In this section I list books, films and personalities that I learn and draw inspiration from.
Endure – Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson
We can’t help it but to be fascinated by how fast, or far or high humans can go. Athletes are constantly pushing to the extremes of human endurance, ever testing both physical and psychological limits. But what is our actual potential? What defines a person’s limits? Hutchinson presents an overview of science’s investigation into understanding human fatigue. He suggests that a key element in endurance is how the brain responds to distress signals. Hence we can train to endure much more by improving our brain response. It is the brain that dictates how far we can go—which means we can always push ourselves further if we train our brain right.
The Rise of the Ultra Runners – A journey to the Edge of Human Endurance by Adharanand Finn
Award-winning author Adharanand Finn looks inside the electrifying world of extreme distance running. He travelled to the heart of the sport to investigate the reasons behind the rise of ultra-running and discovered what it takes to join the ranks of these ultra-athletes. Finn relates his encounters with colourful characters of the ultramarathon world, and his own experiences of running ultras that extend into hundreds of miles, often in extreme environments. He uncovers the fascinating account of people testing the boundaries of human endeavour.
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson
I love this book! Ericsson argues that we do not need to have inborn or innate talent to excel in any field we desire to. He offers a powerful new approach to mastering almost any skill that is fundamentally different from the way we think traditionally. I really like the idea that we already have the seeds of excellence within us. All we need is to nurture and grow that potential. Peak offers invaluable advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating ourselves. I look forward to putting the principles to work.
Finding Ultra – Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming one of the World’s Fittest Men and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll
Rich’s midlife physical transformation is awe-inspiring. He was nearly fifty pounds overweight at forty but suddenly woke up and plunged into a plant-based lifestyle and daily training. In a matter of months he turned from out of shape to an endurance machine. His most gruesome achievement was to conquer the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island in less than a week. Rich reflects on the steps he took to shift his mindset and leverage on untapped potential to achieve success beyond his wildest imagination, urging each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery.
Run for Dream (2019)
A documentary recording Taiwanese ultra-marathon athlete Chen Yen-Po’s (aka Tommy Chen) exciting yet treacherous ten-year journey to become the champion in the world of extreme ultra-marathons. Tommy is the first ever Asian athlete to complete the 4 Deserts Race Series and achieved the title of World Champion, in 2016. There were no shortcuts for Tommy. It was all blood, sweat and tears and his relentless perseverance to continue. But no, I do not intend to race on deserts, plow through snowfields or trek as far as the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica.
Free Solo (2018)
No, I do not intend to nor advocate mountain rock climbing without ropes or safety gears. What Alex did can be called one of the most incredible athletic achievements in human history. Or it can also be described as one of the craziest, because failure means certain death. Behind this monstrous feat, what we don’t see is that he started climbing in gyms since he was 10 years old. His life has been centred on climbing for over 20 years and he built up his craft over time, slowly took on bigger and more challenging walls. His free solo climb on the 3,000-foot slab of granite in Yosemite on June 3, 2017 was was a culmination of a decade-long dream, planning and preparation.
The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014)
A documentary on a trail race created by ultrarunner Lazarus Lake as a mockery of a famously failed 1977 prison escape that lasted 54 hours. A tiny town in Tennessee is the most unlikely of places you would expect to find the hardest trail race in the world. The Barkley Marathons only accepts 35 runners each year, via secret application process. This cult like race tempts people from around the world to test their limits of physical and mental endurance in this documentary that contemplates the value of pain.