The first time I read this book, I had an unusual reaction (for me): I decided I didn’t really like Scott Jurek. I’d purchased the book after reading about him in Born to Run, and expected him to be exactly like the guy in that book. Turns out that, instead, he’s actually a human being (insane running prowess notwithstanding), with all the drama and issues humans bring to the table.
Not that Scott would ever read my blog, but have further readings of the book, his blog and Facebook changed my mind? Most definitely. He’s still human, but actually he seems to be quite a nice guy, and does a whole lot to try and make the planet as whole better. A big task to be sure, though it must seem smaller to a man that can wake up one morning, start running in Squaw Valley, CA and not stop until he’s arrived in Auburn, a hundred miles away. But back to the book…
My biggest issue was one of expectations. I came into the book wanting to read more about adventures like the Copper Canyon Ultra. What I got instead was something of a cross between autobiography and cook book, penned by a man who spent his youth caring for an ailing mother and his adulthood running what seemed to be superhuman distances while occasionally alienating friends and even his wife. As it turns out, training for and actually running those incredible distances can sometimes be hard on relationships. Perhaps I should say it often is.
The funny thing is, when I went back to re-read the book again, I found myself liking Scott more and more. Once I’d gotten over expectations, I was able to see the book for what it was, see Scott for who he was. I am sure he is ABSOLUTELY thrilled that some guy with a blog doesn’t think he’s a jerk anymore. THRILLED. Moving on…
Even after half a dozen reads however, I would not call this a “feel-good” book. There’s triumph, certainly, but a lot of pain, hardship and sorrow mixed in as well. The veganism is tied in fairly well, though occasionally the switch to a recipe is jarring. I’ve tried a few of the recipes and they are quite good, though occasionally the ingredients aren’t that easy to get in my neck of the woods (though I imagine they would be if I frequented the health food stores more). What is it about the health food store that makes me hesitate going in, I know it’s not the prices, It’s something subconscious, I can’t put my finger on it.
Overall this is definitely a must read if you are interested at all in the intersection of elite running and eating Vegan. You will learn a lot about a complicated man, revel in triumph in a sport most of us can only dream about participating in, and along the way learn a fair bit about improving your diet. I’m not a Vegan, I’m not even a full time vegetarian, but the recipes and tips in this book helped me a lot.
Next week I will actually be seeing Mr. Jurek at the Clif theater in Emeryville, CA. To say I am nervous is an understatement. As Chris McDougall wrote in “Born to Run“, “Prepare to meet your God”. I wouldn’t take it quite that far, but the idea of actually interacting with Scott is a bit out of my mind’s capability to handle. More than likely there will be hundreds of runners there and I will be lost in the crowd. But perhaps when I go up to have him sign my copy of Eat & Run, when he asks “Who should I make it out to?” and I say “The Fat Panther”, I’ll be able to say it without it catching in my throat. Here’s hoping.