Episode #220: Expanding the Limits of Human Endurance with Alex Hutchinson

Alex Hutchinson is National Magazine Award-winning journalist who writes about the science of endurance for Runner’s World and Outside, and frequently contributes to other publications such as the New York Times and the New Yorker. A former long-distance runner for the Canadian national team, he holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia and a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge, and he did his post-doctoral research with the National Security Agency.


He’s just released his third book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, which has been praised by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, simply as “amazing”.


As somebody who has always experimented with different ways to optimise my own physical and mental condition, I really enjoyed this conversation with Alex and trust that you will learn a lot from it, including:


  1. The false dichotomy of body and mind
  2. What our limit breakers are
  3. How to expand those limits
  4. Which is better high fat diets or carbo loading
  5. And also, a number of memorable stories of human triumph over self imposed walls.


Topics discussed:

  • Alex’s definition of endurance
  • Mind over matter: is it that simple?
  • What our tangible limit breakers are
  • The story of Tom Boyle lifting a car of an injured bicycle rider
  • The power of purpose
  • Ketogenic diets v carbo loading
  • Tricking your brain to perform
  • Tools and tactics to expand your limits such as mindfulness, self-talk, journaling, brain stimulation, VR and more
  • The importance of getting the basics right: sleep, exercise, nutrition
  • Which neural characteristics separate elite endurance athletes from the rest of us
  • The power of belief effects versus placebo effects
  • Nike’s ‘Breaking 2’ campaign
  • The most surprising findings from the book


Show notes:

  1. Alex’s website: https://alexhutchinson.net/
  2. Get the book: www.amazon.com/Endure-Curiously-Elastic-Limits-Performance/dp/0062499866/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
  3. Articles: runnersworld.com/sweat-science  and on www.outsideonline.com   
  4. Twitter: @sweatscience


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