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 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.

  • Phil Sykora

    I don't like that Alex Hutchinson's "Endure" is "written in the spirit of Malcolm Gladwell." It reminds me of what Stephen King said in

    : "Any book that has the description, 'written in the spirit of,' is probably the pits" (or something to that effect, I'm not going to fish it up).

    Well, this is the exception.

    is a fantastic book that's chock-full of interesting, far-reaching, and applicable research. He masterfully walks the line between hard data and engaging anecdote, never d

    I don't like that Alex Hutchinson's "Endure" is "written in the spirit of Malcolm Gladwell." It reminds me of what Stephen King said in

    : "Any book that has the description, 'written in the spirit of,' is probably the pits" (or something to that effect, I'm not going to fish it up).

    Well, this is the exception.

    is a fantastic book that's chock-full of interesting, far-reaching, and applicable research. He masterfully walks the line between hard data and engaging anecdote, never drawing conclusions that are too universal for what the evidence suggests.

    It's the only book this year that I've actually read the notes for.

    Some memorable bits that stuck with me:

    Jons Jacob Berzelius first introduced the idea that cardiovascular fatigue is caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the muscle in 1807 -- although lactic acid is only formed when protons bind to lactate, which is really what the muscles and blood of his subjects, dead animals forced to differing degrees of exhaustion, were producing. When coaches, trainers, and athletes refer to "lactic acid buildup," they really mean "lactate buildup," which seems minor and inconsequential unless you consider the negative connotative implications of the word, "acid," and you combine it with the power of positive thinking, which can considerably influence your performance in a race. (When I think about "lactic acid," I think about that Palahniuk quote from Fight Club: "My veins were pumping battery acid" -- that only works if you make the connection between the two). It might help, during a marathon, to think about your fatigue as "lactate buildup," a slight linguistic change that may have a non-negligible effect on the brain, which, as I said, is an important aspect -- possibly the most important aspect -- of physical endurance.

    And that, true to

    subtitle (

    ), is my biggest takeaway from the book: Effort, more than anything else, is the true determinant of individual performance.

    Inspired by this book – even though, as Alex Hutchinson says on page 258, it “isn't a training manual” -- I'm going to compete in a mini triathlon in my area (or maybe a sprint triathlon -- I haven't decided). They call it a “mini,” but it's essentially a super-sprint that's fit to the trail: a 7mi bike ride, 2mi run, and 250y swim; something that everyone could conceivably finish, so I don't think it's going to be hyper-competitive, but there are always those outliers in your area. I'm going to work some of what I've learned from this book into the program I'm designing for that race. If you don't know me personally, you should know I'm primarily a powerlifter. It's not that I'm completely untrained for endurance work, but I usually keep a higher bodyfat percentage (particularly during the winter) with a focus on lifting progressively heavier weights. This summer I'm going to cut down to sub-170 and work on something new. That's not to say that I'm going to completely dismiss strength training from my routine; I think it's a necessary part of just about any healthy training regimen, but I'm also going to include some serious endurance training in there.

    For fun, or something.

    Mayo Clininc physiologist Michael Joyner wrote a training haiku that's going to be the crux of my routine:

    With that simple poem as my backbone, it's time to overcomplicate things. I'm going to take a polarized approach to my program, splitting up the HIIT/LISS portions along the all-popular Paretto split like Ben Greenfield recommends in

    (This is just a fancy, self-serving way of saying I'm going to spend 20% of my time working on increasing my VO2 max by doing high intensity interval training and the other 80% of the time doing easy aerobic work). I

    be able to reserve a lap at the Rec Center near my house, so swimming might also be an option. As it stands, though, I only have a bike and not-too-dependable Ohio weather.

    With that said, I'm not going to focus or measure cardiovascular markers; mostly because I don't have the means to do so, but also because I want to focus on the most important aspect of success in this sport (and all sports): busting my ass. You can have the most aerodynamic bike, the one that cost $7000, you can have a swimsuit that Phelps would be jealous of, you can have the Nike Vaporfly 4% (which do sound cool, if not unrealistic), but -- on the local level -- you'll lose to the person who's busting their ass the most.

    One thing I didn't like: The front flap reads, “The capacity to endure is the key trait that underlies great performance in virtually every field—from a 100-meter sprint to a 100-mile ultramarathon, from summitting Everest to

    But what if we all can go farther, push harder, and achieve more than we think we are capable of?” The italicized portion is a bit of a bait-and-switch.

    doesn't even have a chapter on willpower; it sticks almost exclusively to endurance training – never really touching on how to “endure” anything that isn't related to exercise.

    I'm not going to take any stars off because I have a strong feeling it had nothing to do with Hutchinson and everything to do with HarperCollins. They probably wanted to include

    that was seemingly universal in the summary to draw more readers in. It worked. I'm not an endurance athlete. I picked it up for its more general message on human adversity.

    But, if you couldn't care less about cardio, don't expect this to interest you.

  • 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:

  • Viv JM

    Really interesting look at endurance and what the limits are for human performance. Hutchinson discusses the roles of heat, oxygen, muscles etc but also how much of endurance is related to the brain. Fascinating stuff, with lots of interesting anecdotes and stories, as well as scientific studies.

  • Atila Iamarino

    Um passeio bem legal e muito bem escrito sobre os limites do corpo humano. Usando a corrida como desculpa (ou contexto), Hutchinson passa uma combinação de medicina, método esportivo e a história do esporte e de esportistas para discutir o tema. Fica um balanço legal do que é limite físico (e muscular) ou fisiológico e o que é limite psicológico – até onde o cérebro segura nosso desempenho tentando gerir nossos recursos. Os exemplos que mostram o papel de cada um desses fatores são bem legais, c

    Um passeio bem legal e muito bem escrito sobre os limites do corpo humano. Usando a corrida como desculpa (ou contexto), Hutchinson passa uma combinação de medicina, método esportivo e a história do esporte e de esportistas para discutir o tema. Fica um balanço legal do que é limite físico (e muscular) ou fisiológico e o que é limite psicológico – até onde o cérebro segura nosso desempenho tentando gerir nossos recursos. Os exemplos que mostram o papel de cada um desses fatores são bem legais, com histórias de experimentos que mostram recursos que não sabiam que tínhamos ou pessoas em situações que realmente chegaram no limite.

    O autor escreve sobre corrida há bastante tempo na Runner's World, então acho que já teve tempo e experiência para deixar de lado modas esportivas que vão embora sem fazer a menor diferença. Achei bem balanceado, ele não dá trela para contos de pessoas hiperfortes ou situações sem comprovação nem fala sobre aparelhos e métodos miraculosos. pelo contrário, o livro usa experimentos e pesquisa bem embasada para discutir o que realmente entendemos dos nossos limites.

  • Roberto Rigolin F Lopes

    The interesting thing is that most people DON'T die of exhaustion, Tim Noakes noted in the 1997. Thus starting with the hypothesis that your mind is protecting you from misusing your body. Very good, It is all in your mind. But protection comes with a cost. That is, your mind is also stopping you from doing the best you can. And that’s what this book is all about. Alex is compiling the current science developments on human performance which includes a great deal of brain training. To make things

    The interesting thing is that most people DON'T die of exhaustion, Tim Noakes noted in the 1997. Thus starting with the hypothesis that your mind is protecting you from misusing your body. Very good, It is all in your mind. But protection comes with a cost. That is, your mind is also stopping you from doing the best you can. And that’s what this book is all about. Alex is compiling the current science developments on human performance which includes a great deal of brain training. To make things more dramatic, he sets the book within Nike's Breaking2 project. You may end up in a full body sweat while reading this book.

  • 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.

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