Alex Hutchinson is a Canadian journalist, Cambridge University trained physicist and ex-national level runner. He is also the author of a fantastic book called Endure – Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. The book is the product of a decade-long quest to explore the limits of human endurance, collating the experience and data of hundreds of athletes, explorers, scientists and experts in the field.

In our conversation Alex shares some of the findings from his work exploring the factors that determine the limits of endurance, as well as how we can do our upmost to push beyond the barriers that our minds and our mounting sense of effort can begin to erect when we are approaching our limits.

“The essence of pushing your limits in Endurance sports is learning to override that instinct so that you can hold your finger a little closer to the flame – and keep it there, not for seconds, but for minutes or even hours.”

Some of the topics we cover in Part 1 of our conversation include:

* The Central Governor Theory and why our brain stops us from going over the edge.
* The trainability of pain tolerance and why embracing discomfort is integral to endurance performance.
* Fallacies around hydration and what the science says.
* Nutrition – why low-carb high-fat diets have been promoted so heavily in the world of ultra-endurance, why glucose is still the fuel of choice for the top marathon runners, why making binary categories like I’ve just done is completely wrong when discussing fuelling a run with carbs/fat.

In Part 2 (coming next week), some of the topics discussed include:

* Ways to diminish your perception of effort and therefore enhance your performance.
* Why self-belief and positive self-talk can be so significant when trying to push to your limits.
* Alex’s involvement with Nike’s Breaking2 Project.
* Where does technology fit into all of this? Where does Alex see marathoning in the future?

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