Endure Book Summary By Alex Hutchinson

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Endure (2018) offers an in-depth look at the world of record-breaking athletes, exploring the mental and physical elements necessary to achieve incredible feats of endurance.

Through a combination of scientific research, interviews with some of the world's top athletes, and personal experience from author Alex Hutchinson himself, readers gain a deep understanding of what allows these athletes to push beyond their limits and reach new heights.

This book discusses how pain management plays a role in successful performance and what psychological strategies can help individuals power through grueling challenges.

It offers insight into how diet and nutrition affects an athlete's ability to endure, as well as the importance of developing an effective training plan.

Ultimately, Endure is a comprehensive resource for any athlete striving for peak personal performance.

Endure Book Summary

Book Name: Endure (Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance)

Author(s): Alex Hutchinson

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio

The author of the book Endure, Alex Hutchinson, is an award-winning journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine.

His work has been published in some of the world's top publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Globe and Mail and Runner’s World.

In addition to this impressive body of work he also holds a PhD in physics from Cambridge University, showcasing both his academic credentials as well as his passion for what he covers - fitness, running and endurance.

If you are seeking out information about these topics thenyou don't have to look any further than Alex Hutchinson's book - Endure.

Unlock The Secrets Of How Our Minds Push Our Bodies To Incredible Physical Performance

Physical Performance

When you think about the limits of human endurance, there’s a good chance you can envision a marathon runner pushing their body to the very brink and still managing to cross the finish line.

But have you ever wondered what it truly takes to make it over that line? How is one able to keep going when every bone in their body is screaming out in fatigue?

These are some of the questions that Alex Hutchinson has been asking since he began running with the Canadian National Team back in his grad-student days.

Through his studies and research, he has discovered that pushing our bodies beyond normal expectations is far more intricate than it may seem at first glance.

Much of this comes down to how our brains play an important role in telling our body when we should slow down and when we should push harder.

In Endure: Mind, Body, and The Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Hutchinson digs deeper into this complex science behind just how far we can take ourselves with regard to physical competition.

He also explores what eleven-year-olds can teach us about those who run marathons and why a race at the Dead Sea could potentially produce record breaking results.

Our bodies are capable of extraordinary feats, but if you want to unlock your full potential then you’ll need a better understanding of what it really means to hit “the wall”—the maximum limit of human endurance.

Exploring Human Endurance: The Tragic Story Of Henry Worsley And The Dangers Of Pushing Too Far

The ill-fated expedition of British explorer Henry Worsley serves as a tragic example of the consequences of pushing oneself to the limits of human endurance.

Worsley had set out on a solo journey across Antarctica, hoping to break new records and achieve something that had never been done before.

After 56 days, he was still going strong – until his body started to give out.

He endured 16 hour stretches, battling strong headwinds while gasping for air in the thin polar air.

But it soon became clear that travelling alone, and relying so heavily on a satellite phone for safety, meant that he was pushing himself far beyond what even a resilient person could handle; by this point he’d already lost 48 pounds in bodyweight.

When his organs finally shut down a week later and he passed away, the world was reminded of the lethal consequences of testing one’s limits too severely.

Despite our amazing capabilities as humans able to traverse extreme environments safely and successfully, not everyone can have such luck when pushing themselves beyond any reasonable limit – something we should all keep in mind.

It’S An Instinct: How We Develop The Ability To Pace Ourselves

When it comes to long-distance running, our bodies naturally know how to pace ourselves in order to finish with a force.

Studies have shown that world-class marathon runners tend to reduce their speed in the mid-section of the race, saving up energy for the final stretch when they ultimately accelerate and finish with a sprint.

Sports scientist Dominic Micklewight wanted to learn more about this phenomenon, so he conducted an experiment involving children between five and fourteen years old.

He discovered that those under the age of eleven would usually start off strong but slow down as the race continued.

On the other hand, kids aged eleven and up were found to conserve their energy by slowing down in the middle section before pushing themselves for that one last burst of speed at the end of the race.

Evidence suggests that this paced running response is instinctive and actually rooted in our evolutionary past as hunter-gatherers.

It’s believed that we programmed ourselves this way as a way of successfully hunting prey over long distances while still having enough energy left over if a successful kill was within reach.

The Mind Plays A Major Role In How Much We Can Endure


We all know how it feels to hit the wall during physical tasks.

It’s a feeling of complete and utter exhaustion, no matter what motivation you may have had.

However, this exhaustion isn’t just caused by physical effort– it’s also influenced by the mental fatigue that comes from having a tired brain.

In 2009, Samuele Marcora conducted a study which aimed to investigate how our brains affect endurance.

He divided the participants into two groups—one half were asked to play a mentally challenging computer game for ninety minutes while the other half were asked to watch a pleasant ninety-minute documentary.

Then all of them were tasked with exercising on a stationary bicycle until they reached exhaustion.

The results of his study showed that those who had watched the documentary lasted, on average, fifteen percent longer than those who had played the computer game – suggesting that the mental fatigue of playing such an intense game caused them to become exhausted sooner than their counterparts.

The Secret To Athletic Success: Training And Pain Tolerance Go Hand-In-Hand

It’s become a well-known fact that athletes have a higher tolerance for pain than average people.

Studies conducted by Dr.

Karel Gijsbers in 1981 showed that while the pain threshold between amateur and elite swimmers was the same, elite athletes were able to endure significantly more pain than the amateurs.


Gijsbers believed that this high tolerance for pain was due to training, and it appears to be true; subsequent studies performed by Oxford Brookes University found that athletes who train with short bursts of high intensity and therefore, higher levels of pain, made more progress than those who trained for longer but with less intensity.

