Slowly, slowly creeping through, it feels like at the moment, I’ve ticked another one off my 20 Books of Summer books list (intro post here) and my last May 2021 acquisition (I bought this in May 2021 from the local Oxfam Books along with “The Pants of Perspective“, and I can report that I have now read all five of the “books in” I listed in mid May (here).

This is the tenth book I’ve completed from the 20 Books project and of course also comes off my TBR 2021-2022 challenge pile. I got a bit bogged down in my massive Larry McMurtry and then finished this one but didn’t have time to write up the review, so I am part-way through Angie Thomas’ “On the Come Up” but I feel I’m not going to manage my 20 Books of Summer this time (again). Having said that, I only have three NetGalley books published in August plus one to finish, rather than the nine I read this month, so who really knows?

Alex Hutchinson – “Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance”

(09 May 2021 – Oxfam Books)

Part of the challenge is that endurance is a conceptual Swiss Army knife. It’s what you need to finish a marathon; it’s also what enables you to keep your sanity during a cross-country flight crammed into the economy cabin with a flock of angry toddlers. The use of the word endurance in the latter case may seem metaphorical, but the distinction between physical and psychological endurance is actually less clear-cut than it appears. (p. 9)

As a long-distance runner of a very amateur and slow kind and big book-reader, I do like a sports book, and I enjoy reading about psychology, sociology and sports science. So I was attracted to this book about what exactly affects endurance sportspeople and I was not disappointed.

While it takes a deep dive into both physiological and psychological aspects of endurance sports (and other ones, sprinting and middle-distance stuff coming into it, too), with chapters on fuel, hydration, heat and then brain training and belief, Hutchinson wears his learning and research lightly, as probably befits someone who writes for popular but niche publications like Runner’s World. It’s well-referenced, with the authors of studies noted in the text and references listed by page number and a text extract, although there isn’t a separate bibliography.

Two even more attractive points about the book: he’s woven through it short chapters on the first iteration of the Nike project to produce an under-two-hour marathon run, and as a decent runner himself, he uses himself as both an example and a guinea pig in some experiments (while being clear on how he doesn’t tend to review or write about his own experiences with tech in his journalistic work). This makes it approachable and immediate. He writes with humanity about researchers and their subjects.

What is the outcome of the book? Well, I suppose you should read it to find out, but it’s part physical, part mental, effort and its perception plays a huge part in endurance (but you can’t trick that perception too often) and there’s much to learn on the topic.

This was book number 10 in my 20 Books of Summer 2022!

This was also TBR Challenge 2021-22 Quarter 4 Book 4/28 – 24 to go!