In his new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Alex Hutchinson tries to synthesize to wave of recent research on how the mind and body control human performance. In the end, he writes, the competing theories all come down to effort. Effort is what matters. On this week’s episode we discuss his book, how effort can be trained, and great examples of some of these theories in practice.
Notes and quotes
In addition to talking about his book and some of the central players in this topic, we also talk about examples of how such ideas impact training, what to think about when training, the role of barriers, the Boston marathon, and the next steps in research.
- 3:00 – How a numbers geek started focusing on less quantifiable topics like self belief. “Running should be mathematical, but it’s not. “
- 7:00 – Noakes and the central governor theory.
- 10:45 – Marcora, mental fatigue, and differences from the central governor theory. “Is it the body protecting itself, or a choice? Both come down to effort. “
- 15:15 – The recent wave of experimental evidence, and proof of concept. “Recent research help provide a proof of concept for what coaches have already been doing. If you are an elite athlete, isn’t much of your training already mentally taxing? “
- 17:00 – Making training mentally taxing and demanding: examples from Igloi, Joyner, and Centrowitz. “The whole point is to learn to handle it, not avoid it. “
- 25:00 – Overhype. “The point isn’t to go play a computer game, the point is to understand that if you are not cognizant of the mental aspect. If you are not on the ball mentally, you are leaving something on the table. “
- 26:30 – Effort: “The really good athletes tune into their body; they know the effort. “
- 29:15 – Association and dissociation: “If you think too much about your effort, it can make your effort higher. Good runners associate without obsessing. “
- 33:30 – Just do it.
- 38:00 – Barriers, language, and perception.
- 43:00 – Reflections on the Boston marathon.
- 48:00 – Next steps in research.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- The monthly theme on HMMR Media is training speed, with numerous articles, podcasts, and videos looking at the topic from different perspectives. For a summary of our top resources on developing speed, click here. Join HMMR Plus so you don’t miss all the content on this topic.
- If you haven’t already, pick up his newest book: Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. You can also check out his prior book Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise.
- You can also follow Hutchinson on twitter @sweatscience. He also writes frequently for Outside Magazine.
- Another great recent interview with Hutchinson can be found over on the On Coaching Podcast.
- Human limits was also a topic on GAINcast 59 with Michael Joyner and GAINcast 112 on breaking barriers.