The Science of Peak Performance -Interview with Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

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In this episode we speak with the authors of the forthcoming book Peak Performance -Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success.

What do peak performers do differently and how can we condition ourselves to achieve more in running and life?

Interview with Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

About the Authors

Brad StulbergBrad Stulberg writes about health and the science of human performance. He is a columnist with Outside Magazine and New York Magazine.

Previously, Brad worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company, where he counseled some of the world’s top executives on a broad range of issues.

Steve MagnessSteve Magness coaches track and cross country at the University of Houston and is the personal coach to several professional athletes, including Olympians. He consults with start-up technology companies on innovation and growth, holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from George Mason University, and serves as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s University (UK). Steve ran at a world-class level, clocking a 4:01 mile as an 18-year old, one of the fastest results in Texas history.

In This Interview You Will Discover:

  1. How both authors “burned out” in their early careers.
  2. The importance of periodization in running and life.
  3. What leads to breakthrough thinking.
  4. The growth equation: stress + rest = growth.
  5. What Roger Bannister did the week before he broke the 4 minute mile barrier.
  6. How elite runners view stress versus how non-elites view stress.
  7. The halo effect (cognitive fallacy).
  8. Peak performers are not good multi-taskers.
  9. Why so many great people meditate.
  10. The amount of sleep peak performers get.
  11. How to prime your body and brain through routines.

Inside the Book . . .

Alternating between periods of intense work and rest.
The process of progress in any endeavor is optimized when a stressor challenges the body or mind and is then followed by adequate recovery. This pattern of effort yields physical, cognitive, and emotional breakthroughs.

Developing and harnessing purpose.
Science now confirms what has been discussed anecdotally for decades: Having a higher calling promotes personal breakthroughs. New research shows that when we focus on something beyond ourselves, activity lessens in the part of the brain associated with the ego. When the ego is minimized, so, too, are constraining emotions like fear and worry.

Priming the body and mind for enhanced productivity.
It’s no coincidence that the best athletes perform the same rituals before every competition, or that the best thinkers and artists often work in the same settings, with the same beverage, and at the same time of day. A growing body of research suggests that, far beyond simple superstitions, these routines have a profound impact on the internal workings of the body and brain, “priming” us for our personal best.

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

Peak Performance Book website

Health IQ -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by Health IQ an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to to support the show and learn more.

Quick Tip: Marathon Training in the Heat and Humidity

Academy Member Shout Out!


1st marathon is in the books with a finishing time of 3:51:41! My finish time and how I felt during the race would not have been possible without everything I’ve learned from MTA and this community! Thank you Angie and Trevor for everything you guys do. It’s crazy how many times your voices popped into my head during the race today! When the Fargo Dome came into view I got pretty emotional thinking about how much work I’d put into getting to that point. My wife ran the half and was there at the end which was great to share with her. Thanks MTA, I do have what it takes to run a marathon. I’m looking forward to my next one in September (unless I find one sooner). –Ryan H.

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