Many people first heard of Scott Jurek due to Chris McDougall's "Born to Run", although I think I had had heard of him through Runner's World. I must confess, I was anxiously awaiting the publication of this book, admiring it on Amazon and counting the days until June 5th. Then I had an opportunity to get it early--yippee!
Scott Jurek is an ultrarunning legend. Not only has he won Western States 100 seven times, but to do it he has run on torn ligaments and stepped on a rattlesnake (or maybe that was Badwater)and overcome countless other obstacles along the way. In any case, he's amazing, and many athletes think he is all the more amazing because he does all of this on a vegan diet. I admit to being intrigued about a vegan diet, and for anyone considering such a lifestyle change I found the book helpful. It's dotted with recipes, and I really like Scott's attitude--it's not holier-than-thou at all. He merely emphasizes that the three most common causes of death in the Western world are all diet and lifestyle related.
You wouldn't think someone who can run 165 miles at a stretch would be relatable, but he is! He's smart and funny and thoughtful and sometimes he seems like anyone else, if they happened to be running ridiculous distances. At one point during a race he's so miserable he starts looking for a sidewinder, figuring if he gets bit he can quit without guilt. I can totally relate to that! I have had similar thoughts--if I get eaten by this bear I won't have to climb this God-forsaken hill. I'm sure others have as well.
Very entertaining, and for the casual runner, like me, very inspiring. I don't think I'll go vegan--I like dairy and eggs a LOT--but I am putting some more thought into what I eat and eating more veggies and fruits, and I think Scott would approve.
on June 27, 2012
Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run, is inspiring in so many ways. Although I don't (yet) aspire to be an ultramarathoner, I am a consistent runner (max out at 26.2 races) who greatly appreciates the solitude, freedom, introspection, and feeling of wholeness that comes from running. This is not a book just for ultra-runners. For anybody who is serious about body/mind/spirit issues, I think this book is an excellent resource whether a recreational runner, a frequent racer (no matter the distance), cyclists, and even elite athletes from other sports who will appreciate the discussion about performance, nutrition, competition, camaraderie, and self-doubts.
A handful of things I appreciated about the book:
- The coming of age aspect of the book: In this sense, Scott's life journey is told more like a novel than a biography. The transparency into Scott's life (both good stuff and bad stuff) as it related to his underdog social status as a kid, his relationship challenges with his father, the tragedy with his mother's sickness, and his circle of friends helped create a meaningful feeling of a kid who faced both normal and abnormal struggles in life while searching for meaning and striving to overcome.
- Character development: Again, although this is not a novel, Scott and Steve Friedman did a fantastic job developing the various `characters' in the book. We got to know people really well. So well, in fact, that if I was left wanting at the end of the book, it was to know more about some of these people in Scott's life (Dusty, first wife, Dad, brother & sister, coach)
- The philosophical nature of the book: Scott's musings on why things happen, how and why you have to knuckle down and "sometimes you just do things," finding good in the bad, and grappling with spiritual concepts as he wrestled with where he fit into the bigger world, etc...these aspects of the book made it `real' and readable.
- The humility Scott seems to exhibit and the respect for his sport: Admittedly, Scott Jurek has accomplished phenomenal and unimaginable things in the sport of ultra-running. Legendary status is rightly bestowed up him. And yet, he has obviously spent a lot of time wrestling with why winning is or isn't important, the balance of giving so much to a sport and yet being given so much back (friendships, character, courage, etc.), the fleeting aspects of success, the challenging unintended results that come with fame (relationship stress, marital strife), and the true meaning behind who we are and what we do.
- The journey into healthy eating: While I don't think my lifestyle will ever be fully conducive to a full-on vegan lifestyle, I was encouraged to do even better with my dietary habits - eating vegan when I can, paying closer attention to what my body is telling me after eating certain foods, exploring foods that I wouldn't have otherwise thought about without reading the book, etc.
