Monday, 8 October 2012

Learning lessons from Eat & Run

Far too long ago, I got sent a copy of Scott Jurek's "Eat & Run" book to review.  It has taken me forever to get around to reading it, but I took it with me on the Toad for some evening entertainment and then finished it on holiday.

Scott Jurek is an extraordinary ultramarathon runner, who has won practically every race going - he's a bit of an inspiration of mine, and I have a Q&A article that he did for TIME this year, pinned on my desk - so I was really looking forward to reading Eat and Run.

I've stolen some blurb about it from Amazon in case you've not heard of the book:

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.

So, did it live up to my expectations? Did I enjoy it?

Yes - I definitely did.  Jurek's story is incredible (at times heartbreaking) and his achievements definitely inspiring! Although I skipped all of the recipes in the book (I'm no cook and have no interest in reading about how he prepares his meals!) I enjoyed the structure that swung between narrative and sections of running advice, and although I'll never be a vegan, the message about clean eating, to someone who eats so much processed food, really hit home

I read a lot of books, and to be honest it's not many that I remember, but I have really taken on board Eat & Run and since finishing it, have continued to consider it.  The way that Jurek became a runner, the struggles he's had, the training he does...he's been on a fascinating and unique journey, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to share that, but I have also come to the conclusion that I could learn a few lessons from him too.

Don't get me wrong though, I don't think the book is intended to preach about a way of life, or how to be a better runner. It's not written that way - it's just about Jurek's story - and the advise about training, races and nutrition, is just as a result of what he has found works best for him, but it all makes such sense, I've found myself keenly remembering four key messages.

  *  Experiment with different ways of living/eating/running. Pay attention to how you feel and react so you can identify what works best for you.
  *  You don't have to make drastic changes instantly. Gradual change will work just as well in the long run and you're more likely to stick with it.
  *  You are responsible for becoming the best person that you can be - it is entirely within your control - it just depends how hard you want to work.
  *  Clean eating really does make a difference. It's not about making a sacrifice - it's about looking after your body and giving yourself the best possible chance of succeeding and of being healthy.

These are probably not the key points that everyone would remember from the book. I can see that other people would learn more about specific training or race techniques, how to make healthy post race meals, or how to transform from a meat-eater to a vegan but that's the wonderful thing about reading books - like listening to poetry or admiring a piece of art - the meaning is whatever it means to you!

1 comment:

  1. They are pretty much the points I remember from the book Naomi and since reading it 3 months or so ago haven't eaten meat. Going Vegan is probably a bit extreme like Scott found too but I don't eat eggs or fish either now and apart from milk, cheese and honey I'm pretty much animal product free too now. I certainly don't feel any worse for it and in many ways better. And as for Ultras, "sometimes you just do things". :) John