Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

"Reveals how we can all surpass our perceived physical limits." --Adam Grant - "This book is AMAZING!" --Malcolm GladwellLimits are an illusion: a revolutionary book that reveals the secrets of reaching the hidden extra potential within us allForeword by Malcolm GladwellThe capacity to endure is the key trait that underlies great performance in virtually every field--from...

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Title:Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
Author:Alex Hutchinson
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Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance Reviews

  • Susannah

    Perfect book for anyone gearing up for the Olympics. I'll post my NY Post feature on it when it runs...

  • Juan

    Libro muy interesante sobre el estado del arte en materia de resistencia física. El cuerpo humano tiene demasiadas variables interesantes. No es un libro de entrenamiento pero ayuda a entenderse mientras se entrena.

  • Loomis

    I found Hutchinson's journalistic style of reporting on Endurance to be highly enjoyable. I was able to form my own ideas and I often there was an answer coming when I wanted to challenge what I was reading. I appreciated the journey of this book and the fascinating detail.

  • Justin Daniel

    I am interested in long distance running; I am not necessarily all that motivated to do it, however. In college, I cut way back on calories and started running daily. By the end of the semester, I had lost more than 25 lbs and was in some of the best shape of my life. It was then that I made it a life goal to run a marathon. I still have yet to do that, but earlier this year I decided to start training instead of just saying I was going to eventually run a marathon.

    This book, then, is absolutely

    I am interested in long distance running; I am not necessarily all that motivated to do it, however. In college, I cut way back on calories and started running daily. By the end of the semester, I had lost more than 25 lbs and was in some of the best shape of my life. It was then that I made it a life goal to run a marathon. I still have yet to do that, but earlier this year I decided to start training instead of just saying I was going to eventually run a marathon.

    This book, then, is absolutely piqued my interest. Alex Hutchinson asks questions I have been quietly wondering in the back of my head since that Freshman year of college: what are the limitations humans have when it comes to exercise? Or in a different way, why do I stop running? It’s not because I absolutely cannot go on; and it is not because I haven’t trained hard enough (in some circumstances at least).

    Hutchinson answers these questions with data and science. In part I (entitled, “Mind and Muscle), he looks the reason why we have limits: because of our brain. If we had nothing to prevent us from reaching beyond our limits, we most certainly would be brought to the edge of death every time we hit the pavement or the gym. The mind is a powerful tool to prevent us from injury and to keep us from reaching the point of no return. However, there are ways in which the brain hinders us and pushing past those mental barriers is critical to performing at the highest level possible. The research in this section is fascinating and answers many questions that I had.

    In part II, Hutchinson looks at the limits we have in six different areas: pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, fuel. Each chapter is dedicated to the science behind how people have managed to break free from convention in these categories to reach another level. For example, I thought the heat and thirst chapters had a common theme. Usually we think that we need to drink a lot of water before and during exercise so we keep cool and hydrated. But in reality, a marathon runner loses about 10% of his/her bodyweight in the course of the marathon; not a significant loss of fluids to cause any damage. In the same vein, heat stroke is rare but it’s not because we work kids in the heat too long; rather, as Hutchinson explains, the risk factors for heat stroke increase exponentially with certain medications. The similarities between the two are obvious: sometimes we defy what is considered “normal” to stretch beyond our limits, a theme that binds this entire part together.

    Part III ends with how we overcome our own limitations. While I thought parts I and II were informative and interesting, I thought part III disappointed with some of the solutions Hutchinson provides.

    Overall, this was an enlightening and interesting book. A must read for those who wish to push mind over matter on the track, the pavement, or the gym.

  • Allison

    Disclaimer: I don't typically enjoy nonfiction books. I always-ALWAYS-need a narrative. It can be a bunch of little narratives that turn out sort of like short stories (e.g.,

    by Malcolm Gladwell), or an overarching narrative (...nothing comes to mind, actually). But no matter what, I need a story to hold all the "facts" together.

    Hutchinson does a great job weaving what would otherwise be almost chapter-length "research reviews" together with the singular thread of Nike's Breakin

    Disclaimer: I don't typically enjoy nonfiction books. I always-ALWAYS-need a narrative. It can be a bunch of little narratives that turn out sort of like short stories (e.g.,

    by Malcolm Gladwell), or an overarching narrative (...nothing comes to mind, actually). But no matter what, I need a story to hold all the "facts" together.

    Hutchinson does a great job weaving what would otherwise be almost chapter-length "research reviews" together with the singular thread of Nike's Breaking 2 Project. He followed the project from conception to completion and although anyone who follows running already knows the outcome of the project, the intimate quality of Hutchinson's on-the-ground experience still had me holding my breath as the story unfolded.

    As for the chapters in between, they were just as informative as I expected, without being too dry. Of course, I had my favorite and least favorites, based on my own personal interests, but all of the studies and experiments he covered were relayed in an accessible way that didn't make things too complex . . . or too simple. At no point in the book did I feel "talked down to," and as a fellow author, I know personally how hard that line is to walk.

    The one other point I want to make is that in no way is this a self-help book. Hutchinson admits from the outset that he had been hoping to find "answers," and instead he found more instances of "we'll have to wait and see." That he can admit this and still produce a compelling book full of novel information is a testament to him as a writer, researcher, and athlete.

    Anyone who is interested in the interplay of body and mind, as it pertains to endurance sports: read this book.

