Written by Neil Bryant - www.ultrarunninglife.com
I like to read, but I won’t claim to have read all the ultra running books that are kicking around at the moment. Some just don’t really appeal for some reason. The same things are said over and over. I want either an incredible story told by the person who lived through it or I want something a little different. When I read about Scott Jureks book, I was interested. Scott has achieved some incredible race results and all on a vegan diet. I always thought he sounded like an interesting chap. He also loves to prepare his vegan food too and this also interests me. I am far from vegan, or even vegetarian, but my meat consumption is very low and I really appreciate good vegetarian/vegan food. The book is littered with his own vegan recipes for some of his favourite vegan fare. So with his diet and his race results in mind, I had high hopes for this book. It had the ingredients of a good read. Would this hold true?
Scott has a very easy reading and engaging style which had me reaching for it every opportunity. He talks a fair amount though not excessively, about his difficult childhood which he really believes formed him into the tough, ‘never give up’ character that helps make him such a successful runner. He is very open about his feeling about his parents at various times and on more than one time, apologises before he states something not too positive about a particular time. His dad was ex-military and carried through the discipline with his family. He would often say “sometimes you just do things” when Scott would ask why he had to do a certain task. This phrase seems to have turned from a negative thing into a bit of a mantra for Scott when the going got hard in his running and also his life.
His attention to detail with regards to his need to perform at his genetic best is evident from an early age as his rather ‘straight’ lifestyle is in sharp contrast with his unlikely friend, Dusty, who is clearly a gifted athlete with seemingly the opposite approach to Scott.
His diet is a major part of Scott’s life and he attributes a large portion of his success on this ‘secret weapon’, veganism. He is not exactly the original vegan athlete, but he certainly seems to have experimented enough to get to a point where there was no longer any doubt in his mind that he could perform at a level equal to a carnivore or indeed as he believes, higher.
Scott openly describes his most notable performances with how the build up went, describing how he won with a badly swollen sprained ankle and also his win at Spartathlon with a broken toe! He clearly has something quite incredible and has done a very good job of taking advantage of it. He also talks a lot about the spiritual side to ultra running and how the mind, if in good shape can be more powerful than a great fitness, which is something I am learning more and more as I go longer and longer.
As previously mentioned there are a number of Scott’s favourite vegan recipes in the book. There is one at the end of each chapter, and they usually have some link to the chapter you have just finished. I have yet to try out any of them but some of them look very interesting and I will certainly be trying them out in the near future. A nice touch to a book that would stand alone without the recipes.
All in all this is a fantastic book that makes for some very interesting and inspiring reading. His dedication and humility is present at all times and he is a great figurehead for the sport. This book would be a great read for all ultrarunners without a doubt, but also for runners and even non runners. It is an easy read written with an intelligence that makes it a pleasure. I love the fact that when he finishes a race he will get his sleeping bag out and climb into it at the finishline, then cheer people in till the last man comes in! A fine gesture. Get yourself a copy and get inspired!