THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell
Limits are an illusion: discover the revolutionary account of the science and psychology of endurance, revealing the secrets of reaching the hidden extra potential within us all.
"A voyage to the outer reaches of human capacity.” —David Epstein, author of Range
"Reveals how we can all surpass our perceived physical limits." —Adam Grant
The capacity to endure is the key trait that underlies great performance in virtually every field. 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 as 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 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.
In this intricate and probing exploration, Hutchinson, an Outside magazine columnist and avid runner, chases down various theories concerning how the brain and body work together to either limit or stretch the boundaries of human endurance. In delving into this puzzle, Hutchinson finds many contradictions: for instance, at times pain slows athletes to a halt, and at "other times it drives them to even greater heights." Though a good portion of the text is devoted to running (including a recap of one of Hutchinson's own races), readers are also treated to the trials and tribulations of motorcyclists, mountain climbers, free divers (who risk their lives by diving without oxygen tanks), elite race walkers, and other athletes, as well as to commentary by the scientists and sports physiologists who study them. Hutchinson examines how the brain and body interact, observing, "Your brain is looking out for your well-being in ways that are outside your conscious control and that kick in long before you reach a point of actual physiological crisis." Readers seeking simple answers or straightforward workout directives won't find them in Hutchinson's intriguing study, but they will be prompted to think deeply about how human limits can be transcended.
Great book! Lot of reseach.