    P.s. I'd be remiss not to mention the little gems of dry humor sprinkled throughout the book. Just read this:

  • Lawrence Xie

    Out of all the books I’ve added on Goodreads, Endure is the most difficult for me to review with an unbiased eye. The reason is that the topic discussed lies within the backdrop of a community I am very immersed in – that of competitive running. Indeed the author is friends with many of my close current track teammates. In addition just this past summer, I remember watching Nike’s Breaking 2 live as it was streamed online late at night. Now, the monumental athletic feat provides the central narr

    Out of all the books I’ve added on Goodreads, Endure is the most difficult for me to review with an unbiased eye. The reason is that the topic discussed lies within the backdrop of a community I am very immersed in – that of competitive running. Indeed the author is friends with many of my close current track teammates. In addition just this past summer, I remember watching Nike’s Breaking 2 live as it was streamed online late at night. Now, the monumental athletic feat provides the central narrative tying together Hutchinson’s strong book on the psychological and physical aspects of endurance.

    Surprisingly my preexistent knowledge about running and track history actually decreased my enjoyment of reading the book. Many of the topics described were topics I am intimately familiar with such as lactate threshold and the concept of the central governor in the brain. Furthermore, I have followed Hutchinson’s writings over the years and many of the chapters were actually published in earlier forms through various magazine/newspaper articles that I’ve read. I actually appreciate this aspect though since it provided a “behind-the-scenes” view of the process of writing, something I hadn’t witnessed before. Still I have tried to remove personal biases from my rating of the book since I recognize it as a well-researched presentation that the majority of readers will still find fascinating.

    There were still many interesting things that I did learn from reading the book. For one, I was unaware of the author’s personal exceptional improvements in the 1500m. Many of the questions that he posed (and would later research) were questions I would ask if I were in such a situation. Hutchinson writes these passages well and the prose is highly relatable and easy to read. One area that I wish was covered in more detail is the relationship between research in sports physiology and the for-profit companies that sponsor them. This topic was also posed by Oldster on the Trackie message boards and I’m sure many share this interest.

    Overall the book is a well-structured piece worth the time to read for nearly all runners and athletes. My biggest takeaway from reading this is a rejuvenated commitment to endurance training – I will aim to appear at a few Saturday morning tempo runs at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and maybe bump into the author!

  • Scott Wozniak

    This was a strong tour of the physiology and psychology of endurance sports. With a good mix of stories and studies, this book covers a wide range of science debates, mostly centering around the question: How big of a factor is mental self-control? We know there are physical limits (lots of solid science reporting is in there explaining how we're pushing those limits), but can we train--or trick--our brains to doing more than we think?

    It's actually hard to answer, in part because it's hard to kn

    This was a strong tour of the physiology and psychology of endurance sports. With a good mix of stories and studies, this book covers a wide range of science debates, mostly centering around the question: How big of a factor is mental self-control? We know there are physical limits (lots of solid science reporting is in there explaining how we're pushing those limits), but can we train--or trick--our brains to doing more than we think?

    It's actually hard to answer, in part because it's hard to know exactly how much more we could have done. But in the end, we do know that we can not only train our body, but we can train our brain to tune into the performance info and tune out the the pain--we can learn to do more.

    I'm not a hard core endurance athlete (though I do run for exercise from time to time). I mostly found this fascinating as a study on character building. So much of good character and success comes down to impulse control and endurance.

  • John Spiller

    Much like Homer Simpson was disappointed to learn that "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson was not a book on how to win the lottery, I was dismayed to discover that "Endure" offers very little concrete insights on how endurance can be increased. Instead, "Endure" is an exploration of the various factors that affect endurance and how much -- or how little -- we know about each. In a nutshell, Tim Noakes' theory of the brain as a "central governor" of the body's performance appears to be generally su

    Much like Homer Simpson was disappointed to learn that "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson was not a book on how to win the lottery, I was dismayed to discover that "Endure" offers very little concrete insights on how endurance can be increased. Instead, "Endure" is an exploration of the various factors that affect endurance and how much -- or how little -- we know about each. In a nutshell, Tim Noakes' theory of the brain as a "central governor" of the body's performance appears to be generally supported, but the means to manipulate the brain to enhance performance still appear elusive.

    Hutchinson is a lively and engaging writer, though his narrative style tended to grate on me. Time and again, as he built to some point or conclusion, he would then abruptly change to a new story or new tale of clinical research. He ultimately reaches his conclusion after multiple disquisitions and switchbacks, but the circuitous route left a little to be desired.

  • Kirsten

    [2018; Next Big Idea Club] Well researched. His own passion for the subject comes through which is nice. Covered the limits we have to endure - muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, etc. - and the brain's influence on these physical limits. Not sure many of the older/first (early 1900s) research studies and examples were completely necessary but I guess they helped provide a more complete picture of how this area of research and endurance sports have evolved to where they are today. Threaded the story o

    [2018; Next Big Idea Club] Well researched. His own passion for the subject comes through which is nice. Covered the limits we have to endure - muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, etc. - and the brain's influence on these physical limits. Not sure many of the older/first (early 1900s) research studies and examples were completely necessary but I guess they helped provide a more complete picture of how this area of research and endurance sports have evolved to where they are today. Threaded the story of how Nike is trying to stage the first sub-two-hour marathon throughout.

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