The moment I found out that Scott Jurek had written a book, I wanted to read it, no matter what it was. I am not a hardcore, long-term fan by any means. I read about him in Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, and I was immediately interested in him because of his vegan diet. I wanted to know more about him, so I did a little research online and followed him on Twitter and Facebook. That’s how I discovered that he had written a memoir.
I was very excited to read about his experiences as a super-athlete on a plant-based diet, so I scurried over to the library as soon as I was able, and requested an inter-library loan of the book. When the library director called me to let me know it was in, he also informed me that he had just gone ahead and purchased a copy for our own library. I love it when that happens! Now more people will have access to this book because of my own desire to read it. That is such a great feeling.
I say Scott Jurek wrote this book, Eat and Run, when really he co-authored it with a writer named Steve Friedman. I think it’s commendable to recognize where your strengths lie and where they do not, and to ask for assistance in order to make your final product the best it can be. They both wanted this to be a good book, and between the two of them, they made that happen.
What was surprising to me was how well-rounded of a person Scott Jurek seems to be. This book really shows just how much thought he has put into every aspect of his life. He discusses the factors that led him to adopt a vegan diet, and all the doubts and criticisms he has experienced along the way. He is honest about his motivations and concerns about his health, and includes useful information that he has discovered in his research. The book is well-cited, with an extensive list of sources at the end. He does not make any claims that he cannot back up.
Jurek emphasizes the importance of a healthy mind when running extreme distances. He talks about meditation and self-discipline, and makes it clear that this can be a lonely sport. He stresses how helpful it is to make connections with other involved in the sport, so that it doesn’t become a lonely life. He walks the walk by camping out at finish lines after completing races, in order to congratulate and support other runners. This attitude has probably been crucial in forming a community in a sport mainly comprised of lone wolves.
This book shows the pitfalls of such zealous dedication to a lifestyle, as well as the rewards. Without any appeals for sympathy, the author tells of the failure of his first marriage and his misgivings about spending so much time away from his ill mother. He also learns just how double-edged success can be, when he nearly loses his best friend to envy and misunderstanding. Jurek’s chosen career affected every aspect of his life, and I was moved to read about his thoughts and how he handled those consequences with grace and humility.
Ostensibly, this is a book about running, and it is quite inspiring in that regard alone. The list of races in the back of the book showing Jurek’s times and new records set is not just impressive, but truly amazing. Eat and Run is about more than running, however; it is a story about a man with remarkable courage and passion, and I enjoyed it very much.