The Bookworm Sez: Find everyday relevance in ‘Endure’

The Bookworm Sez: Find everyday relevance in ‘Endure’

You need a shave.

It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming and growing, you’re long overdue – so, maybe just a little off the top. You’ll feel a lot better when you do, and in the new book “Endure” by Alex Hutchinson (c.2018, Wm. Morrow, $27.99, 306 pages), you’ll see how your body will adapt on track, path, ocean, drift, and desert.

Prior to 1954, it was believed that the human body was physically incapable of running a mile in less than four minutes – until the late Roger Bannister put that notion to rest quite handily. As for today, the belief that a marathon of 26.2 miles can’t be finished in under two hours still holds – but barely.

When it comes to endurance, effort, and the human body, we’ve long been fascinated with possibilities; the questions, in fact, go back centuries and countless tests and studies have been (and are being) done to determine answers when a hundredth-of- a-second means something. Still, one thing’s for sure: says Hutchinson , “the will to endure can’t be reliably tied to any single physiological variable.”

Much of the matter of endurance has to do with “the need to override what your instincts are telling you to do…” Perhaps not surprisingly, it very much has to do with the brain, “but not in the simple it’s-all-in-your-head manner of self-help books.” The science of it all is “complex,” made even more so by outliers who, for any number of reasons, can and do achieve beyond preconceived limits – which is to say that we still don’t know where the “ultimate limits” lie.

The stories, even so, are tantalizing.

Hutchinson writes of Henry Worsley who, at age 48, tackled a South Pole trek that “demanded every ounce of his reserves.” Hutchinson shows how early scientists helped save the lives of the men who built Hoover Dam. He examines how we pace ourselves, sometimes sub-consciously; why we do better after we’ve suffered; and how hypnosis may increase strength. He explains how deep diving and high climbing pose the same questions; why marathon runners are shrinking; why thirst shouldn’t matter; what diet can do; and how none of this may matter in the future.

We’ve all known that can’t-go-another-inch feeling, when a surprising well of reserve is suddenly present. Where did that come from? And can you utilize it at will? In “Endure,” you’ll see, but first: this is not just a book for athletes.

While it’s true that author Alex Hutchinson writes extensively about men and women who participate in extreme, even elite, sports, the lip-biting anecdotes inside “Endure” prove that this is a book for anyone who might find themselves in inclement weather or unusual situations. Yes, it’s mostly about athletic endurance, but its everyday relevance lies in the science Hutchinson brings which, though sometimes a bit too deep for the casual reader, is applicable whether you run to finish line or fridge.

Athletes and trainers, of course, will soak this book up, and adventurers will jump for it. Even couch potatoes should enjoy it because “Endure” is razor sharp.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in News

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Offshore oil plan envisions a single Cook Inlet sale

The proposed 2023-2028 plan is similar to the just-ended Obama administration five-year plan

People line the streets in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022 for the annual Independence Day parade. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Red, white and blue all day

Kenai turns out for parade, activities to celebrate Independence Day

A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
StoryWalk is back after vandalism

The installation was discontinued last September after someone damaged the poles and podium plexiglass

Shawn Dick of Talkneetna carries a fresh catch out of the water while dipnetting on the Kenai Beach on July 10, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai River dipnetting opens this month

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens July 10

The sun is seen shining above the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 14, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clario file)
When the temperature hits 70, Alaskans feel the heat — and start suffering health ills

Acclimatization, the angle of the sun at high latitudes and other factors make summer heat more intense in Alaska

A map shows active fires around the state of Alaska on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Screenshot from Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map)
Fire danger prompts restrictions on burning, fireworks

There were 160 fires in Alaska as of Thursday, and of those 17 were staffed with fire personnel

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara are photographed in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices Thursday in Kenai. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Gara, Cook campaign on the Kenai Peninsula

The pair cited education funding, reproductive rights and election security as priorities

A map shows the Seward Highway MP 17-22.5 Rehabilitation Project area. The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 — from about Primrose Campground to near Teddy’s Inn The Woods — will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18, 2022. (Screenshot)
Roadwork in Moose Pass to shut parts of Seward Highway

The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18

Most Read