“It’s not just like you can have a bad race because you get too nervous. No. The very essence of, in the middle of a race, you’re asking yourself, ‘Can I maintain this pace? Can I speed up? Can I slow down?’ And that decision, which you’re asking yourself with every stride essentially, is not answered by, ‘I can’t speed up because some physical parameter is maxed out,’ because it’s not—it’s clearly not, you can keep going. Instead, it’s maxed out by your brain’s assessment of how hard you’re going and whether that is something that is sustainable and will get you to the finish line. And so fundamentally, you make that switch that, ‘Oh no, at every point, unless I collapse on the ground, at every point through a race, it’s been my mind that’s deciding whether I can keep going or whether I can speed up or not.’”
Alex Hutchinson is the author of the New York Times best-seller Endure, which is one of my favorite books of the past few years, he’s a contributing editor at Outside magazine, where he writes the Sweat Science column, and his byline has also appeared in numerous other publications.
We recently had a great conversation about writing, running, and the path he’s followed in both of those disciplines. We also talked about the concept of endurance, which he wrote an entire book about, the limits on our potential, the future of connected fitness, and a lot more.