- The recipes: I liked the variety of different recipes and am eager to attempt them all. I picked up some nourishment and performance tips, particularly focused on pre-race, in-race, and post-race ideas.
- The coaching: I appreciated the sporadic segments that provided tips for performance - receiving meaningful yet simple advice from a world-class athlete is motivational.
Toward the end of the book I found myself moving from being highly inspired to getting very melancholy. The convergence of events in Scott's life mirror, I think, most lives - getting older, facing disappointments, failed relationships, stress and demands causing us to lose our edge, the temptation to give up, and the circling back to what is ultimately important. As a 50+ year old who in many respects is looking over my shoulder at my glory days, I even found the melancholy tone of the book to be real and inspiring. It was cool to see the book end on an impressive high note with the final race that he wrote about in France.
If this book is even close to your reading sweet spot as a runner, athlete, health enthusiast, or philosopher it is a must read. Scott has made it to the top of my list as a `famous athlete who with whom I would most desire to share a meal and a beer."
Now I am going to go run.
on May 16, 2012
As a casual runner whose longest distance has been the half-marathon, I've always been fascinated by the marathon and ultra community and what would make somebody train so hard and run such long distances. Scott Jurek provides some of the answers in this book.
The book is a sort of memoir, detailing Jurek's childhood and family life, and partially as the evolution of his ultra-running and dietary lifestyle. He tells us about the close-knit yet motley collection of dreamers in the ultra community, the desire to transcend bounds and push oneself to see how far one can go, and the psychological benefits and risks of all that time alone.
I really liked that there was a section ending each chapter that had either an exercise tip, a recipe, or both. Jurek is a serious vegan and writes a lot about his decision to eat that way. If you're curious or a committed vegan, the recipes look really good (I plan on trying some of them out!)
I wish that he had written more about his family life after he got married, or given more details in general about his personal life, because the book began to sound a little like a catalog of races after a while. He barely mentions his wife or what their relationship was like, and only writes a sentence or two about other friends. I think that adding a little more about them would have given the book a better balance. I also wish that he had given more detail in a couple of the training tips, and I would have loved to hear more about the logistics of planning an ultra and getting the crew together.
Solidly written and a good introduction to ultra running and veganism.
on June 5, 2012
I'm a little biased but also very proud of Scott for finally producing this book. As a co-founder and Trustee of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run for 32 years, I became friends with Scott during his years racing it.
I had a front row view during his seven-year reign as champion, an era that proved to be my favorite. Sometimes it seemed his feet were barely touching the ground as he ran the rugged trails, other times I watched him dig deep into the warrior spirit that carried him through the tough patches.
We could always count on a thrill when Scott and Dusty were first to arrive at the 78-mile Rucka Chucky River Crossing. Under the afternoon's oppressive blazing hot sun they would dunk themselves in the refreshing chest high and fast moving water; you could almost hear them sizzle. Aided by the stalwart River Team, Scott and Dusty grabbed the safety line so not to be washed downstream and pulled themselves hand over hand across huge uneven and slippery riverbed boulders to the other side. Onlookers watched in awe and knew they were witnessing something special, those were some amazing times. Scott always showed true sportsmanship and gratefulness to people around him.
Many of the fun times with Scott were spent in the kitchen as we created dazzling, healthy and tasty dishes. Some of his vegan culinary expertise rubbed off on me, which I still incorporate today.
Of course I followed many of his other races as well as he has accomplished so much and inspired me often. Scott Jurek is an awesome human being and this book will share his greatness with many readers.
Taylor adds: Hey man! You forgot to include the the time when I rescued you and Dusty at Robinson Flat. Remember when your car got stuck and I had to drive up and pull you two knuckleheads out of the SNOW?
Scott Jurek didn't have an easy, lazy childhood. His mother became ill and his father has to work, so Scott ends up taking care of his younger siblings. He chops wood, learns to cook, and becomes self-sufficient. While I would never advocate a child losing his/her childhood completely, it would be lovely if more children were tasked with chores and responsibilities at an early age.
