Nonfiction Nagging: The Runner in Me Needed This

Sometimes we read something that ends up being perfect for where we're at and what we need. Scott Jurek's Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, due out next month, was exactly what the doctor ordered for me. It made me feel.... better.

One of the focuses of this book is about Jurek's gradual conversion to veganism. He discusses the process in which he went through and the impact it had on his body and running. Cutting out all animal products was a huge factor in making him healthier (rarely sick at all), allowing him a quicker recovery time, and fueling his body for runs that often exceed 100 miles. Personally, I haven't had meat since I gave it up for lent, although I haven't labeled myself a vegetarian yet (I have trouble committing, apparently). While Jurek didn't really talk much about the ethical treatment of animals, one of my concerns, he did provide some concrete evidence as to what a plant-based diet can do for your health. While I don't plan on becoming vegan, I definitely see the long-term benefits of not eating meat. The connection made to exercise performance was powerful. I also appreciated that Jurek didn't preach- he simply discussed what worked for him. I don't really like discussing my current dietary changes because I feel when people ask why, and you tell them, they feel like you're lecturing them.

Running through Pain
Source; at Badwater
When you run ultras (this means anything over 26.2 miles, although Jurek seemed to mostly do races between 50 and 100) you hurt: your feet, stomach, knees, and head all feel the stress of exertion. Ultramarathoners keep going; they learn to live with the pain and they don't stop unless they truly have to. While I could definitely get all philosophical on this being a metaphor for life, I won't. I do, though, need to learn to live with physical pain right now- my foot with the mutant extra bone is bothering me terribly right now. I know it's because I'm overdoing it- two tough yoga sessions a week on flat fee, plus three or four additional cardio days, one of which is dedicated towards walking serious inclines to prepare for Yosemite and another to try to maintain some sort of decent running base. If it was anyone else I'd say rest, but I can't- it keeps me in control, and it keeps me sane. Plus, the pain isn't going to go away. I'm not going to have surgery and I have the best shoes for my issues. I need to channel my inner Scott Jurek and power through the pain. It's just pain. Really, it's simply chemical reactions. Mind over matter. And plenty of ice. And vodka.

Highs and Lows
There are highs and lows in life, but in the end everything flattens out. It's the same in racing; you have times where you're PRing and times where you're doing worse that when you started. It's cyclical and you have to want it. No one can expect to do well if they aren't going to push themselves. I definitely needed to hear that lesson; I've become way to comfortable with my running routine ever since I decided to cut back in February. While I don't necessarily have any major race plans right now, I do want to be half-marathon ready (you know, in case I'm driving down the road and want to jump in a race spur of the moment). If you treat your body right (see the food section above...) and are dedicated you will get better. 

Most Motivating Quote
"Altogether, our modern inclination toward sloth, the easy availability of processed food, and the prevalence life-saving medical treatments have made us a long-lived, unhealthy people" (Jurek, 149). It's all about quality of life.

I really loved this book; it was a super quick read, had some interesting vegan recipes and training tips interspersed, and Jurek was both inspiring and humble (unlike Dean Karnazes).


  1. Thanks for the review. I have this on my "to-read" list for next month!

  2. "long-lived, unhealthy people." Very insightful! I love a good running related book, and Scott Jurek is the kind of person whose brain I'd like to get inside. I'll definitely be picking this one up!

    Is Dean Karnazes a jerk? I didn't know that about him. When I think of Dean, I think of "that guy who ordered pizza during a long run."*

    1. I think Dean is an awesome athlete- and I think Dean also thinks this, if you know what I mean.