Human Endurance

David Schnurman | November 16, 2011

I just finished reading two books that opened up my eyes to the fact our bodies can be pushed much farther then our current mindset believes is the limit.  The two books are Ultra Marathon Man, "Confession of an All-Night Runner" and Lone Survivor, "The Eyewitness Account of the Operations Redwing & The Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10." Both available on our Kindle account.

Ultra Marathon Man is written by Dean Karnazes where he describes how at age 30 after being fed up after an office party he went home and could not go inside. Instead he went into the garage found some old tennis sneakers and starting running in his boxers and t-shirt.  What started as a hour turned into an all night run where after 30 miles he had to call his wife to pick him up.  This run rekindled something inside of him where through the pain of running he all of sudden once again felt alive.  The running became an obsession and soon enough he was running a 100 mile race through the mountains in a 24 hour time period.  It went as far as him running a 11 person 199 mile relay all by himself. Not once but several times. He would run for a full weekend straight with barely any rest.

Lone Survivor was written by Marcus Luttrell who was the only survivor on an ambush by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He survived for almost a week after the attack until he was rescued.  The first half of the book describes his experience at BUDs training course that all Navy Seals must pass before they start their actually skills training. The goal of BUDs is to weed at the weak. They only want those who want to be a Seal down to their core. Those who will do anything to make their dream become a reality. In this environment you are kept up for days on end and required to do some of the most demanding tasks that are painful to the core.  Netflix has a great 20 minute video on it to get a sense of some of the things they go through called Navy Seals: Class 234. As you can imagine most people dropped out.

What both of these books showed me if you have the right mindset you are capable of doing what initially seems impossible.  As Dean says in his book, mile 60 is not any easier then mile 30, in fact it is more then twice as painful.  However, for him it is that pain the let's him know he is alive. It is that pain that knows he is pushing himself. While the pain never got easier his ability to deal with it and use it to push him further is what made him successful.  What became clear in Lone Survivor, the experience during the BUDs training  allowed him to survive out in the mountains severely injured, with gun shot wounds and little or no sleep.  It was exactly what he done in BUDs and he was prepared to do it again.

Both of these individuals are amazing examples of human endurance at it's best and they are at the extreme end.  However, this is a message we can all apply to our daily lives. Too often as soon as many of us encounter some sort of pain or resistance we stop.  We think ok that is the limit we can take.  I promise you after reading these books you will NEVER feel that way  again.  In fact you will be inspired to keep pushing through the pain and hardship to see how much you can take and realize you are not even close to 10% of your limit.

On a more personal note, I am 4 days away from my first marathon.  Am I nervous? Sure.  However, I know I have done the proper training, I have run almost 400 miles, I did my max run at 20 miles and regardless of any setbacks I will finish even if slower then I want.  Most importantly I know that what 4 months ago seemed to be beyond my limit is now in my dead center aim.

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