He begins running as an adolescent in order to escape the pressures of his daily life and to condition himself for cross-country skiing. At first he hates running, but over time grows to love it and it becomes his main sport. He realizes that he becomes stronger the longer he runs, rather than the other way around.
Thus begins a career of ultrarunning - running distances over that oh-so-easy 26.2 miles (having never run more than a mile, I am being facetious.) Jurek has ran and won races that are over 100 miles on a regular basis.
Jurek became a vegan when he took up distance running seriously. At the end of each chapter, he features a training tip and a vegan recipe.
What I loved most, though, was the wisdom that Jurek imparts. He's clearly a very deep person who has learned a lot over his lifetime.
Some of my favorite quotes:
*What we eat is a matter of life and death. Food is who we are.
*Difficulty would help. It had always helped. I was finally figuring that out. All the whys in the universe hadn't granted me peace or given me answers.
*You could carry your burdens lightly or with great effort.
*Now we sit. We drive and surf on the internet and watch television. And naturally, we suffer.
*Whether you get what you want isn't what defines you. It's how you go about your business.
*We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.
The only reason I've given it 4 over 5 stars is that there were times that the book felt very long. But overall, highly recommend.
on June 25, 2012
Scott Jurek is an amazing runner, an excellent speaker and an incredible writer! This book is easy to read and impossible to put down. It speaks to anyone wanting to eat healthier and to runners - from 5k to ultra marathoners. It is inspirational and entertaining. Plus the recipes are amazing! I now make the chili recipe frequently and LOVE the pre workout drink. Definitely a must read!!!!
on June 14, 2012
This book caught my attention after I'd read 'Born to Run', and I must say it's very good reading. Scott gives a lot of color and details into his life as an ultramarathon runner. His motivations, his philosophies, his races, his love for running, all given in a wonderfully readable manner. Some books you can't put down. This book, you'll want to put it down from time to time, just because it truly inspires you to go running!
on June 8, 2012
Wonderful read, my favorite on the subject since Born to Run. Great look into the author's upbringing that gave him the mindset and discipline that led to not only completing, but winning and even setting records in so many impossible races. As a vegan and amateur runner myself, I was heartened to see the descriptions of the food Scott eats, much of which is quite ordinary, yet nutritious fare (bean burritos and potatoes on the run, for example). A highly recommended read for anyone interested in running and the limits of human endurance.
on June 11, 2012
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. The man is an inspiration. The book is enlightening (and very well written). It's one of those books that you can't wait to read and finish feeling like you have done something meaningful (then gobbled down a supremely tasty and healthy meal). The antidote to people like Dean Karnazes or whatever his name is.
Scott Jurek, is an American Ultramarathoner, who happens to be vegan. Scott grew up in close proximity to the woods and rivers. Learning to hunt and fish as a child, it is no surprise that he enjoyed eating what he caught..meat. Scott as a young teen, endured many responsibilities and obstacles. He was not one to join team sports in high school. He felt more comfortable as a loner and found happiness when he joined the competitive ski team . On one particular training camp that he attended, he was first introduced to the vegan diet. Jurek found that he felt much better by eating better. The transformation from meat eater to pure vegan would be a slow process. Jurek was under alot of pressure to help his mom, who was slowly becoming disabled due to MS, he would help cook, clean, take care of his siblings and work. He still achieved excellent grades and attended college to study Physical Therapy. With his good friend, Dusty, Jurek began to run trails and eventually bike long miles. He found that he enjoyed the long distances and eventually focused more to running than skiing.
Jurek's adventures and accomplishments were phenomenal. He constantly strives to be better in both speed and endurance. His experiments with his diet and slowly starts to eliminate all meat, diary and processed foods eventually turning to vegan. Jurek finds eating a plant based diet is more effective as he continues to run in extreme races.
At the end of each chapter, Jurek inserts a recipe for his readers to enjoy.
His story is very humble while at the same time I am amazed at what a remarkable runner he has become and still is.