Eat & Run Book Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like

I just finished reading the Kindle version of Scott Jurek’s new book, Eat & Run. I read some reviews on it first and was a little sick of all the rose-colored, glowing feedback. Although I enjoyed the book, I wrote a more critical review and included both what I loved and didn’t like. No spoilers here, so read freely.

What I Liked

Nutrition vs Running

I was worried that this was going to be a vegan nutrition book. It was not. It was more a book about running, and he mentions veganism as it relates to his development as a runner.

I liked that, because there are so many other places to go for great vegan content. But not many Scott Jureks out there who can talk about his life experience and running ultras.

Jurek did a great job writing about veganism in a way that doesn’t repel runners who follow other diets. However, don’t be surprised if he inspires you to give veganism a try

Personal Stuff

I was wondering how much of his personal life Jurek would share in this book, and I was happy to find that he did in fact share quite a lot. He talks about his childhood, his parents, his rough relationship with his father, and his struggles with his ex-wife.

Jurek is really honest and mature in his perspective and neither blames nor rants. He doesn’t make excuses for his hardships, and he did an amazing job at handling some of the delicate personal details of his life. It was a pleasure to read.

Inspirational

The one thing that I respect most about Jurek that I find is rare in other elites is his passion for inspiring others to run. He doesn’t care if you’re training for your first 5K or winning your age group at an ultra—he will cheer for you. Jurek is someone who stays at the finish line and waits for the last runner, and that comes out in his writing.

What I Didn’t Like

Running vs Ultra Running

Jurek did a great job making his book relevant to all runners, not just ultra marathoners. When he addresses the reader, he even refers to people running 5Ks. While this is inclusive, it also made me feel that certain portions of the book weren’t written for me.

For example, he explains very basic ultra running info, such as why we take salt pills. This is a great book for anyone who has not run an ultra, or is new to the sport… but part of me hopes that he writes another book more focused on an ultra audience.

Still, ultra runners will still read this because they know who he is and are able to learn more about his life. So in many ways, this book covers the best of both worlds. It just leaves me wanting more.

Jurek brieftly mentions a point where he was gathered with other top runners, and they were all discussing the sport of ultra running. THAT’S the type of content I want to read. An elite’s more in-depth perspective on the nature of the sport. What is he talking about with those other guys? He goes into it briefly, but I want more of that.

There are so many books out there that cater to new runners, and that’s great.  But as far as ultra running, all we really have are some books on how to run ultras.

We don’t have many ultra running memoirs targeted to an endurance audience who are already obsessed with the sport, and don’t need to be inspired to get active. I was hoping this might be a book like that. It was closer than others, but not quite. I wanted to read about Jurek completely nerding out on the sport’s history, where it’s going, and all the details in between.

At a few points in the book, Jurek hints at a darker side to ultra running. A place with some bureaucracy. Where egos may get in the way. A few hard feelings. As a mid-packer in the ultra community, these are details that often escape me.

I show up to an ultra, everyone is nice, and there is no drama. But a first-place finisher sees a different perspective. Aid stations that aren’t ready for him. Volunteers who write him off as doomed. Doubters and nay-sayers at every race. This is a world I want to read about in more depth.

Personal Stuff

Although Jurek did open up his personal life, there was one burning question I had before I bought the book, and I wondered if he would cover it here. It was related to his divorce, but he didn’t address it.

I can completely understand why, and it’s not my story to tell, so I don’t think I’ll go into it anymore. But those who are perhaps closer to his story, or at least to the ultra/minimalist community may know what I’m talking about.

I can hardly criticize Jurek for any omissions. The only negative here is that I’m still left with some burning questions. But then again, maybe I ask too many.

Recipes

Jurek’s recipes were certainly relevant, but I felt they were misplaced. A book chapter would end in a very powerful and emotional place, and the next thing that’s in your face is a vegan recipe. I felt like that placement cheapened both the story and the recipes themselves.

I found myself skipping the recipes entirely because I wanted to get back to the story. Had the recipes been placed at the end all together, I would have taken more time to look through them. It is also difficult to use this as a recipe book, since all the recipes are spread out instead of in one more convenient chapter.

