Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: Eat and Run

I don't really get into non-fiction.  I love to read but tend to pick up novels - love stories, psychological thrillers, the (ahem) occasional young adult vampire series.  I blame it on all the non-fiction I've had to read for school and still have to read for work.  To me novels are more of an escape.

Along came Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run.  I knew this was a book I had to read.  Yes, it's non-fiction but it's a memoir so that makes it a little easier.  But that's beside the point.  You see, Scott Jurek is a runner.  But he isn't just any runner.  He's an ultra runner, which means he runs distances of 50 miles, 100 miles, 150 miles, or more.  Pretty intense.  

But Scott Jurek isn't just any ultra runner.  He's a VEGAN ultra runner.  So that means he runs these distances on a vegan diet.  Do you know the crap I hear about running 13 miles on a vegan diet?  So like I said, my friends, this is a book I had to read.

Scott writes about his family and childhood, back before he was a runner, when he used to hunt with his father.  He writes of his transition from meat-eater to vegetarian to vegan, along with a stint as raw vegan (too much time chewing, he said).  Each chapter describes a race he either ran in or trained for, along with what was happening in his life at the time and the friendships he made along the way.  There are amazing stories of perseverance in the face of pain, sickness, exhaustion, and injury.  Some of the stories border on insanity, yes, but they are amazing nonetheless! 

In addition to the stories, at the end of each chapter Scott offers training tips for the everyday runner, along with his own vegan recipes.  Most of them look pretty easy to make and they all seem healthy and delicious.  I haven't tried any yet but am especially looking forward to making "Long Run Pizza Bread" and "Coco Rizo Cooler" - a rice/coconut milk drink with chia seeds that sounds refreshing after a hot summer run.

I really love that he shares these recipes for vegans, yes, but more importantly so that non-vegan athletes can see how delicious and satisfying a vegan diet can be!  I always get questions about where I get my protein and Scott addresses this issue.  (And really, if anything, Americans get too much protein.)  Clearly, a well-planned vegan diet will give you all the nutrients you need.  Scott found that as he transitioned to a vegan diet, his speed improved, his recovery time improved, and his overall health (e.g. blood pressure and triglycerides) improved dramatically. 

And honestly, you cannot NOT be inspired by this man!  I mean, it blows me away that he ran a 100-mile race at a 9:22/mile pace!  Or pushed out an 8-minute mile at mile 90.  (And these are just what stick out in my brain right now - he's probably done even better.)  I've run 10ks that have been slower than that!  Granted, he does a lot of training but it certainly has given me a lot to think about.  Since reading the book I've tried to push myself a bit more, especially when I feel like cutting my planned distance short.  "What's 7 miles?" I thought this morning.  "Scott Jurek might be running 27 - and he'd just be getting warmed up!"

So if you're a runner, whether you run 5ks, 10ks, marathons, or ultras - or maybe you just like to get out there and run a couple miles for fun - do yourself a favor and pick up Eat and Run.  

Read about the time I MET Scott Jurek here!

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