What’s making athletes faster, better, stronger: David Epstein at TED2014

One interesting point Epstein brought up was “the brain acts as a limiter,” and I have never looked at the brain that way. He says, “Human beings are pushing themselves to take on greater physical feats than ever before, which requires a mental push too. “The brain acts as a limiter, preventing us from accessing all our resources to prevent us from hurting ourselves,” says Epstein. “The more we learn how that limiter functions, the more we can learn how to push it back.”

This reminded me of Michael Jordan’s quote, “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” If we can recognize the things that we feel are limiting us, we can attack those limits and push ourselves even harder…past the points of our limitations. Limits are our own constructions, and today we are seeing people understand that we can live with fewer or no limitations at all.

 

TED Blog

David Epstein. Photo: James Duncan Davidson David Epstein. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” or, in English, “Faster, higher, stronger.” And as sports science reporter David Epstein points out from the TED2014 stage, “Athletes have fulfilled that motto — and they’ve done so rapidly.”

Epstein investigates why it is that, year upon year, runners, swimmers, gymnasts, basketball players and so many others are able to push their sports to new levels. Epstein says that it comes down to three factors: changing technology, changing genes and changing mindsets.

Epstein, the author of the book The Sports Gene, starts by taking a look at runners. The winner of the 2012 Olympic marathon would have beat the winner of the marathon of the 1904 Olympic marathon by more than 1 hour and 20 minutes. Similarly, at last year’s World Championships, 100-meter-dasher Usain Bolt beat the world record set by Jesse Owens in 1936…

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