that that’s going to sustain you.

[00:32:01] Mental toughness is about the long haul. It’s about the long journey. It’s about the marathon. It’s not about the first four steps, but but if you need that or if you benefit from that in the first four steps, knock yourself out. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not your sustain or over time. It’s not the answer to mental toughness being sustained throughout the period of whatever you’re doing. It might be an initiator for you, and that’s awesome.

Jesse: [00:32:29] That kind of brings me to a kind of cynical question I have to ask you. And it’s the idea that as as a preface, I was really obsessed with motivation for a long time. I felt like I’ve got a lot of motivation. I’ve got enough motivation for everybody. And then over time, I’ve kind of go and, you know, is it really motivation that’s driving me forward? What is driving me forward? And then I go, “Does motivation matter?” Is it simply at this point habit? Does motivation — Does motivation matter at some point, especially as you mentioned, that like the initial burst kind of thing? It is it even needed to continue with success, however you define that.

Dr. Bradford: [00:33:23] So let’s define that first, because that’s key to the question. What are we talking about as success here? What is your scenario that we’re defining success?

Jesse: [00:33:36] I guess I’ll use a personal current goal. I’m trying to get back under 17 for 5k.

Dr. Bradford: [00:33:42] Okay. Perfect. Why is that important to you?

Jesse: [00:33:47] It’s what we call it. It’s a waypoint on an endless ocean of activity.

Dr. Bradford: [00:33:54] Okay, so this is something that’s very important to you in terms of your identity as an individual, as a runner, as a podcaster.

Jesse: [00:34:06] I guess so. I mean, for a long time, I’ve identified myself by accomplishments. I think in part it gives a sense of purpose to why I’m working out. I don’t. I enjoy the workouts themselves, but without something to focus on, it’s probably more like feeling of being rudderless, which is like doing workouts. But what what are the purpose of all of these workouts?

Dr. Bradford: [00:34:38] So it’s the sub 17 has become your running Northern Star, if you will.

Jesse: [00:34:43] Sure.

Dr. Bradford: [00:34:44] It’s what you wake up and look at and say, that’s where I’m heading.

Jesse: [00:34:48] Yeah, I would say most days.

Dr. Bradford: [00:34:51] Sure. Okay. So that’s beautiful. And that is your intrinsic motivation. Now, if I came to you and said, All right, buddy, here’s what we’re doing, we’re breaking 17. You with me? Can you do this? Come on, get fired up. I can get that endorphin going with you initially, but when I leave, when you leave the track, when we’re not together, when I’m not giving you my little rah rah, you fall back to what matters to you, not what matters to me.

[00:35:21] So I don’t know if you know the term motivational interviewing I mentioned earlier, but Bill Miller created that along with Rolnick 25, 30 years ago. And we had him. He was actually our 200th episode. Unbelievable conversation. So I created motivational interviewing and it gets into that aspect of pulling using the motivational interviewing, not motivation, motivational interviewing. And then that draws us across the line to intrinsic motivation of what matters to you.

[00:35:51] So in your in your description, this is really important to you. That’s awesome. That is one that is perfect. It’s intrinsic motivation. It’s not extrinsic. It’s not you’re not going to win $1,000,000. You know, you’re not going to have your podcasts blow up all of a sudden because you did such and such. It’s it’s intrinsic. It’s it’s part of who you are. And that that’s when it’s really exciting. That’s when it’s most powerful.

Jesse: [00:36:19] This makes me jump tracks a little bit. But I wonder about do you ever have clients who have. What I would refer to as a misalignment of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. So say they’re they’re obsessed about I want the trophy, I want the money, I want whatever it is. But then internally. That doesn’t like what they really care about intrinsically, doesn’t really line up with those outward motivations.

Dr. Bradford: [00:36:56] So internal — externally there’s a trophy. Internally, they don’t care about the trophy because it might be that motivation could be the trophy. That could be intrinsic motivation.

Jesse: [00:37:05] No, I absolutely understand that. I’m just curious if there’s if you ever experienced like a misalignment or or maybe not a misalignment so much as like say, like, I’m interested in bringing 17 again just because that’s my personal interest. I just it’s just the thing I’ve decided on.

Dr. Bradford: [00:37:26] Right.

Jesse: [00:37:27] But, let’s say. I’m trying to think —

Dr. Bradford: [00:37:32] Well, so that’s consistent with you. So I wanted to break five-minute mile at age 50. So very similar type of goal.

Jesse: [00:37:39] Right.

Dr. Bradford: [00:37:39] And it’s exactly what you described. It got me to the track more consistently. It changed the way I was training, a little less mileage, a little more speed work, that kind of thing. So it’s a wonderful element. Your “why” was very is very clear. My “why” was very clear in that situation and that was able to drive things. Maybe what you’re getting to is when you don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, you just get up and you go running and people are like, “Hey, how come you’re doing another marathon?” “Because I, I. Not really sure. I guess just because that’s what I do.”

[00:38:19] And that’s the person you want to encourage to say. Okay. Might be worth a conversation here because that’s it. I just wrote a blog post on the Catalyst Coaching Institute website looking at the fact that it doesn’t really matter, “It’s not that important” was the name of it, actually. And it looked at realizing that these things that we put so much stock in, we want that Kom we want that course record. We want on Strava. We want that five-minute mile at age 50 or that 17-minute 5K, whatever it is. When, when we step away. For whatever reason. Maybe it’s injury. Maybe it’s something else. And we realize nobody cares, Jesse.