Conclusions

Read this book. No matter what type of runner you are, you will find something here to inspire you. You will also learn a few things. If you ever have the chance to meet Jurek in person, do it. You will find him to be very humble and approachable. The worst thing I can really say about this book is that it left me wishing there was more.

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11 responses

  1. Vanessa, i to had asked myself the same question… “what about his divorce?”
    I think the things that i was wondering were why did they divorce. I am a husband and a father of four with a full time job. fitting my runs in daily are very challenging and i don’t take for granted the time that it does take away from my family.
    so i wondered with scott how he managed his time away from Leah with all that training and racing that i can’t imagine it didn’t have an effect on their relationship. i mean, packing up and going to western states weeks before the race to train leaving his wife home just doesnt compute with me. i am not saying that he was wrong for doing so but i just know how much strain that type of thing can have on a relationship.

    i loved the book as well.

    Cheers!!

    • I have all the same questions. I couldn’t make my last relationship (with a non-runner) work out, and I’m nowhere near training as much as Scott does. I’m really interested in how he (or any elite) tries to make it work. It’s one of those things that’s difficult to ask someone if you don’t know them well.

    • Here is what I didn’t like…Leah was an INTEGRAL part of his race crew for Western States, Badwater, etc.!!! And Scott NEVER mentions this in the book. I like Scott a ton, great guy, but I found it disappointing he did not give Leah the credit she deserved. Almost as if his current wife edited the book :)

  2. Thanks for the book review. I’ve been curious about the book but thought it was going to be mostly a call to veganism – after reading your review though, it sounds like I really need to get and read this. (And here’s to hoping for a followup that better fits what you – and I – were hoping for!)

    • Allen – I too was worried it would be a vegan propaganda book, and I was pleasantly surprised. Scott waxes nostalgic of family meals of his childhood that included butter, meat, etc. He is a vegan, he encourages veganism, but he does not view it like a cult religion, thankfully. He is VERY respectful, and I, for one, appreciate that. I feel better eating vegetarian as well, and this book has inspired me to give part-time veganism a try. If more vegetarians and vegans had this mindset, it would be more popular!

  3. Thanks for the review. I’ve been thinking I should pick the book up, but after reading one of Brendan Brazier’s books, I’m a little gun-shy about buying a vegan athlete’s book (and I am vegan). Sounds like Jurek’s is worth reading.

  4. You nailed it on the review. I just finished reading it and had all the same thoughts. I was really hoping for a deeper perspective on the ultra running and more insight into the training and the perspectives that only elite ultra runners could have, but I can certainly understand writing the book for a wider audience. He does mention his debt quite a few times throughout the story. I almost lost interest halfway through, but picked it back up and the book got better and some of that “beginner” feeling faded as the story progressed. Veganism particularly interests me and was a part of my decision to buy my own copy. I wish the recipes came in a separate book that could stay handy in the kitchen or travel to the grocery store. Your experience with skipping them to get back to the story was shared by me. I would also have loved a list of all the books he mentioned reading about running and philosophy over the years.

  5. I normally blog at my book review blog (www.coffeeandabookchick.com) but recently started running and so I started another blog to keep a record of everything. I stumbled on your blog and love seeing this review! I’m not familiar with this book but am certainly always looking for more recommendations to be toppling over bookshelf! :)

  6. Alot of your thoughts on this book resonated with me. I’ll admit, i wanted to hear his side of the divorce too and i felt overall the book catered to the widest possible audience – which is good for his publishers but it missed out on the real perspective and insider knowledge he could bring. I was also really disappointed in the rehashing of his ‘born to run’ escapade’s – down to republishing the same pics from the original book! I did enjoy his epic trail run chapter – that spirit of adventure outside of racing is what running is about to me.

  7. Good review Vanessa!,Its an interesting story, told well, with a good balance of biographical info and (ultra) running as a sport. Certainly inspiring & a worthy read.
    Perfectly agree with your comment about recipes being a mis-placed. I too skipped most mainly because they were coming in the way of the story..they had no connection/link to the content in that chapter so felt out-of-place! Except this minor flaw, this is a great book and gives us a peek into the life of a living legend that Scott Jurek is!!

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