Alex Hutchinson

Alex Hutchinson

Human Performance Expert | Award-Winning Journalist | Bestselling Author

Many believe our limits are defined by physical traits, but Alex Hutchinson knows that limits only exist in our minds. An award-winning science journalist, Alex draws on his experiences as an elite long-distance runner for Canada’s national team and as a scientist to explore the limits of human performance and understand the subtle factors that define champions. His New York Times bestselling book Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance was recently a featured read for the Next Big Idea Club curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink.

Shortly after competing in his second Canadian Olympic Trials, Alex decided to leave his postdoctoral physics research post with the U.S. National Security Agency to pursue a master’s degree in journalism — and has never looked back. He is currently a columnist and contributing editor for Outside and Canadian Running magazines, and also writes for the New Yorker’s Elements blog on science, endurance, health, and human performance. He is most well-known for debunking health and fitness hype as the Globe and Mail’s Jockology columnist.

In 2008, Alex received a U.S. National Magazine Award for his work covering technology for Popular Mechanics, and in 2012 he received a Lowell Thomas Award for his travel writing in the New York Times.

Alex has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He has given talks on endurance and human performance to audiences ranging from the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Own The Podium program to investment bankers and funeral home directors.


The Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

How do you know when you’ve reached your maximum potential? For athletes, you might think the answers would be found in their muscles or lungs or blood vessels. But at the highest levels of competition, everyone has similar physical tools—and what separates the winners is what’s going on in their brains. Over the past decade, neuroscientists have begun to tease out the factors that allow top performers to keep pushing long after their rivals have quit: mindset and self-belief; social links and team dynamics; an appropriate balance between stress and recovery; a clear sense of purpose. The resulting insights about how to push through brain-imposed barriers apply as much in the boardroom as on the mountaintop or playing field.

The Quest for the Two-Hour Marathon

In October 2019, marathoner Eliud Kipchoge ran 42.2 kilometers along a specially designed course in Vienna in an astounding time of one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. But breaking through the seemingly impregnable two-hour barrier wasn’t a solo job. It was the culmination of more than five years of work and tens of millions of dollars of innovation by physiologists, biomechanists, nutritionists, and other experts. Alex Hutchinson was one of two reporters granted exclusive access to follow the two-hour quest right from the start, and his behind-the-scenes look at what it took to shatter the barrier offers a case study in how technological innovation, human factors, and teamwork can take performance into uncharted territory.

The New Science of Fitness in the Pandemic Era

Some of our favourite forms of exercise—running a charity 5K, joining a crowded yoga class—are off the table for the foreseeable future. And with more of us working from home and shopping online, we’re also losing the snippets of movement and fresh air that used to punctuate our days. But it’s increasingly clear that simply moving our workouts online and into the living room isn’t enough to optimize mental and physical health.

In this virtual presentation, human performance expert Alex Hutchinson offers a practical guide to science-based fitness in the new normal.

Audiences will learn:

  • How to judge the risks and benefits of different forms of physical activity.
  • How much exercise is too much (or too little) to optimize immune function.
  • The two-way interaction between mental stress and physical performance.
  • How to navigate the psychological differences between solo and group workouts.
  • The key elements of a successful and sustainable home workout routine.

This virtual session includes a 45-minute presentation, plus Q&A. Length can be customized to meet audience needs.

The Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

How do you know when you’ve reached your maximum potential? For athletes, you might think the answers would be found in their muscles or lungs or blood vessels. But at the highest levels of competition, everyone has similar physical tools—and what separates the winners is what’s going on in their brains.

Over the past decade, neuroscientists have begun to tease out the factors that allow top performers to keep pushing long after their rivals have quit. Human performance expert Alex Hutchinson shows how the resulting insights on pushing through brain-imposed barriers apply as much in the boardroom as on the playing field—and have particular resonance as we face a pandemic that is taxing our endurance in unprecedented ways.

Audiences will learn:

  • How mindset and self-belief create measurable changes in your physiology.
  • How social links and team dynamics enhance individual performance.
  • Why stress and recovery are both essential to optimal performance.
  • Strategies to overcome the negative effects of mental fatigue.
  • Why it’s important to be able to “see the finish line” when pursuing ambitious goals.

This virtual session includes a 45-minute presentation, plus Q&A. Length can be customized to meet audience needs.