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

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From the National Magazine Award-winning Runner’s World columnist, frequent New Yorker online contributor, and Cambridge-trained physicist: a fascinating and definitive exploration of the extraordinary science of human endurance and the secrets of human performance, for fans of The Sports Gene, Born to Run, and Grit.

From running a two-hour marathon to summiting Mount Everest, we’re fascinated by the extremes of human endurance, constantly testing both our physical and psychological limits.

How high or far or fast can humans go? And what about individual potential: what defines a person’s limits?

For years, physiology determined the answer: heart size, lung capacity, and muscle strength. But over the past decade, a wave of dramatic findings in the cutting-edge science of endurance has completely overturned our understanding of human limitation. Endure widely disseminates these findings for the first time: It’s the brain that dictates how far we can go—which means we can always push ourselves further.

Hutchinson presents an overview of science’s search for understanding human fatigue, from crude experiments with electricity and frogs’ legs to sophisticated brain imaging technology. Going beyond the traditional mechanical view of human limits (like a car with a brick on its gas pedal, we go until the tank runs out of gas), he instead argues that a key element in endurance is how the brain responds to distress signals—whether heat, or cold, or muscles screaming with lactic acid—and reveals that we can train to improve brain response.

An elite distance runner himself, Hutchinson takes us to the forefront of the new sports psychology—brain electrode jolts, computer-based training, subliminal messaging—and presents startling new discoveries enhancing the performance of athletes today and shows how anyone can utilize these tactics to bolster their own performance—and get the most out of their bodies.

333 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 6, 2018

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About the author

Alex Hutchinson

4 books217 followers
Alex Hutchinson is a columnist for Outside magazine and was a long-time columnist for Runner's World. A National Magazine Award winner, he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker online, pens the weekly "Jockology" column in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and writes for the New York Times. FiveThirtyEight recently named him one of their "favorite running science geeks." He was a two-time finalist in the 1,500 meters at the Canadian Olympic Trials, and represented Canada internationally in track, cross-country, road racing, and mountain running competitions. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, and has worked as a researcher for the U.S. National Security Agency. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,050 reviews
258 reviews11 followers
February 12, 2018
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.

Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
385 reviews112k followers
March 12, 2020
Fascinating book about the limits of human endurance, well researched and backed by science. Worth reading, but if your goal is to learn how to become a faster athlete, it ambles a lot and doesn't really focus on that question as much. That said, lots of interesting tidbits.

First, some basics - oxygen in the bloodstream fuels us up to a point, and with increased oxygen we get increased performance. That is only up to a point, of course, which is called your VO2max - as you approach that point you start to burn carbohydrates, which produce lactic acid, fatigue your muscles, and make you slow down or stop.

"Crucially, they could still accelerate to faster speeds; however, their oxygen intake no longer followed. This plateau is your VO2max, a pure and objective measure of endurance capacity that is, in theory, independent of motivation, weather, phase of the moon, or any other possible excuse. Hill surmised that VO2max reflected the ultimate limits of the heart and circulatory system—a measurable constant that seemed to reveal the size of the “engine” an athlete was blessed with."

Interestingly, the book points out that the "vast majority of the world’s best distance runners these days, were born, grew up, and train in the East African highlands along the Great Rift Valley, at elevations of at least 6,000 feet". So I guess if you want a better ability to process oxygen really well, be born in (or move to?) a high elevation.

Disappointingly to me, the book didn't go as much into how to improve your endurance or train up to elite levels. With one exception - it focused a lot on mental stamina, which the author seemed obsessed by. It gave a lot of interesting examples of people who have done remarkable things by pushing boundaries (a guy lifing a car off a cyclist trapped underneath, a woman who drowned saving her son in dangerous surf by treading water for hours). And to be fair, it is an interesting question of how the mind regulates us and how you can learn to push those limits. Because we all rate limit ourselves - if you go out for a 5 mile run at the 4 mile mark you start to feel it because you know you are almost there - versus if you go out for a 10 mile run, at mile 4 you feel fine - because your brain regulates it. So if it's all in your head, can you improve mental endurance to affect that? The answer is it sounds like you can, but it's a nascent field.

Drugs can also help endurance - a placebo pill will boost performance by several percentage points, as will caffeine, Tylenol, or even crystal meth (which puts a whole new lens on the Blitzkrieg). Swishing gatorade or anything with carbs in your mouth and spitting it out also improves performance by a few points, which speaks to mental power.

