Anyone who knows me mildly well knows that I’m a strict vegetarian, and more often than not, people just describe me as being vegan because it’s easier to plan meals and restaurant outings that way. Knowing that, it should be no surprise that I totally dig Scott Jurek, not only because he’s such a kick-ass athlete, but also because he is an incredibly accomplished ultrarunner, holds (or has held) a ton of records, and really launched his career once he went vegan.
When I heard that Scott (ha, we’re on a first-name basis here) wrote an autobiography, _Eat & Run_, that talked about his familial upbringing (one that did not necessarily easily lend itself to his becoming vegan, mind you), his ultra training, and his veganism, I pre-ordered it on Amazon so I could get it as soon as it came out… and apparently, the gods and the stars aligned because it came out right before I went on vacation to an off-the-grid island in NC.
(Last time I was there, pre-A, I read five books in seven days. I figured the kiddo wouldn’t let me read that much this time around, but I figured one book in seven days was doable).
I read _Born to Run_ a few years back, right when it had come out as well, and I really liked it for several reasons. Like _BTR_, _E&R_ also left me feeling inspired to run an ultra, a goal that I have flirted with for the past several years but just haven’t gotten around to doing for one reason or another (and to be fair, it’s usually a timing thing… like all the local ultras fall at bad times in my marathon training). In fact, _E&R_ reminded me a lot of _BTR_ in a lot of other ways as well, like how Jurek and McDougall both seamlessly wove stories of the ultrarunning community and its acclaimed races (Western States, Badwater, etc.) into the prose, though a major (obvious) difference was Jurek’s inclusion of his familial upbringing.
As someone who is about 95% vegan these days (I’m just ovo-veg at this point), I also really liked, and appreciated, how accessible and non-pretentious Jurek made veganism for his reader. At the end of each chapter, he includes a recipe that seemed pretty manageable, and because of who he is, the recipes he provided sounded amazing AND healthy. Score. Once we get through this move and I get my kitchen out of boxes, I will definitely try out many of his recipes, if not all of them, in time.
I found myself really wrapped up into reading about Scott’s life that the hardest chapter for me to read was “Lost,” for obvious reasons that I won’t spoil here. My heart and soul ached for him as I made it through those pages, and I kept hoping that there would soon be a flip-side that would manifest, since I hated reading what was going on in his life in that period. (Ed. note: I realize this is a horrible paragraph to include, given how few lack of details I’m including, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. Just read the book!).
_Eat & Run_ is a fast read, totally inspiring for any runner (or for anyone who appreciates a good sports story, I’d say), and a great read to get you psyched up about running–whether you’re taking your first step, running your first race, or even taking the plunge and going into the ultra community. I have a feeling this will be a book that I won’t donate in a month and one that I’ll return to time and again. I only wish that I would have been able to meet Scott when he was in Chicago a few weeks ago because it would have been totally awesome to have him sign my copy.
One last thing: he also begins each of his chapters with an inspirational quote. Some of my favorites:
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” -Anonymous (beg. of chapter 3, “For My Own Good”)
“The more you know, the less you need.” -Yvon Chouinard (beg. of chapter 6, “The Wisdom of Hippie Dan”)
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -George Bernard Shaw (beg. of chapter 7, “‘Let the Pain Go Out Your Ears'”)
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Mahatma Gandhi (beg. of chapter 8, “Attack of the Big Birds”)
“All it takes is all you got.” -Marc Davis (beg. of chapter 16, “The Central Governor”)
“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen (beg. of chapter 19, “Lost”)
“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” -Rumi (beg. of chapter 21, “Back to my Roots”)
“Sometimes the best journeys aren’t necessarily from east to west, or from ground to summit, but from heart to head. Between them we find our voice.” -Jeremy Collins (beg. of Epilogue)
Ok, so that’s about half of the quotes he includes; what can I say? He has good taste.