Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman

Scott Jurek is one of the most renowned ultramarathoners in the business. He has been featured in Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. His debut novel, Eat & Run, is a New York Times bestseller and explores the sources of motivation for ultra-distances as well as the plant-based diet that fuels him to victory.

Jurek goes into great detail as he describes the determination and satisfaction that he achieves through pushing his body to its athletic and mental limits. Jurek began his career as a cross country skier in rural Minnesota and used running as training device for his skiing career. Eventually he competed in his first 50k and was hooked. A major source of inspiration for Jurek is his mother. She suffered from multiple sclerosis dating from his early childhood and was unable to walk to the family pew in church let alone run. Jurek runs for her because she was unable to. He also runs for the inner peace he experiences during the grueling workouts and races he completes. Running is an escape from the suffering of his mother, his failed marriage, and his friendships that have been lost and weakened. For Jurek, a sufferer of childhood high blood pressure, the peace he finds in running has been his salvation both mentally and physically.

Eat & Run is a strong promoter of a plant-based, vegan, diet. Jurek first began experimenting with a plant-based diet while in college. He quickly realized that he felt better and recovered faster when he eliminated meat and animal byproducts from his diet. At the end of each chapter, Jurek has included one of his personal recipes to help others on the path to a vegan lifestyle. While Jurek mills some of his own flour and makes his own rice and almond milk, this is not necessary for the average reader to make use of his recipes. Most of the ingredients can be found at a local health food store, and I am looking forward to trying out some of his meals and snacks.

Scott Jurek is the first to admit that he is not the fastest or most naturally talented runner, but he trains hard, and he trains smart. He also has incredible focus and determination. He gives credit to his friends, biological family, and his racing family. He makes the claim that his plant-based diet has allowed him to reach his running potential and that his rugged determination keeps him competing when most people would call it quits. The combination has led him to become one of the most successful modern ulramarathoners.

While not all of Jurek's advice is applicable to my own life, I am interested in trying out some of his recipes. I also found his training regimen to be something to aspire to. I would love to get to the point where I could complete 10 mile runs multiple times per week. Jurek also discusses proper running form, and I am hoping to use some of his advice to improve my own form and thus endurance.  -Brianna

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