Ice baths are something that many people I know and have read about swear by - but apparently the science says they are neutral - IE have no measurable impact on performance. (Curious if there are other takes on this?).

Your body starts to run out of fuel about about an hour of intense exercise, so even in a half marathon it's good to fuel - you can only absorb about 250 calories an hour though. Sports drinks like gatorade or gels.

But the best advice that I at least gleaned as a combo of improving mental belief and pushing your limits there:

"Even the humblest Kenyan runner, he noticed, wakes up every morning with the firm conviction that today, finally, will be his or her day. They run with the leaders because they think they can beat them, and if harsh reality proves that they can’t, they regroup and try again the next day. And that belief, fostered by the longstanding international dominance of generations of Kenyan runners, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

You have to teach athletes, somewhere in their careers, that they can do more than they think they can." ...

And also improving your aerobic and anaerobic limits:

"which is why his super-workout consisted of five times a mile as hard as possible, followed by your coach telling you to do another at the same pace. “From this workout, you’ll learn forever that you’re capable of much more than you think,” he wrote. “It’s the most powerful lesson you can possibly learn in running."

Best advice, expressed in a Michael Pollan-esque quote:

"Run a lot of miles. Some faster than your race pace. Rest once in a while."
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,302 reviews340 followers
October 7, 2021
I found this incredibly fascinating.

There is so much in it but it's written logically, clearly and concisely, and there is a healthy dose of scepticism to keep everything grounded.

The research in this novel pertains to the limits of human endurance, and considers physical, physiological and psychological. There are chapters on Pain, Muscle, Oxygen, Heat, Thirst, Fuel, and more.

I really enjoyed slowly digesting this one. There really is a lot to take in but I never felt lost. A lot of it focuses on running and cycling, but it's still applicable to pretty much any sport that requires endurance. I was mentally applying everything to the martial art I do and it still made heaps of sense.

I loved the way it was all broken down, but also broken up by the anecdotes and challenges that got you invested in the outcome. It's highly unlikely I'll remember many of these names, but many of their stories will stay with me.

If you are someone interested in exploring the limits of human endurance, this is a brilliant book for it. I got a lot out of it and will likely read it again and refer to it often.

Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Loomis.
6 reviews2 followers
August 19, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,362 followers
June 20, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Jon Nguyen.
102 reviews27 followers
February 17, 2020
This book is a good survey of the history and current state of science around human endurance. For that, it was worth a read. You learn about all the factors, such as oxygen, food, pain, muscle, and, most importantly, the mind. It’s recent enough that it covers topics such as Eliud Kipchoge’s first 2-hour marathon attempt and low carb, high fat diets.

The problem with the book is that it the author just provides a survey of all the things but doesn’t weave it all together into something more cohesive with a strong point of view. Instead, I often felt like I was reading magazine articles instead of a whole book on the topic. I appreciated the author’s objectivity and how focused on science it was, but that approach unfortunately made it less fun than it could have been.
Profile Image for Roberto Rigolin F Lopes.
363 reviews95 followers
August 13, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,692 reviews206 followers
February 8, 2022
“Over the past decade, I’ve traveled to labs in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and across North America, and spoken to hundreds of scientists, coaches, and athletes who share my obsession with decoding the mysteries of endurance. I started out with the hunch that the brain would play a bigger role than generally acknowledged. That turned out to be true, but not in the simple it’s-all-in-your head manner of self-help books. Instead, brain and body are fundamentally intertwined, and to understand what defines your limits under any particular set of circumstances, you have to consider them both together. That’s what the scientists described in the following pages have been doing, and the surprising results of their research suggest to me that, when it comes to pushing our limits, we’re just getting started.”

Journalist, physicist, and runner (as a member of the Canadian national team) Alex Hutchinson relates the history and latest scientific research regarding the limits of human performance. He is particularly interested in whether our limits are imposed by mental or physical factors. Woven in between the sports physiology is a narrative set around Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to run a marathon in under two hours. He likens this milestone to Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile.

This is a book for people who are avidly interested in endurance sports physiology and psychology. It contains fascinating anecdotes related to other sports such as cycling, mountain climbing, arctic exploration, basketball, breath-holding diving, triathlons, and ultramarathoning. The author creatively blends together these engrossing true stories with scientific data on world-class athletes. It seems the majority of people can improve through training the body, but once a person reaches world-class levels, the mind becomes an even bigger part of the performance.