Jesse: [00:39:06] Right.

Dr. Bradford: [00:39:06] Nobody. Nobody cares. And what I said in the article is, okay, maybe the person in front of you and the person behind you cares, but your family doesn’t care. Your friends don’t care. You know, your parents, your brother, your sister, your neighbor, they don’t care. It’s a conversation piece. They’ll ask you about it. They’ll say, “Way to go.”, “Good job, Jesse.” That’s awesome. But they don’t really care. It’s a conversation piece. They want to be nice. But folks, we put so much stock in this. It’s our hobby. If it’s having a negative influence on something else, we need a review session with ourselves.

Jesse: [00:39:39] I think that’s I think that’s where I was trying to get my brain to formulate is like. Maybe I was after, like the misalignment of trying to. Have accolades or whatever to gain status where we’re as you mentioned, nobody cares.

Dr. Bradford: [00:40:00] Nobody cares. I mean, if you’re an Olympic athlete.

Jesse: [00:40:03] Well, yeah.

Dr. Bradford: [00:40:03] A different conversation. If you’re a professional and you earn your money, if you’re. I mean, it was fun watching the Boston Marathon results the other day. If you’re finishing in the top ten, people care like it matters. It’s your career, it’s your shoe contract. That’s a different question. But that’s not you and me, as competitive as you and I might be, as as well as we do in races, no one really cares.

Jesse: [00:40:30] Right.

Dr. Bradford: [00:40:31] So if if you say to me, I’ve got to go do my long run, I will turn to you and say, “You’re using the wrong word, buddy. You get to do your long run. This is your hobby. It’s not your job. Don’t tell me you’ve got to go do anything.” So I think we lose perspective, especially in the insurance world where we’re triple type A, we’re super driven. And then in the world of social media, we think people care. They don’t care. They don’t care. So if you care, that’s awesome. It’s a valuable hobby if it’s in perspective.

Jesse: [00:41:10] Brad, we’re starting to wind down on time. I wanted to ask you about this. I have a question that I ask everybody each season. There’s new question every season. I’m hoping you’ve got a really solid answer to this, because I think you’ve got a lot of these —

Dr. Bradford: [00:41:25] Feeling pressure.

Jesse: [00:41:26] Yeah, put it on.

Dr. Bradford: [00:41:28] Let me work on my mental toughness. Hang on just a second. Just kidding.

Jesse: [00:41:31] Okay. No, I mean, you’ve got a lot of these. We’re talking about defining success. I’m sure you’ve done that. So my question this year is, how do you celebrate your wins?

Dr. Bradford: [00:41:48] I think, first of all, define a win.

Jesse: [00:41:53] Right. And that’s that’s that’s entirely up to you to define.

Dr. Bradford: [00:41:56] Okay. So if this phase of my life, my biggest win is when we have our three kids and their three spouses together. So we’re, you know, we go to a concert and we’re all together and they have smiles on their faces. That is this kid’s biggest single win period right now.

[00:42:14] So. I mean, the celebration is a part of the win. So it’s like, here’s the win and we’re celebrating as part of that win. I think a big part of celebrating wins is recognizing the wins. It’s so easy to fall back on complaining about everything and griping and whining and and being disappointed and thinking, Oh, I could do better, especially in the context of mental toughness, like I could do better. Okay? Probably. Yeah, you probably could. And we have tools to help you do that. But did you realize what you just accomplished? And I think that’s the role of coaches in many cases is to broaden out that perspective and because we get so micro focus.

[00:43:00] So, you know, I’m looking at this dot and this workout that I just finished and doggone it, I didn’t hit those 113 splits on my four hundreds and I’m pissed and the coach is able to say, No, you didn’t, and there’s something going on. Maybe it was this, this, this or this, but you hit 114 consistently and you had eight of the ten under 113. And did you know that six weeks ago you couldn’t break 118? There’s win. I got the win. So I think the coach the answer for the coach in that is to broaden out this perspective from this micro analysis to the macro. And for the individual, it’s just clearly define what is a win. And you might tuning into those or I’m just one around whining all the time.

Jesse: [00:43:52] See no pressure on you. You have a good answer. Brad, we mentioned a few times, but if people want to get in touch with you, see what you’re up to or any of that kind of stuff. Where can they find you?

Dr. Bradford: [00:44:03] Yeah, a couple spots. So the website you can contact me through that is We just published our 215th episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Coaching Podcast.

[00:44:15] So if you’re a runner, you’ll love some of the folks like Ben Cohen and Ryan Hall and Renee Caffrey and Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington. If you like the science side of it, we’ve got it’s all evidence-based. So we’ve had, as Jessie said, he had Christie, we’ve had her as well. We had Alex Hutchinson who wrote Endure. Just unbelievable. I’ve been just and I’m sure you feel this way to just the the willingness of incredible people to come and share their knowledge is unbelievable.

So that’s a great spot. And then if you’re on Twitter, I two things I do on Twitter. One is share research studies and things that I’m discovering that will help performance and life in general. And then Colorado State Rams. So you’ll see a little bit of Colorado State Ram basketball and football stuff in there too. So anyway, yeah, it’s fun doing this, Jesse. I appreciate it.

Jesse: [00:45:06] Yeah. Thanks for hanging out with me.

Dr. Bradford: [00:45:08] Any time.

Google Pay Mastercard PayPal Shop Pay SOFORT Visa