It seems then, that the ability to tolerate more pain leads to improved performance.

This explains why we so often see some of the world’s best athletes pushing their limits in competition – they understand that doing so will give them an edge over their opponents and lead to better results in training as well as during competition.

From Breathing Techniques To Low Altitudes, Oxygen Intake Is Essential For Optimal Athletic Performance

When it comes to athletes performing at their best, oxygen intake plays an essential role.

An athlete’s maximum oxygen intake is measured through what’s known as VO2 max (volume, oxygen, maximum).

The more air a person can take in and circulate through the body, the better they’ll perform.

This is why Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie had such success during the 1990s.

With an incredible record-setting VO2 max of 96 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute, he was able to outperform competitors.

The average human capacity for VO2 max is 35 ml/kg/min, making his score remarkable.

Another example of its importance can be seen with Oskar Svendsen who had an even higher ranking than Daehlie with 97.5 ml/kg/min yet didn’t have quite as much success as a cyclist.

Athletes also benefit from competing at lower altitudes because there’s more oxygen available which results in better performances and potentially new world records – this was seen in Canberra University’s study when their runners failed to match times achieved elsewhere due to being located 577 meters above sea level.

Yannis Pitsiladis even suggests that a marathon should be held at the Dead Sea which is 400 meters below sea level in hopes that someone will eventually be able to break a two hour marathon time barrier!

How Core Temperature Affects Endurance In Athletes


In sports, it’s important for athletes to understand how their body temperature affects their endurance.

According to a study conducted in 1999 by José Gonzalez-Alonso of Copenhagen University, findings showed that an athlete’s core temperature is a strong indicator of their endurance.

The study tested seven athletes by having them cycle to exhaustion while they were bathed in water at either 36, 37 or 38 degrees Celsius.

It was determined that athletes with a core temperature of 36 degrees lasted twice as long as those heated up to 38 degrees.

Further research also revealed that participants called quits when the core temperatures reached between 40.0 and 40.3 degrees Celsius.

At the 2004 Olympics, these findings were taken into consideration and coaches began using cooling basins to reduce the athlete’s body temperature before competing.

Moreover, studies also showed that drinking an ice slushy before competitions could drop one’s internal temperature by 0.7 degree Celsius – which enabled the athletes to sustain higher core temperatures before exhaustion.

The Power Of Mindfulness: How Eastern Philosophies Are Helping Us Find Meaning In Endurance Training

Mindfulnes can do wonders when it comes to improving athletic performance and reducing stress levels.


Martin Paulus, a German neuroscientist, was among the first Westerners to recognize the power of mindfulness and its ability to improve physical performance.

To prove this hypothesis, he conducted a study in 2016involving soldiers near San Diego, CA.

During their MRI scan, he modified their oxygen supply while finding that those who had taken part in an eight week mindfulness program showed no signs of panic even when the supply of oxygen was low- indicating that they had successfully trained their minds to better cope with stressful situations.

On top of reducing stress levels and helping soldiers better manage high pressure scenarios, Dr.

Paulus also developed a mindfulness program tailored for athletes which emphasize on embracing pain, concentration, and self-compassion as well as increased awareness about how their bodies behave during activity- something which proved helpful for members of the US Olympic BMX team who reported measured improvements in their racing times after taking part in this program.

It is becoming increasingly evident by now that incorporating mindfulness techniques into our daily lives can be highly beneficial, from enabling us to better manage our stress levels while facilitating improved performance over time!

Unlocking The Mystery Of Human Endurance – How Neuropsychologist Kai Lutz Found Our Brain’S Limit And What We Can Do About It

Human Endurance

It has been long known that endurance is a physical reaction, however neuropsychologist Kai Lutz opened up a new avenue of investigation by looking at exhaustion from within the brain itself.

With the use of EEG scans, Dr.

Lutz observed what regions of the brain activated before athletes reached their point of exhaustion.

He identified that the first two areas to show signs of fatigue were the insular and motor cortices.

Located near the base of the cerebral cortex, these two cortices are found at the center of the brain and have become known as its “endurance centers”.

It was found that shortly before athletes gave up, these cortices would be triggered, sending a signal to our muscles which lead them to call it quits soon afterwards.

Two theories have since surfaced regarding how we might manipulate these cortices in order to delay exhaustion.

The first suggests that neurons in the insular cortex could be suppressed which may in turn reduce weaknesses in other parts of our bodies such as our muscles.

This theory has been tested with promising results – cyclists who received transcranial direct-current stimulation saw an improvement in racing time by 4%.

The second hypothesis puts forth that neurons in motor cortex should be stimulated so as to prevent signals from being sent out by insular cortex, though this has not yet been proven successful due to accuracy issues with transcranial direct-current stimulation technology.

Ultimately, while many scientific advancements have been made over recent years when it comes to human endurance, it appears as though there is still much progress needed before we can take complete control over our own endurance capabilities.

It’s safe to say then, that for now -the areas most related to endurance are still most certainly found between those two crucial cortices situated deep within our brains: The Insular Cortex and Motor Cortex.

Wrap Up

The overall message that Endure conveys is one of resilience, both physical and psychological.

For optimum results in sports, a person needs to practice as well as take into account the various physiological and psychological factors at play when it comes to endurance activities.

This includes core body temperature, oxygen intake capacity, experienced effort levels, and tolerance for pain.

Actionable advice from this book suggests that an athlete should use whatever methods work for them – even if it is just a placebo – to help with their recovery after physical exertion.

Ice-baths may not actually reduce inflammation directly but they can still be of use if they make an athlete feel better and assist with recovery.

Ultimately, belief plays an important part in achieving good athletic performance.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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