“In a wide variety of human activity, achievement is not possible without discomfort.”
Let’s talk about limits.
What is your true ceiling? How do you frame the outer edge of your capabilities?
Are these checks and balances truth? or are they just beliefs you accept as fact?
How you answer these questions have profound implications not only on your perception of potential, but on virtually every significant decision you make, the challenges you agree to tackle and ultimately how you view yourself and the world you inhabit.
Today’s conversation asks us to rethink such restrictions — both self-imposed and external — suggesting that we are all capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. That, in a word, each and every one of us holds the power to transcend our sense of what is truly possible.
Because according to this week’s guest, limits are an illusion.
Meet Alex Hutchinson.
A National Magazine Award-winning journalist, Alex began his career as a physicist, putting his University of Cambridge Ph.D to work as a researcher for the U.S. National Security Agency. A two-time finalist in the 1,500 meters at the Canadian Olympic Trials, Alex spent his free time during the NSA years training and competing as a middle- and long-distance runner for the Canadian national team. By this I mean he is a good runner. Very good.
Alex subsequently received a masters in journalism from Columbia University and today he writes about the science of endurance for Runner’s World and Outside, while frequently contributing to little-known publications like the New York Times, The New Yorker and Toronto’s Globe and Mail. FiveThirtyEight recently named him one of their “favorite running science geeks” and he was also one of only two reporters granted access to cover Breaking2 — Nike’s top secret training project to break the two-hour marathon barrier.
I have been a fan and avid reader of Alex’s writing over the last few years. But what inspired me to invite him on the podcast is his phenomenal new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. A page-turning must read, it blends cutting edge science and incredible storytelling in the spirit of Malcolm Gladwell (who penned the foreword) to suggest the seemingly physical barriers we encounter when tackling a challenge are set as much by the brain as by the body.
In other words, the horizons of performance are much more elastic than we once thought.
Indeed, the new frontier of endurance is not the body, but the mind.
Borne from a decade of intensive research shadowing elite athletes and traveling to high-tech labs around the world, this conversation with Alex beckons us to better understand and ultimately more fully express express our innate abilities. And it’s a roadmap laden with strategies, techniques and tools to manifest that untapped potential lurking within.
Alex’s examination of limits is not restricted to physical performance. Defined broadly as “the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop,” Alex suggests that endurance is best understood as surprisingly universal, applicable to essentially every challenge we face, be it athletic, academic, professional or emotional.
So even if you are not an athlete, my hope is that this conversation and the book that inspired it will leave you rethinking your limits, so that you may reach higher, push farther, and ultimately become better in whatever discipline you are devoted to mastering.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.
En podcast från Rich Roll | Author | Ultra-Endurance Athlete | Wellness Evangelist