Scott Jurek. As I’m reading his book Eat & Run, all I can think about is Scott Jurek. At work, I find myself saying, “Well, Scott Jurek says…” to coworkers who couldn’t care less about running and have no idea who Scott Jurek is. At home, I find myself frequently reading passages from the book to a husband who’s in the same boat as my coworkers when it comes to running. Eat & Run is not only one of the best books I’ve ever read–a well-written account of Jurek’s rise to ultrarunning fame, with race recaps, practical tips on running, and recipes–but it has also made me really think about my life, my diet, and my running. It’s changed me. I’m not even finished with the book, but these are five things I’ve learned so far.
1. You can do anything if you want it bad enough. Scott Jurek not only runs races from 50 to 150+ miles in brutal conditions–through rocky mountains and blistering sun and heat–but he wins them and breaks course records. And not only does he win them, but he has several times won them while being injured. His drive and will to succeed is simply amazing. Reading his recap of the Badwater 135-mile race, where he was on the ground unable to move, feeling completely spent and not thinking he could finish the race, and then got up, started walking, started running, started running faster (he often finished ultras running 7-minute miles) and ultimately won the race gave me chills. How often have we thought that we can’t go on, that we can’t go faster, that we are at max and just can’t give anymore? I know that’s happened to me a lot. Scott Jurek proves that you CAN go on, and not only go on but do great, even after you think you can’t. In every single one of my hard workouts since starting to read this book, I’ve thought of Scott Jurek. On repeats where it’s hard and I don’t want to push and think, “Maybe one slow repeat is okay,” I’ve thought of Scott Jurek, and I’ve pushed. I think this mindset is definitely going to help me in races.
2. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find the time for it. At one point,
Jurek was taking college classes, working a 30-hour-a-week job, helping
his mother at home who had multiple sclerosis, and training for
cross-country skiing, the sport in which he started. Later, he
would run 10-35 miles nearly every day while working as a full-time
physical therapist. He wanted to be successful at running bad enough, so
he made time for it. When I want to skip the 10 minutes of foam rolling I should do every day or the 20 minutes of strength training a few times a week that I should do as part of my training, I’ll be thinking of Scott Jurek.
3. Enjoy the journey. From the book: “The reward of running–of anything–lies within us. As I sought
bigger rewards and more victories in my sport, it was a lesson I learned
over and over again. We focus on something external to motivate us, but
we need to remember that it’s the process of reaching for that
prize–not the prize itself–that can bring us peace and joy.” YES.
4. “Sometimes you just do things!” This was Jurek’s dad’s response
when a young Jurek questioned why he had do do so many chores, and it is
a theme throughout the book. In one race recap, Jurek talks about the importance of not thinking where you are in the course and how far
you have to go, but to just keep moving forward. Jurek worked hard his
whole life–with helping his family, with his studies, with
experimenting with the best diet for him, with skiing, and with running.
When things got hard and he questioned why he was doing it all, he
remembered Sometimes you just do things! and persevered. And he
learned that if you just do things, then sometimes things turn out well. From the book: “It was the moment in an ultramarathon that I have learned to live for, to love. It was that time when everything seems hopeless, when to go on seems futile, and when a small act of kindness, another step, a sip of water, can make you realize that nothing is futile, that going on–especially when going on seems so foolish–is the most meaningful thing in the world.”
5. My diet could be better. I’ve always thought of my vegan diet as pretty healthy. I eat mostly whole foods, little processed foods, and tons of fruits and veggies. But my diet pales in comparison to Jurek’s. In one of his race recaps, he said he never takes the potato chips and candy at aid stations during an ultramarathon. (He eats bean and rice burritos, bananas, and boiled potatoes dipped in salt instead.) I don’t think I’ll ever do an ultra, but I’m pretty sure that if I did, I’d eat the potato chips. Not only does Jurek not eat crap, but he’s passionate about eating the best, healthiest foods possible. In the book he spends a lot of time talking about his plant-based diet, which he strongly credits for his ultrarunning success, as well as his general health. Because of the book, I’ve decided I need to clean up my diet a bit. I want to adopt some of Jurek’s practices, like eating sprouted grains instead of regular grains, having at least one raw meal a day (he eats a raw salad for lunch every day), and buying a good blender to make my own nut milks and whole grain flours. A coworker also wants to experiment with eating raw, so we’re going to each make a recipe a week and then share it with each other. As I was making out my grocery list for the week, I told my husband, “Scott Jurek is making me eat better.”
If you haven’t yet read Eat & Run, I highly recommend it!