The information is imparted in an easily accessible fashion, though it will appeal most to those specifically interested in sports performance. There is no simple answer to the question of what limits us – body or brain – but Hutchinson thoroughly explores the subject in a way that kept my interest from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Phil Sykora.
190 reviews70 followers
May 11, 2018
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 On Writing: "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.

Endure 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 Endure's subtitle (Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance), 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:

Run a lot of miles
Some faster than your race pace
Rest once in a while


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 article. (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 might 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 acing final exams or completing any difficult project. 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. Endure 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 something 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.
Profile Image for CoachJim.
155 reviews81 followers
September 19, 2019
Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.
by Alex Hutchinson

“The cruel metabolic demands of the marathon, which inevitably depletes your stores of readily available fuel, mean that most people are slowing in the final miles. But with the right incentive, some are able to speed up — and it’s only the brain that can respond to abstract incentives like breaking four hours for an arbitrary distance like 26.2 miles.”

The subject of this book — endurance — is a subject near and dear to most distance runners. This book examines the many explanations for endurance that go beyond the usual VO2Max and Lactate Acid Thresholds. Hutchinson devotes chapters to the brain, effort, pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thrust and fuel. His discussions of each of these and the research of and contributions each of them make to understanding endurance is interesting and thought provoking. He provides real examples of each of these factors, but backs it up with a description of the research being done on these factors. His descriptions of this research is presented in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.

The question Hutchinson is trying to answer is it the body that is incapable or the mind that is unwilling. He starts this discussion with an analysis of Tim Noakes “Central Governor”. He connects this later in the book when he refers to the Brain that: “it doesn’t just wait for the Catastrophe; it anticipates it.” (Page 211)

The author relates Tim Noake’s observation “about the second-place Olympic marathoner jogging around the track waving his country’s flag. ‘Do you notice he’s not dead?’ he asked. ‘It means he could have run faster.’” (Page 209)

These examples, and the quote at the beginning of this review, show the conclusion arrived at by Hutchinson.

For me I like the quote:

“All pleasure is alike, as Leo Tolstoy might have put it, but each pain hurts in its own unique way.”

I wish I could write a review this book deserves. I have read as many books about running as I could. This one would go at the top of any list I recommend. The book will not tell you how to train for your sport, but if that sport requires endurance, then it will tell you about the limits you will encounter.
Profile Image for Benjamin Hola.
60 reviews
January 14, 2019
3.5/5

Great insight into the techniques and fads used to boost endurance and overall performance. Keto, brain stimulus, heat, cryotherapy, and other methods are researched and discussed but let me give you the spark notes version of this book: Pushing your mind and your body over and over past it’s limits is the core way to improving. It isn’t cryotherapy, tech, carb gels, yoga, CrossFit, keto, etc. It’s plain hard ass work every damn day.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cav.
627 reviews77 followers
October 1, 2022
Endure was a decent look into the subject of endurance performance.

Author Alex Hutchinson is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist whose work appears in Outside, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications.

Alex Hutchinson:
Alex-Hutchinson-Sept2018-2

Hutchinson has a good writing style; for the most part. However, I felt that the book dragged on a bit as it went. Apologies to the author, but I felt that the book was a little too long, and found some of the writing dry and flat...
FWIW, there was a good, short foreword by another Canadian author and runner, Malcolm Gladwell.

The author mentions the quest for a sub 2-hour marathon here early on; which was long thought impossible. Ditto for the sub 4-minute mile. Both were previously thought beyond the realm of human performance until someone actually proved that they were indeed - not.

So, what exactly is going on there? In a theme that the author revisits later on; the power of the mind over the body is demonstrably incredibly powerful. Indeed, sports metrics of all kinds have been steadily trending upwards for at least the last hundred or so years...

The writing here continues on; with Hutchinson breaking the formatting of the book into chapters that correspond to the many different factors that can affect endurance performance. He also clarifies the historical misunderstanding of the roles of oxygen and lactic acid in endurance athletics, in some good writing.

The book is a combination of science and case study, in a format that I felt worked. I generally like books presented in this fashion, and this one was no exception.

