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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.