Eat and Run

This is a great follow-up read to Born to Run . Scott Jurek is one of the superathletes featured in the epic race detailed in Born to Run and Scott has now written his own take on what it means to push the limits of mind and body and to be a healthier and happier person because of it. This is what I thought of his book.

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon GreatnessEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads (edited a little by me): “In Eat and Run, Scott Jurek opens up about his life and career—as an elite athlete and a vegan—and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family, to his early beginnings in running (he hated it), to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, to his world-spanning, record-breaking races, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart all the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Chock-full of incredible, on-the-brink stories of endurance and competition, fascinating science, and accessible practical advice—including his own favorite plant-based recipes—Eat and Run will motivate everyone to “go the distance,” whether that means getting out for that first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of your own potential.”

My Review

I found Scott Jurek’s journey interesting and inspiring at parts. The running tips and recipes thrown in were good, but this isn’t a book about learning how to run. It is a memoir and so it’s really about Scott’s personal journey to finding meaning in life through running. I could relate to a lot of what he said, the feelings he expressed about running and how he related that to anytime we have something hard to do in life, anytime we have to push ourselves beyond the limits we think we have.

It only gets 3 stars though because some of it gets a little repetitive and while he tries to make his journey a universal one (and succeeds in that part of the time) running over 100 miles and having the time and lack of other commitments to be able to train for that is not universal. Also while I gain a great deal through running and love it for the personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual gains it provides, I found Jurek’s devotion to it as the one true source of all meaning and happiness (combined with eating well) to be unbalanced.

He spends a few chapters toward the end of the book describing a time when his life fell apart and after taking some time to wallow and think he is able to get back into running which helps him overcome the sinkhole he found himself in. I’m not quite sure his description of the difficult time or the recovery after ever quite shows that he recognizes it was is unbalanced devotion to eating and running that likely got him in deep doo-doo in the first place, and while I do believe the running and the passion he has for it did help and will continue to help him in other such difficult times, if he doesn’t find a little more balance he’s likely to find himself in a hole just as big or bigger than the last one.

But if you enjoy fitness and eating well you would enjoy this read. It has some interesting information and useful tips. And it is motivating, makes you want to do a little better and taking care of your body, mind, and spirit.

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Age Recommendation: This book probably holds the most interest for 18 and older, but teens with experience running or with other sports training might relate to some of it as well.

Appropriateness: I don’t remember particular swear words, but there likely was some profanity in the book. Some description of drinking as well, but definitely not a promotion for drinking. I didn’t find anything offensive.

Born to Run

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads (edited some by me): “Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.”

My Review

Definitely a worthwhile read. I’ll probably read it again someday too. Chapter 25 to the end was my favorite part. Every runner should read chapter 25 and chapter 28 and anyone who has ever wanted to run or even thought about wanting to run should read the book.

I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would though, especially since it is essentially responsible for my conversion to running. My husband read it first several years ago and decided that he and I should try barefoot or minimalist running technique. I had despised running all my life; it had never felt natural, it never felt good to be doing it. Then with my husband’s coaxing, I tried on a pair of minimalist running shoes; I immediately felt a difference. Just walking around the store I could tell my form was different in those shoes than in all the traditional running shoes I had always had. My first 1/4 mile run in the new shoes felt amazing, refreshing, rejuvenating. I felt strong (and also sore) after only a 1/4 mile. I had never run a full mile without walking before. Within 2 weeks I was running 3 miles without stopping and loving how it felt.

It took me a year to actually read the book that inspired that change, partially because I just don’t read much nonfiction. Hearing my husband talk about it I had thought I would be most interested in the story part of the book, that I would care most about “the greatest race the world has never seen.” But actually, I didn’t care all that much about it as I was reading. I felt there was lots of repetitive description of the Copper Canyons and the Tarahumara. Finding Caballo Blanco and getting the race all prepped also dragged for me. It was the science and the research that caught my attention. I would have loved to read more about the coaches and college running teams that train partially barefoot. I want more info about the studies scientists and coaches have been doing about running technique.

The writing is engaging though. It does not read like a textbook, but more like a novel. I came away from the read better able to describe why I finally fell in love with running, why I still love it, and why it was only after discovering “barefoot/minimalist” or good form running technique that I could truly consider myself “Born to Run.” Makes me want to get out and run. Maybe the Grand Canyon rim to rim?

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Age Recommendation: This one will likely be of most interest to adults. Teens, especially those who are runners could appreciate it too.

Appropriateness: There is some profanity and drinking in the book. It is not the focus of the story by any means and did not detract from the motivating message.

I loved my sister-in-law’s review of this one too:

“It definitely makes you think. About running, about your feelings about running, about all your experiences running…It also makes you curious, about all the same things. It makes you go a little crazy…thinking about running 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons…what the hell, let’s run the Grand Canyon. It makes you start to hope, a little bit, that maybe, just maybe, you could learn to love to run, too. I’ve hated running ever since track in junior high. Now?….well, let’s just say I’m thinking…and hoping…and running.”

of hope and horsesIf you know her story it’s pretty incredible for her to be running, or even walking, after a accident with a horse left her with a crushed pelvis. If you want another amazing story please buy her audio CD called “Of Hope and Horses.” You can buy it here. I guarantee it will change your life, make you more grateful, more humble, and more ready to face your fears and LIVE.