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.
June's pick is: "Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition": Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll
Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever
On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.
Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.
In the years since Finding Ultra was published, Rich has become one of the world’s most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In this newly revised and updated edition, he shares the practices, tools, and techniques he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols. Rich reflects on the steps he took to shift his mindset and leverage deep reservoirs of untapped potential to achieve success beyond his wildest imagination, urging each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery.
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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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