Some more of what is covered in these pages by Hutchinson includes:
• Vo2 max
• The "Central governer" theory
• The fatigue/pain relationship
• Muscle's role; the Nazi methamphetamine drug Pervitin
• Oxygen
• Heat
• Thirst
• Fuel
• Transcranial magnetic stimulation
• Belief

**********************

Endure was an interesting look into the topic. However, I am admittedly very picky about how readable a book is, and this one was not quite as lively as I had hoped it would be...
Likely a subjective gripe; there's still a lot of valuable content here.
3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Martin.
33 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2022
Kui sul on vaimselt keeruline päev, tundub ka füüsiline treening raskem. Rõhk sõnal tundub– üks viis oma perceived effort'it vähendada on näiteks naeratada. Olen proovinud ja töötab.

Relax, smile and it will get better.
Profile Image for Jacques Bezuidenhout.
393 reviews18 followers
May 29, 2018
If you are looking for a step by step guide on how to improve endurance, this is not it.

What it is a journalistic style report trying to apply scientific theories from the last century to different endurance sports (running, speed walking, cycling, mountain climbing, free diving) to try find something that can measure or debunk myths about the limits in human potential.

There is a lot of research that gets delved into/mentioned in this book.
Hutchinson doesn't really come to any conclusions, but lays out the facts, so that you can decide for yourself.

Some of the topics/areas covered:
- Lactic Acid
- VO2 max
- Psychology
- Pain
- Core temperature
- Diet (HFLC - High Fat Low Carb)
- Fuelling and hydration before/during races & training

I really liked that most of the topics covered took a specific athlete/event and then covers the studies / research that went in around that time, and what the outcomes were.

It felt very close to home, since South Africa gets mentioned quite a bit from both the research, athlete and event perspectives.

Really enjoyed this book, and to hear some stories about the limits of the human body.
It does make me feel a bit inadequate listening to some of the feats these athletes reach in terms of distance / speed / endurance.

Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
921 reviews785 followers
February 20, 2018
Neat surprise, I didn't expect that I'll enjoy that one as much, but I did.
It's not a typical "running" book (as one could have thought, knowing that it was written by the runner) - by typical I mean one that covers all the technical aspects of running, diet, picking proper training regime, choosing shoes, etc. It's not even a typical sports book - this book is about humans' endurance in general & it covers this topic damn well, by exploring each of traits, dimensions & myths one after another.

So you can read here about physical & mental limitations. About oxygen, water, heat & energy. About placebos, motivation, exhaustion, ways w/o retreats & such ones when you can retreat anytime. Examples vary a lot - there are explorers, sports(wo)men and casual people. About training for endurance, barriers of pain & fooling it.

What this book ain't for sure is a set of given answers. If you're looking for a prescription of how to boost your endurance & improve results, you won't get a straight answer, because ... there's no single answer. But there's a high chance your awareness will increase in a way that will help you to understand yourself and your own, specific barriers. I've just finished this book, but I already have a feeling I'll keep getting back to it.

Recommended stuff.
Profile Image for Viv JM.
686 reviews152 followers
June 30, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Vincze Andrada.
208 reviews28 followers
July 23, 2022
Lectura este greoaie, dar abordarea cu privire la dovezile științifice este una temperată și cu cât avansează cartea, cu atât argumentele sunt privite mai nuanțat. Foarte multe puncte bonus pentru asta. Una dintre ideile centrale ale cărții e limitele performanței sunt uneori fizice, alteori mentale, și nu în ultimul rând, limitele sunt uneori doar niște iluzii. Cred că această ultimă parte susține ceea ce mulți sportivi își doresc să audă, că limitele în performanța lor sunt doar niște iluzii. Cartea arată că acestea pot fi combătute nu atât cu metode secrete știute doar de cei privilegiați, ci întorcându-ne la simplul sfat: „Antrenează-te mult, uneori la un nivel mai ridicat decât performanțele tale obișnuite; Și odihnește-te din când în când.” Cineva care a investigat foarte mulți factori care limitează sau facilitează performanța (hidratare, alimentare, nivelul de oxigen, credințele, stimulare trans-craniană și altele) ne îndeamnă, deci, să ne întoarcem la principiile de bază. Seamănă cu povestea cuiva care a călătorit în toată lumea, dar a preferat să se întoarcă acasă.

