After devouring “Born to Run” and loving it more than any I’ve read in a long time, I was pumped to purchase ultrarunner start Scott Jurek‘s book, “Eat & Run.” In fact, I bought it on my Kindle the day it was available and started reading!
Though I’ve never done an ultra, I knew I would love what Scott had to say. I was right. I took much from it but what stands out the most is this: When you think you’ve done all you can do, gone as far as you can go — you can always do more and go further. That can be a medifore for life or a reality when doing long races.
I fully intend on taking Scott’s wisdom with me when I run my next marathon because you always have those moments when it hurts, when you want to stop. The key is to embrace the hurt (or “embrace the suck” as the sign at Crossfit says.) Become friends with it or it will be your worst enemy.
Scott’s painstaking accounts of his dozens of epic wins in everything from 50-milers to the 153-mile Badwater Marathon across the Death Valley to a 24-hour track race and more are fascinating to read. His dedication, training, mental power and determination are exhilerating and contagious.
Another highlight for me was Scott’s revelation that, though ultrarunning is a solitary and sometimes lonesome sport, he has made many of his best friends in that community. Before the competition, afterward, on the run — you have deep conversations and connect with those that “get” you in a way others don’t. That’s often how I feel about others who run marathons so I can only imagine how that effect is multiplied in the much smaller ultra running community.
Aside from recounting his childhood, epic races, and relationships throughout life, Scott talks a lot about his eating habits. Believe it or not the guy’s a vegan and let’s just say no one has ever made guacamole and corn tortillas sound so good in my life. Vegan? Mmm:
He speaks of how he started as a young runner eating McDonalds and whatever he wanted. Through trial and error, he began to discover that munching on brown rice before races — for example — seemed to produce optimal results. After experimenting with vegetarianism, he moved to veganism and even tried a raw diet for a time. He says food, tastes, individual flavors an more become much more potent, strong and true to their natural taste. It’s much more difficult to take in enough calories for all that he runs, but he explains in the book how he does and what kinds of foods he eats daily.
Each chapter ends with a recipe for a different vegan food — many of which I intend to try. Though I never intend to go vegan, I’ve considered trying to take a more vegetarian route at times. After reading this, I’d really like to try fueling for marathons with brown rice and some of the other pre-race fuel he suggests.
|Some ambitious peeps running the Badwater Ultramarathon in the desert (153 miles!)|
Like most of us runners know, Scott reiiterates that running is about much more than the physical act itself. It’s an embodiment of every challenge, high, low, ambition, problem, etc. that we encounter. It’s about tackling our issues, being the best we can be, working through the pain, sprinting in the joy and much more.
Scott Jurek is one of a kind — perhaps the greatest ultrarunner that has ever lived considering his many victories and continued pursuits. He seems like a really nice, thoughtful guy and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book. I’m pretty sad I missed meeting him when he was in Arlington a few weeks back. I’d most definitely like to sit down, drink a beer and have some corn chips and perfect guac with him to talk about running.