Welcome to the Chaski Book Club. Your home for reading books about and/or in the context of endurance sport.
We read a new book each month, with weekly discussion prompts as well as space for open conversation. You can join the conversation in our Chaski Book Club Facebook Group.
July's pick is: "A Life Without Limits": A World Champion's Journey by Chrissie Wellington
In 2007, Chrissie Wellington shocked the triathlon world by winning the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. As a newcomer and a complete unknown to the press, Chrissie's win shook up the sport. A Life without Limits is the story of her rise to the top, a journey that has taken her around the world, from a childhood in England, to the mountains of Nepal, to the oceans of New Zealand, to the trails of Argentina, and finally, across the finish line.
Wellington's first-hand, inspiring story includes all the incredible challenges she has faced - from anorexia, to near-drowning, to training with a controversial coach. But to Wellington, the drama of the sport also presents an opportunity to improve people's lives.
A Life without Limits reveals the heart behind Wellington's success, along with the diet, training, and motivational techniques that keep her going through one of the world's most grueling events.
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This Week's Conversation
Early exercise physiologists postulated the human body as a machine and theorized that the athlete with the perfect vitals would be able to run the perfect race. Oxygen intake is one attribute they believe which had a direct influence on an athlete’s abilities. During training, athletes can measure their maximum oxygen intake through their "VO2max"--the equivalent of the body’s horsepower. The more oxygen a person can take in (the bigger their engine is), and circulate through their body, the better they’ll perform – especially in endurance sports. An athlete can improve their VO2 max efficiency by running intervals for 2-3 minutes at their “VO2 Max” pace (which is a pace a moderately fit person can sustain for roughly 6 to 8 minutes).
Training at your VO2 max and lactate threshold paces, building muscle strength, improving lung capacity and other factors all contribute to your endurance. They improve your vitals - however they also teach you how to better endure pain. The original theory was that the athlete with the best vitals would be able to break the 4 minute mile. "Endure" lays out numerous examples that these factors, while important, are not the full picture. Early research continues to be challenged. We see this in the hour ride and in Nike's infamous quest to break the 2 hour marathon.
Is an individual’s physical limit set by their body or their brain? Highly skilled athletes feel pain, but it is their pain tolerance, their ability to endure and push through that pain that allows them to go further than others.
What have you found most interesting about Hutchinson's research?
What tactics do you use to push through the pain and continue on?
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