Cred că pot pune eticheta de „cea mai complexă abordare a performanței sportive” pe care am citit-o până azi, și pentru asta le mulțumesc profesorilor mei pentru recomandare. Într-adevăr sunt abordate cu predilecție sporturile de anduranță (de ex. alergători de cursă lungă), dar cele mai multe informații sunt transferabile și pentru alte tipuri de performanțe. Câteva lucruri care cred că merită atenția noastră:
1. Faptul că ritmul alergării nu este în totalitate controlat voluntar (creierul intervine și funcționează ca o frână atunci când e nevoie) schimbă puțin viziunea noastră despre efort și toleranța la durere. Pentru cei interesați de această temă, studiile lui Marcora și Tim Noakes sunt impresionante.
2. Sportivii de performanță au o toleranță mai crescută la durere. Și, contrar așteptărilor, nu este vorba că nu simt durerea, ci sunt doar capabili să o tolereze mai mult timp. Bineînțeles că nu știm încă dacă oamenii care au această toleranță mai ridicată sunt mai predispuși să ajungă să facă sport sau sportul îi face să și-o dezvolte; Vechea poveste cu oul sau găina.
3. Un organism rece/răcorit va performa mai bine mai mult timp. Astfel, modalitățile prin care poți să te răcorești în timpul unei competiții (de ex. un prosop ud pe ceafă, o băutură rece) sunt deosebit de importante, în special în competițiile care se întind pe o durată mai lungă de timp.
4. Atunci când sportivii fac un antrenament, mintea dezvoltă un șablon mental pentru efortul anticipat din acel antrenament. Astfel, mintea face predicții automate despre cât de greu va fi efortul din fiecare moment al antrenamentului. Atunci când efortul simțit este semnificativ mai mare față de efortul anticipat, sportivul va avea tendința să abandoneze sau să reducă efortul depus. Discuțiile care explorează anticiparea efortului și modul în care sportivul se va simți într-un antrenament sau într-o competiție mai grea, îl vor ajuta să facă aceste predicții mai acurate.
5. Pentru că nu mă pot abține: autorul citează studii în care, prin stimulare subliminală, unui sportiv îi sunt expuse pentru 16 milisecunde (mai scurt decât o clipire) o față zâmbitoare și această expunere îmbunătățește performanța cu 12%. Sincer, mi-aș dori ca atunci când lucrez cu un sportiv pot să fac asta, dar din păcate nu funcționează chiar așa. Până să ajungem să vorbim de contribuția stimulării la nivel subliminal încă nu este foarte clar dacă percepția subliminală există, și în plus replicabilitatea pentru astfel de studii este scăzută. (NB. Aceeași poveste este valabilă și pentru studiile cu hipnoza)

Cred, asemeni autorului, că antrenamentul este tortul și credințele despre propria performanța sunt cireașa de pe tort. Desigur, uneori cireașa face toată diferența. 
Ce face deosebit de bine cartea este că identifică foarte mulți factori care contribuie în performanța sportivă, nu inventează roata, dar ne arată cum fiecare factor are rolul lui. Unii factori pot fi modificați cu antrenamentul necesar, alții pot fi compensați, pe unii trebuie să îi acceptăm ca niște limitări și să încercăm alte metode pentru a fi mai performanți. Oricum ar fi, mentalitatea că sportivul trebuie să performeze oricând și oricum trebuie schimbată. Astăzi știm mai mult și mai bine de atât.
Din păcate, cartea nu este disponibilă în limba română, dar poate fi găsită aici în limba engleză: shorturl.at/EHKLM
Profile Image for Tiaan Stassen.
10 reviews2 followers
January 26, 2019
Some of your own feats might seem like nothing after reading this book, but might just open your mind to more possibilities. An excellent book if you you are entrigued by the human limit regarding sport and how much2 we really are capable of.
284 reviews8 followers
August 6, 2022
Why don’t more runners exhaust themselves to the point of death? Is there a central governor in the brain that manages effort? And if there is a governor, is there a way to manipulate it to increase performance? These are some of the questions this book attempts to address. I really liked this book and it offered some insights into my approach to training and race day.
47 reviews3 followers
September 13, 2018
After reading the book "How Bad Do You Want It?", I was hoping to get a similar experience. In that book the author (Matt Fitzgerald) provides some anecdotal evidence for different mental/physical strategies to overcome barriers in training/competing (I am an amateur runner trying to improve, and reading books is a get rich quick scheme for me). A lot of what Fitzgerald it is inherently bullshit because there is very little scientific evidence. However, it worked super well for me - it changed how I approached running (and perhaps life? No. Just running). So once again, my expectations for a book set me up to hate it initially. Maybe I should stop hoping a book, on a different subject by a different author, will be the same as some other favorite I have. I won't stop doing this, but I want to note that I should.

