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Scott Jurek went from humble beginnings in the backwoods of Minnesota to become a long-distance racing legend. Seven-time winner of the Western States 100, Jurek has won ultra-marathon races and shattered running records around the globe. And he does it while on a vegan diet.
Eat and Run is Scott's story and running and nutrition manifesto. Though he is a physical therapist, he makes clear from the beginning that he is not a physician nor a nutritionist. His findings are a product of personal research and decades of trial and error.
Story-wise, Scott's journey is a remarkable and fascinating one. He grew up poor in rural Minnesota and learned about hard work from an early age. His father was an emotionally distant man who instilled in his son a no-nonsense mantra: Sometimes you just do things. His mother was a professional baker until Multiple Sclerosis took over her body. Scott spent the majority of his youth caring for her, his younger siblings and managing the household while his father worked.
Between school and home, Scott's only escape was in the surrounding woods. He would explore trails, compete in cross-country skiing in high school and college, and, with his best friend, Dusty Olson, run. Dusty's influence and joy for running would push Scott into running longer distances. The life lessons learned while growing up would enable him to endure pain, discomfort, fatigue and exhaustion and become one of the greatest racing figures in modern times.
Education-wise, the insight into his nutritional plan is interesting and sparks curiosity. I doubt I am willing or able to go into a vegan lifestyle - I typically avoid meat but won't pass up a steak if offered - but Scott makes a fair argument for a plant-based regimen without coming across as preachy. To help fight the view that vegan food is bland, he includes a recipe with each chapter. The recipes are easy enough to make with some planning and the inclusion of a variety of spices makes for interesting and delicious meals.
Experienced runners will find his training insights lacking. But it's running we're talking about here - putting one foot in front of the other. It doesn't matter if you're running a neighborhood 5k or 135 miles through Death Valley, the principle stays the same. Physical preparation and mental fortitude are other factors, and - as the saying goes - you get what you put into it.
Regardless, Scott's enthusiasm for the sport and living are contagious. I don't think I'll run an ultramarathon anytime soon (though it is on my bucket list) and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone who hasn't already logged serious miles to do it, but I would encourage runners - from marathon veterans to weekend warriors - to read this book.