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Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance Hardcover – February 6, 2018
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“Makes the case that we’re actually underestimating our potential, and reveals how we can all surpass our perceived physical limits.” (Adam Grant, LinkedIn.com)
“If you want to gain insight into the mind of great athletes, adventurers, and peak performers then prepare to be enthralled by Alex Hutchinson’s Endure.” (Bear Grylls, Mt. Everest summiteer and host of NBC’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls)
“Fascinating (and motivating). ... Hutchinson sheds light on how humans accomplish our most absurd athletic achievements.” (Esquire)
“A perfect book for the armchair athlete. ... If you ever wonder, How do they do that? Hutchinson has the answers. ... Discovers that what we think of as our limits are set by our minds, not by our bodies.” (Success (”AHA! Reading List”))
“Alex Hutchinson’s Endure is so much more than a sports book. It is a voyage to the outer reaches of human capacity.” (DAVID EPSTEIN, author of Range and The Sports Gene)
“Hutchinson looks at the art and science of endurance, with a focus on running but with take-aways that can be applied to any project, mental or physical.” (Globe and Mail (Toronto))
“[Hutchinson] has a true gift for writing compelling sports stories and combining them with deft analyses of cutting-edge research. ... A captivating and often moving book with something to offer readers interested in health, athleticism, neuroscience, and the human condition.” (Kirkus (*starred review*))
“Persuasive and motivating. ... Transports readers to a realm where psychology, environment, and physiology all intersect.” (Booklist (*starred review*))
“Want to achieve more? Often that means you have to do more -- and Alex will show you how.” (Inc.)
From the Back Cover
LIMITS ARE AN ILLUSION: A REVOLUTIONARY ACCOUNT OF THE SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY OF ENDURANCE, REVEALING THE SECRETS OF REACHING THE EXTRA POTENTIAL WITHIN US ALL.
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 summiting 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’re capable of?
Blending cutting-edge science and gripping storytelling in the spirit of Malcolm Gladwell—who contributes the book’s foreword—award-winning journalist Alex Hutchinson reveals that a wave of paradigm-altering research over the past decade suggests the seemingly physical barriers you encounter are set as much by your brain as by your body. This means the mind is the new frontier of endurance—and that the horizons of performance are much more elastic than we once thought.
But, of course, it’s not “all in your head.” For each of the physical limits that Hutchinson explores—pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, fuel—he carefully disentangles the delicate interplay of mind and body by telling the riveting stories of men and women who’ve pushed their own ultimate limits in extraordinary ways.
The longtime “Sweat Science” columnist for Outside and Runner’s World, Hutchinson, a former national-team long-distance runner and Cambridge-trained physicist, was one of only two reporters granted access to Nike’s top-secret training project to break the two-hour marathon barrier, an extreme quest he traces throughout the book. But the lessons he draws from shadowing elite athletes and from traveling to high-tech labs around the world are surprisingly universal. Endurance, Hutchinson writes, is “the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop”—and we’re always capable of pushing a little farther.
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062499866
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062499868
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.05 x 9 inches
- Publisher : William Morrow; 1st edition (February 6, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The negatives : it reads like a PHD dissertation,studies after studies and after while is a little
too much. Is not reader friendly- I love books that in the end summarize all the points (I read 300 pages so what does it all means, tied it with a nice bow.) He ends with questions rather then answers. And the one answer he gives is -its all in your head.
Is that the secret to increase my endurance?
Top reviews from other countries
Reaching the limits of endurance is a concept that seems yawningly obvious until you actually try to explain it. He defines endurance as “the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop.” And the mind plays a huge role. However, the brain’s role in endurance is, perhaps, the single most controversial topic in sports science.
Not dead, could have done more
He quotes a coach’s observation about a 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.”
Studies have found that we can’t avoid pacing ourselves: your “maximum” force depends on how many reps you think you have left. It also turns out that, whether it is heat or cold, hunger or thirst, or muscles screaming with the supposed poison of “lactic acid,” what matters in many cases is how the brain interprets these distress signals.
Body and mind
With the rise of sophisticated techniques to measure and manipulate the brain, researchers are finally getting a glimpse of what’s happening in our neurons and synapses when we are pushed to our limits. They found that 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.