This book is written in a somewhat jarring fashion. The author insists on shifting constantly between scientific studies and historical evidence to back these stories. This is an awful way to write a book, but it does break the book into little bite size pieces. Usually I hate novel story telling methods, but they grow on me. This method did not grow on me. I still hate it. The writing itself, and the task that Hutchinson took on it writing this book offset this in my opinion. I should note that just because I don't like his method of story telling, it isn't bad, just not my favorite.

I was initially very disappointed that I did not walk away from this book with a definitive answer of how the brain interacts with our body during endurance endeavors. However, the author isn't trying to take a size, he's really showing how we know absolutely nothing about the body. I am walking away with a very broad understanding of how scientists are approaching the complex problem of mental and physical limits. Hutchinson makes it very accessible for any audience, which is something to be cherished considering his training as a physicist.

At the end of the book, you realize what the author was trying to achieve, and it made the entire read worth it. It's a fun read and I recommend it if you're interested at all in how the brain/body interact during these incredible feats of human perseverance; if you're looking for a little fire in your personal training it might help too.

Profile Image for Allison.
611 reviews54 followers
February 22, 2018
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., What the Dog Saw 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:
...the severity of the rig [muscle failure--"rigor mortis"] can be diminished ever so slightly by ingesting baking soda, which counters rising acidity in much the same way that it reacts with acetic acid (that is, vinegar) in grade-school volcano models. (The downside of baking soda doping, while we're on the volcano theme, is the potential for explosive diarrhea.)
Profile Image for Vilmantas.
12 reviews
October 1, 2020
This year in Berlin I ran my marathon with a goal of 3h 5min in mind, but near the end of the marathon my Garmin watch showed that I am close to 3h goal. The belief that I could reach the sub 3h goal made me run faster and my last 2 kilometers was the fastest in the entire distance, even though I was tired after these 40 kilometer. I usually rush the last 100m, but rushing last 2 kilometers was something unbelievable. The book was very interesting and helped me to understand how is this possible. I recommend this book to new or experienced athletes.

By the way I finished in 3h 1min 36s, but it is still my pb and I am really happy with this result. Now I am looking forward to my next marathon 🏃
Profile Image for Olivia.
66 reviews
September 13, 2022
[Did not finish] The storytelling starts off strong: the author describes his own running career, follows the start of Nike’s Breaking2 project, and shares stories of explorers’ trips to the South Pole. The following chapters are then structured by different endurance factors (effort, pain, oxygen, thirst, heat, etc.) and how the mind and body interact in that element. However, these chapters started to feel like lists of academic studies, with not much curation in terms of which research was valid or not (e.g. Hutchinson might recap a study and then say the results were never replicated). It's basically a dump of research on various topics without much of a meta-narrative beyond "mind and body both matter." Not a bad book, but I wasn’t able to stay engaged.
Profile Image for Jon Bettcher.
80 reviews3 followers
November 17, 2019
Very informative

A great look at human endurance, in all facets. It's partly a high-drama story of attempting to break the 2:00 hour marathon, a history lesson, and the current science behind how the body and mind work together to achieve a physical feat. The book can sometimes seem a bit dry due to the subject matter and the sheer magnitude of data that the author is trying to convey, but I'd say it was worth it to go into a bit more depth.
Profile Image for Quinn Rhodes.
43 reviews
August 10, 2020
Interesting look at the limits of human performance at the edge of our limits. Ultimately it offered a lot of insight into things that aren’t the popular belief (for example we don’t need to be guzzling gallons of water on a long bike ride), and showed that cognitive expectations in performance, like in most fields, are ultimately the final barrier to the next milestone.
Profile Image for Juan.
419 reviews3 followers
April 13, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Shaka Mitchell.
58 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2019
I suspect those who rate this book higher are high-performing endurance athletes who can employ their high pain tolerance in service of slogging through chapters of joyless text.

I digress. Several fine insights about the actual and perceived components of success but few conclusions.
Profile Image for Susannah.
Author 5 books2,385 followers
February 5, 2018
Perfect book for anyone gearing up for the Olympics. I'll post my NY Post feature on it when it runs...
24 reviews
January 7, 2020
Absolutely fascinating book about the limits of human endurance. Strikes the right balance between scientific and lay mans terms. Makes me want to go run. 🙂
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