Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: "Eat & Run"

I eat. And I run. I'm even vegan. But I am still not (a female version of) Scott Jurek.
In case you haven't heard, Mr. Vegan Master of the Ultrarunning universe, Scott Jurek, is out with his first book - Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness.

Naturally, I got it and devoured it as soon as it hit the (virtual) shelves. In the book, Scott talks about his upbringing, early athletic career, struggles and victories both in running and life. It was a really quick read, incredibly engaging.

Each of the 21 chapters is a story in itself, and many of those stories tie together at some point in the book. Each chapter ends with a yummy-sounding recipe, which I would have gotten up to make right away - if only I wasn't too involved in reading the book. Most of the chapters also end with a little paragraph with some basic training advice.

To Scott, optimal nutrition drives performance and he talks at length about how he has tweaked his diet before and after becoming vegan. There is a lot of detail about how food works with your body and though I tend to read such claims with one eyebrow constantly raised (I know I need to stop or else I'll develop some unsightly wrinkles), I actually really liked and agreed with a great majority of the information he laid out. No glaring scientific inaccuracies, which I was incredibly happy about (and yet expected no less).

He is extraordinary, beyond dedicated and clearly superhuman. Even if he claims he was not born with any genetic athletic superiority. Sidenote: Don't you just love how both Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes ("Ultramarathonman") claim they are generically 'average', yet both are capable of unbelievable physical accomplishments (Dean recently ran across the continent of the US and Scott holds a laundry list of long distance running records - but they are so different that I am not making a comparison). I assume this is meant to send a message of "you can do whatever you set your mind to," which is fantastic but I still don't believe that they are not superhuman. If not physically, then mentally. Moving on...

An unconventionally inspirational, very matter-of-fact (which describes the book itself) quote makes appearances in every story told. Sometimes you just do things. I can't argue with that (and I'm sure Nike would agree) has now pulled me through a few tough moments on my recent runs. So, thank you to Scott's dad, the author of that not-so-unique-but-powerful sentence.

The running stories are incredible. I have added a few ultras to my "must do" and even more to my "must never do" list.

The Energizer bunny's got nothing on Scott.

The recipes are a shining example of what most would call "hippie vegan" and I'm perfectly fine with that. Lots of fruits, veg, grains and greens, Flora Oil Omega 3-6-9 (one of Scott's sponsors), miso, coconut oil/flakes, chia seeds, tempeh, etc. Most seem relatively uncomplicated and I'm excited to try them out (and do the nutritional analysis, of course, which is really the only thing that's missing from the book). I'm probably going to start with long run foods - as I am getting really tired of gels and could kill for some real food a few hours into a run. Posts on that later.

Even if I don't yet think of marathons as short walks around the park and I haven't signed up for a 100-mile race (I'm calling it an exercise in patience but it's really that I am super scared...even of my 100k (62miles)), I loved this book and may end up reading it again one day. Yes, I do that sort of thing once in a while.

The next book on my list, which I am already well into and loving (but in a different way and I'll tell you why later): The Extra Mile by Pam Reed.


  1. yah i was reading in born to run today that he likes to eat real food instead of gels when he runs. kinda makes sense. and i definitely want to try that for long runs. for races i feel like eating may get me out of the mindset- but for long runs- anything goes. hahah.

  2. I LOVE Born to Run. But was less than happy when the whole barefoot running thing didn't work for me. Oh well! I agree that it's probably not race day appropriate...unless I guess you're already used to it and eat it like you would a gel...