The British military has funded studies of computer-based brain training protocols to enhance the endurance of its troops, with startling results. Even subliminal messages can help or hurt your endurance: a picture of a smiling face flashed in 16-millisecond bursts, boosts cycling performance by 12 per cent compared to frowning faces.
Frame of mind
Another British study in 2012 showed that cyclists in a heat chamber went 4 per cent faster when the thermometer was rigged to display a falsely low temperature (26 instead of 32 degrees Celsius). The right frame of mind, in other words, allows you to push beyond your usual temperature limits.
You are operating at 65%
The brain’s task is to protect you. It is a survival machine. Read “Solve for happy“. Which is why pacing instinct is not entirely voluntary: your brain forces you to slow down, long before you’re in real physiological distress. So the brain plays a role in defining the limits of endurance. Most of us can summon about 65 per cent of our theoretical maximum strength.
Switch of the safety switch
For example, the fact that people can dive to three hundred feet or hold their breath for nearly twelve minutes tells us that oxygen’s absolute limits aren’t quite as constrictive as they feel, that we are protected by layer upon layer of reflexive safety mechanisms.
Change the settings
Average strength increases of 26.5 per cent after hypnosis. So the question is how can you change the settings of your brain? Can you gain access to at least some of the emergency reserve of energy that your brain protects? There’s no doubt that some athletes are able to wring more out of their bodies than others, and those who finish with the most in reserve would dearly love to be able to reduce that margin of safety. But is this really a consequence of the brain’s subconscious decision to throttle back muscle recruitment or is it, as a rival brain-centred theory of endurance posits, simply a matter of how badly you want it?
The science of anticipatory regulation
They found that the importance of any underlying physiological signal depends in part on how your brain receives and interprets it. The science of “anticipatory regulation”: getting your brain to use the knowledge that is gathered consciously, like an impending dive or a looming finish line, to activate or deactivate safety mechanisms that are otherwise purely unconscious. Endurance as second stage thinking. Managing a cognitive trait called response inhibition, which involves overriding your initial instinct, as a key.
The other things
That does not mean that you can ignore simple things such as temperature, oxygen, lactate, calories, proteins, fat, dehydration, pain tolerance and mostly effort.
So how do you improve your response inhibition and effort?
Manage perceived exertion
Pain training (apparently pain is fundamentally a subjective, situation-dependent phenomenon)
Train the brain to become more accustomed to mental fatigue
Test your capabilities, whatever you’ve done before, you can do again plus a little more
Create placebo effects
Create lucky charms
Apply acts of random kindness
Apply virtual reality (running against yourself)
Training in resilience
Training in non-judgmental self-awareness
Training in mindfulness
Again performance and mindfulness meet
All the techniques you find in most self-help books. Mind techniques to become a better athlete (or CEO). Teaching athletes that they can do more than they think they can. Knowing that their fiercest opponent will be their own brain’s well-meaning protective circuitry.
In short, there is more in there, if you’re willing to believe it.
The book really asks two questions:
1) What stops us from running ourselves to death?
2) ...And how can we push ourselves a bit closer?
The general idea is that our brain acts as a controller and makes sure that although we can push ourselves into the red zone, we stop before we explode.
The degree to which this is conscious or subconscious and how this management information is shunted about the body makes up quite a lot of the book.
The other part is how we can push ourselves closer to our absolute limit. The author covers everything from the benefits of motivational words to playing metabolic tricks on the body and running electric currents through the brain.
Unfortunately I came away a bit unsatisfied. The author himself points out that there seem to be a whole of ways to get a 1-3% boost. But these are not cumulative; using three of them simultaneously doesn't give a 9% boost...
The conclusion, then, is that the body holds back a bit more than 3% in reserve. You can access this various ways, but there simply isn't much else available!
(I guess that's not a criticism of the book as such, it's just a pity that the conclusion ends up being a bit banal...)
There is no magic bullet contained within the book, but there are plenty of takeaways that will make you think, and perhaps change the way you think, about being an endurance athlete.
It’s easy reading, but will it make me into a better athlete \ runner. Well maybe, because it reminded me that the foundation of being a better runner is training and resting. A lot of the rest is the icing on the cake, but good icing can make a cake.