Review and Highlights: Endure

Endure Book Cover

Building endurance is a never ending mystery for anyone who is deeply invested into this sports category. Obviously, people are struggling to unlock new level of stamina and achievement in every weekly training. However, there must be a day when we are wondering the possibility of leveling up our mentality instead so we could push our body longer.

A researcher, journalist, and scientist, Alex Hutchinson, helps us to get insights on what actually limits us in Endure: Mind, Body, and The Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Every part of our body, from our physical to our mind, was broken down with a well-explained experiments that has been performed by well-reputed researchers and supported by narrative stories from elite athletes.

I am a fan of Hutchinson’s previous book, Which Comes First: Cardio or Weights?, where he explained point-to-point and comprehensible knowledges in health and fitness. So, I thought it was reasonable that I could earn the similar presentation and knowledge in terms of endurance from this book. Unfortunately, I found myself frequently got lost by the anecdotes that I could not really grasp Hutchinson’s intention behind the long paragraphs. Moreover, some research with no clear outcome were illustrated and I believe I was not the only reader who dismayed at the end of the chapter. Still, I discovered a lot of solid and worthwhile concepts to train my endurance up.


How caffeine boosts strength and endurance?

  • caffeine → inactivating receptors responsible for detection of adenosine, a molecule related to mental fatigue → we can work harder and longer.

In compare to amateurs, pro athletes are more superior in:

  • the size of hearts
  • lactate threshold
  • response inhibition
  • years of training
  • the number of capillaries feeding muscles.

How to boost mental endurance?

  • repeated cognitive tasks to shape brain endurance that can give us an edge.



  • athletes are more exposed in pain during training → more resistant in pain
  • a little pain → helps us pace
  • too much pain → slows us down
  • subduing pain is correlated to the improvement in endurance .

Pain threshold

The amount of contractions we have to do to generate a pain.

Pain tolerance

The amount of contractions before we gave up and correlated to the type of training we do.


Awareness phase

  • the desire to breathe starts to reveal under our consciousness
  • you can disregard this if you are at the point wanting to suffer
  • if you constrain past this phase, there will be a rise of carbon dioxide in blood rather than oxygen → reflex diaphragm contraction.



  • a process of adaptation to exercise in hot weather to let your heart stay low.
  • this process takes approximately 2 weeks. This is the reason why the National Athletic Trainer’s Association recommend restriction of football practice in full intensity during the first fourteen days.

Drinking cold drink before sports event in hot conditions

  • to lower our body’s initial temperature → elevate endurance in heat and force to a higher core temperature before tired.
  • as the ice goes through our mouth and throat, we also might cooled our brain. Thus, it could determine our thermal limits and let us push longer even as the rest of our body heats up past our usual limits.


Our brain detect loss of fluids and thirst increase the sense of perceived effort to slow us down. If we ignore the signs of thirst → consequences of dehydration happens: tension in cardiovascular system → our core temperature rise as the volume of blood in arteries decreases.


Dehydration decreases the availability of blood to shunt heat to skin. At tough situation, it could interfere our perspiration process.

Long racers have more time to sweat and have higher risk to be dehydrated while athletes in shorter duration of race have more concern in heatstroke.

How to avoid heatstroke?

Drink as much as you can tolerate but also do not too obsess to drink.


Basic fuel for body


  • to build and repair muscles after resistance exercise.
  • directly fueling muscle contractions.

Carbohydrate and fat

  • easy exercise, such as walking, burn mostly fat from circulating bloodstream. As you speed up, more carbohydrate is burned and by the time you are breathing heavily, the proportions of fat-carbohydrate are switched and ended up burning mostly carbohydrate. As you get fitter, fat will be burned more at any speed.

What to eat before marathon?

A small breakfast a few hours before the marathon is essential.

Training The Brain

  • All training is brain training, even if it does not intentionally target the brain
  • Effort is what causes us to slow down or stop.
  • Brain endurance training is remain full of controversy and under further study.

Author: Alex Hutchinson

Publication date: 6 February 2018

Publisher: Custom House

Number of pages: 333 pages


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