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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  5,412 ratings  ·  539 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  5,412 ratings  ·  539 reviews

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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 ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 ...more
Phil Sykora
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon Nguyen
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running
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
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.
Nati S
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
As an amateur athlete trying to get stronger and improve my race time, I learnt many lessons while reading this book that will undoubtedly help me advance toward my goals. Most importantly, I learnt that endurance is an attribute of the body, both physical and mental, that can be cultivated and emerges as a result of discipline, commitment and complex adaptation as a result of physical exercise.

This book convincingly illustrates how an athlete can almost always push on further, much further,
Tiaan Stassen
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
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
Jacques Bezuidenhout
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
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect book for anyone gearing up for the Olympics. I'll post my NY Post feature on it when it runs...
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Parts of this were really interesting to me, but I tended to glaze over at a lot of the science detailed. I certainly respect the author's inclusion of so many studies and so much data in looking at the basic question "What is the key to human endurance? Is it mind? Body? Fuel? Training?" all to come up with the pretty much expected "Yep. All/None of the above". Still, some pretty good insight if you are an endurance athlete and a pretty interesting read for anyone interested in the potential of ...more
Ha Truong
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
There are some factors can influence the endurance that I can improve :D
+ Oxygen intake
+ Core body temperature
+ Mindfulness
Jon Bettcher
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Ron S
An entertaining look at the latest research into human performance, from Arctic explorers to Nike's recent siege on the 2 hour marathon record. Introduction by Malcolm Gladwell.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The full title of this book is actually very apt since it describes exactly what this book focuses on. There was a quite decent split between discussions and theories around how the mind affects performance versus the actual limits of the human body. Most of these discussions went quite deep into the scientific literature regarding each subject which made the book feel very well researched. However, if you're looking for practical advice and ideas on improving your own endurance performance, ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
What a great book! So much interesting science and anecdotes packed into a surprisingly easy read.
Alex Hutchinson is incredibly good at writing about complicated matters in a way that depicts several sides of the story, and at the same time is a lot of fun to read.

I really liked that the book utilizes knowledge and stories from several different disciplines, not just limited to sport, as well as including both lab studies and data from "the real world".
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘to those pushing back the limits of our species. Nothing is inevitable; nothing is simply mathematical’ - Alex Hutchinson

I enjoyed the vigorous research and compelling evidences presented in this book. We humans are not limited by the physical, but by what we believe we can do. So the next time I feel like giving up after a short run, I’ll remind myself that I can endure much more.
Lawrence Xie
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Anders Brabaek
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, exercise
This book is about how your mental limits affects your physical limits, and how great physical performances demands a mindset which can push through pain and suffering. It is about how you can “exercise your mind” to endure more.
The author presents a combination stories and research findings. Most of the examples are from long distances, e.g. marathons/Ironman to ultra-long distance races as well as insane trips to mountains or the Antarctic though there is also a chapter on “the hour” biking
Steve Pratt
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, if you are at all interested in exercise science without hyperbole.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This was a really interesting book, even though instead of coming out with a clear, provocative new claim the final result to almost all the central questions was: it depends. It was still interesting because so much of the research to get to "it depends" was really captivating. Besides, so many popular science books try to shoehorn complex theories into simple narratives to move more copies, and you've got to reward the integrity of a researcher who says, in effect, "I thought I'd have a cool, ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just as easily could have titled this book "Endurance: Why psychology matters more than physiology". It is a deep dive into the history of trying to understand endurance and where it actually comes from. Turns out many of those oft repeated athletic clichés are true. Despite attempts to measure and put limits on the capacity of the human body it's the mental state that ultimately is the most significant factor behind endurance.

People may be surprise to discover that endurance athletes still
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How far are you willing to suffer to push yourself to your physical limit? Hutchinson balances the three levers of motivation, perceived effort, and pain and how you can maximize them to push your muscles to their physical limits and override your mind. The premise is that people do not die of exhaustion so this means that your mind is stopping you from physically pushing your muscles to their extreme limits. He presents a strong case that mental training is crucial and elaborates on the ...more
Megan Moss
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Endurance has always been a topic I’ve been interested in. I grew up with a Dad that ran a 5 hour marathon as a 30-year-old and then later ran a sub three hour marathon as a 50-year-old. He was pretty dedicated to improving himself as a non-professional athlete. A lot of the terms I remember him telling me about where discussed in way more detail in this book.
This book was fascinating as the author asks several questions about endurance and uses studies and stories to try to answer them. I
Sujata Neidig
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough book to rate for me. I love running and really enjoyed reading about the different factors that effect endurance and especially how endurance is tied more to the brain/mind than physical attributes. He tells a few stories with the main one revolving around the Nike 2 program. He explains a TON of research from decades ago to now. For me, there was almost too much time spent on the research and not enough on the key-takeaways. Plus, he jumped back and forth from different ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, nonfiction, male
[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 ...more
Pavel Linshits
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How great to have a non-fiction book that's both rigorously researched and informative while being compulsively readable and inspiring in its own way. Gonna run a marathon next year after dithering about it for the last 12 months. With a wide range of sports, a fun cast of characters, and a dose of morbidness (as befits a book about human limits, it has its share of anecdotes about people who didn't know theirs and paid the ultimate price for it), this should be a good read for anyone, but the ...more
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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 ...more
“In a wide variety of human activity, achievement is not possible without discomfort.” 7 likes
“You judge what’s sustainable based not only on how you feel, but on how that feeling compares to how you expected to feel at that point in the race.” 3 likes
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