“Sometimes, you just do things”: Eat and Run Book Review

So it may have taken me a few months, but I finally got my library card renewed here in Chicago. Seriously, it was like pulling teeth. I have no idea why Chicago is so reluctant to allow me to check out books from the library, but it took a couple trips and a couple pleading “But surely a copy of my LEASE is a proves me Chicago residency!” talks with the poor librarian on duty, but now I’m good to go and back to my old reading habits.

To be honest, the main reason I wanted my library card renewed in the first place was because I was dying to read Scott Jurek’s “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness.” I had first heard about the book from Lenka, and as a nearly-vegan myself who had also read and loved “Born to Run,” this book was first on my to-do list. So I went about procuring it the old-fashioned way: got my library card up to speed, reserved the book online, picked it up the next day, and got to reading it on the bus in good old hardback form! (As you can see, I’m still resisting the Kindle…)

For those of you who don’t know, Scott Jurek is the greatest ultramarathoner in America, and possibly in the worldn- a complete badass who’s run a 135-mile race through Death Valley, among other things. A native Minnesotan who grew up in a rough family environment, his personal motto of “Sometimes, you just do things” is adapted from what his hard-nosed dad used to tell him growing up. Scott took up cross-country skiing and ran as cross-training, eventually realizing that his body functioned better when he was also eating a mostly plant-based diet. After placing in his first 50 mile race, he began to appreciate the meditative aspect of running and how he could use running to escape from his sick mother, stern father, difficult studies, and more.

As a vegetarian runner myself, I get asked a lot how I get all of the protein I need, and Jurek’s book helps prove that meat just isn’t a necessity for an athlete’s diet. To illustrate his point further, Jurek ends every chapter with a recipe he’s developed himself that helps fuel his body before, during, and after his epic runs (up to 165 miles at a time!). I love the idea of eating whole, unprocessed foods during my run rather than relying on gels and GUs and other things that have ingredients I can’t pronounce- in fact, I plan on experimenting with some of these recipes during my marathon training!

Also, this book is incredibly inspiring in general. I read it during my peak mileage for half marathon training (tapering starts this week!), and Jurek really helped put my training in perspective. He would often run ten miles before work, and then come back at night and run 20-30 more before calling it a day. Thinking about his dedication to running made me realize that in the grand scheme of things, I can definitely take an hour out of my day to run without any room for excuses! Another aspect of the book that I found fascinating was Jurek’s discussion of “satori”, or being in THE ZONE during your run and mentally checking out. He writes that it’s an achievable, but not sustainable runner’s high, and personally, I could really relate to chasing this feeling as motivation to run in the first place.

“Eat and Run” is part autobiography, part how-to, and part philosophy- I didn’t find it overly cheesy, and reading it reinvigorated my love for running at a great time, right before I’m about to start running some big races. This book gets five stars from me, and I wish I could hold on to it longer! I might end up buying it for myself to keep on hand as a resource and occasional kick-in-the-pants. And I definitely plan on using “Sometimes, you just do things” as a mantra during my half on May 18th.

What about you guys? Anyone read “Eat and Run” or “Born to Run”? I’m checking out “Running with Kenyans” next, so stay tuned for an upcoming review!

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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