Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run – A Fascinating Read About Physical Endurance on a Vegan Diet

By Sabine Thier — May 30, 2013

When you mention the name Scott Jurek, it is quite possible that many people have no idea who you are talking about.

Scott Jurek might not be well known to the mainstream public, but he is a very famous figure in the ultrarunning community, and he is a role model for many endurance athletes all over the world.

Ultrarunning events are races that are longer than the 26.2 miles (42.2 km) of the traditional marathon. Ultramarathons range from 50K races (31 miles) to a whopping 100 miles and even longer.

An extreme example for an ultrarunning event is the Badwater 135, which is coined as “the world’s toughest foot race.” This race is 135 miles long starting below sea level in Death Valley and ending on Mount Whitney. Badwater 135 takes place every year in mid-July when temperatures can be over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

For many years, Scott Jurek has been a prominent competitor on the ultrarunning stage where he won many of the most prestigious races, often for years in a row.

Scott Jurek accomplished many impressive feats, but his most outstanding achievements are winning the above-mentioned Badwater 135 twice; winning the Spartathlon, a 153-mile race held annually in Greece, three times and winning the famous Western States 100 a record-breaking seven consecutive times.

Scott Jurek’s athletic resume is awe-inspiring by any account, but there is one aspect that makes his accomplishments even more interesting – Scott Jurek achieved his ultrarunning success on a completely vegan diet.

In his book Eat & Run, which was published in June 2012 and became New York Times bestseller, Scott Jurek documented his journey from growing up hunting and fishing in Minnesota to becoming a vegan ultrarunning super star.

Each chapter of the book covers a different time in Scott Jurek’s life – his childhood in Proctor, Minnesota, where he grew up with a very strict and emotionally distant father and a mother who suffered from MS; his high schools years, where he ran in order to build endurance for his Nordic skiing competitions; and various races he ran during his ultrarunning career, including the Western States 100, Badwater 135, Spartathlon, and Hardrock 100.

What stands out throughout the book is Scott Jurek’s discipline and mental strength that allowed him to push his body to the absolute limits and become an ultrarunning champion. It appears that his strict and disciplinarian father contributed tremendously to Scott’s mental toughness.

“Sometimes you just do things” is the phrase that Scott Jurek used to hear from his father whenever Scott complained about having to do one of the many hard and tedious chores in or around the house.

The phrase is the name of the second chapter of the book and it keeps popping up throughout the entire book.

“Sometimes you just do things” turned into Scott Jurek’s mantra that he kept telling himself whenever things started to get tough during his ultramarathons. This mantra helped him push through pain, speed up when a competitor closed in behind him, or keep going when dropping out of a race due to injury or sheer exhaustion was a tempting alternative.

As the title of his book suggests, Scott Jurek not only details his journey from Nordic skier to ultrarunning champion, he also tells the story of how the meat and potato diet on which he grew up changed over the years to eventually become completely plant-based. Scott recounts his dietary experiments and how they impacted his athletic performance.

Eat & Run also offers some practical advice. At the end of each chapter, the reader finds a piece of training advice in addition to one of Scott Jurek’s vegan recipes. Scott not only lists the ingredients for each dish and instructions on how to prepare the dish, he also tells a personal story related to the recipe, and he details the main nutrients of each of the dishes and how they benefit the body.

Eat & Run takes the reader on a riveting journey from Scott Jurek’s early years in Minnesota to the trails and roads of many of his ultramarathons providing a fascinating glimpse into the ultrarunning world and introducing many of the unique characters that are part of the ultrarunning scene.

Scott Jurek’s race stories are honest and inspirational as they demonstrate his enormous willpower, determination, and his ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible. And the insight into the evolution of his diet over the course of his ultra running career in addition to the recipes at the end of each chapter may provide readers with a practical starting point for changing their own diet.


Images Courtesy of Scott Jurek

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