Scott Jurek is one of the most decorated ultrarunners in the world. He is the 7-time consecutive winner of The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, holder of the 2015 speed record for the Appalachian Trail, 2-time consecutive winner of the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, 3-time consecutive winner of the 152-mile Spartathon, and winner of the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. He is a father, husband, and friend. A vegetarian, a speaker, and a consultant.
More than anything, Jurek is a runner.
Starting his athletic career as a cross-country skier, he was eventually introduced to long-distance running where things really took off. He ran relentlessly and trained with an insane amount of miles. He found programs and races that met his needs. He signed up for events that he knew were possible, but would also challenge him.
Ultramarathons are races that are longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Ultrarunners are the athletes that compete in these races. Some common distances for ultramarathons are 50 kilometers, 50 miles, 100 kilometers, and 100 miles. There are many other distances everywhere in between and above as well as races based on time, such as 24-hour races.
The thing with extremely long endurance races is that they must be completed few and far between. You can not expect to maintain a hectic race schedule for long. Jurek found the balance where he can race competitively and win, but eventually, he knew his career would end. He focused on racing well when he could.
While this book offers more stories and personal experiences than how-tos to competing in the ultrarunning world, there is quite a bit of knowledge presented. Jurek clearly is an expert at his sport and wants to share what he knows. Besides the obvious tips and tricks, I learned quite a bit.
What I Learned:
- Pain is not permanent
- Running is as much mental as physical
- Accomplishing goals is addicting
- You can’t always win
- Doing your best won’t always be enough
- Don’t over-commit
- Plants are powerful fuel
- Running is fun
While Jurek is a skilled athlete, he isn’t naturally a writer. So, he recruited Steve Friedman to help with this book. I’m so glad that Jurek’s stories are presented in well-written and clear prose. Friedman captured Jurek’s voice and created an engaging memoir.
The tales of crazy running adventures range from carefree and loving to dangerous and exhausting. Jurek learns as he goes and lets the reader know that he didn’t start this journey knowing everything.
I liked that the memoir was fast-paced. I was invested and engaged.
I am a runner myself, so reading these types of books is very encouraging and inspiring. I first learned of Jurek while reading Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run where Jurek is prominently featured. While I am not an ultrarunner, I can relate to the feelings of hard work and elation when reaching a new running goal.
I find renewed interest in the sport of running by learning how far to the extremes people push themselves during races. The idea of a 100-mile race seems daunting, but Jurek makes the reader feel like accomplishing any distance is possible with the proper attitude and training.
If you are looking to try a new sport or gain fitness, take inspiration from this elite runner. If you take the plunge into running… you’ll never look back.
Visit Jurek’s website at scottjurek.com for all the latest info. You’ll also find more vegan recipes in addition to those presented in the book.