In 22 very well written episodes Scott convey the subtle balance between the joy and pain associated to ultra running, the balance between the physical and mental preparedness. Although one key of this balance has been for him to switch to a vegan diet, and that you may not be willing to go that far, the book is a great source of motivation and mental strength. Scott also shares many technical nuggets from his unmatched experience, running tips which cover breathing, posture, time management, pacing, dietetic (of course!), training plan, footwear, core training or stride form and cadence.
A few quotes which I particularly like:
- "Racing ultras requires absolute confidence tempered with intense humility."
- "Run until you can't run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster."
- "I run because overcoming the difficulties of an ultramarathon reminds me that I can overcome the difficulties of life, that overcoming difficulties was life."
While you can have a look at how great Scott's racing career will turn out (e.g. in Wikipedia or UltraSignup.com), these words apply to anyone entering an ultra race and learning from the many lessons this sport has to offer, a sport that we often describes as a continuous life and human open lab experiment. An endeavor capable of changing you from the inside out as Christopher McDougall (Born To Run) qualifies Scott's own experience.
Scott (red top) right after his 6th consecutive win at Western States, with his best friend, confident, pacer, ass-kicker, Dusty (photo credit: Robin Mills)
Scott Dunlap which is that running allows us to stay fit while enjoying eating (and, no, that's not the only reason we run! ;-). Scott (Jurek) goes much farther and seriously in associating this two concepts, demonstrating how eating well turns into running excellence.
Overall the book will show you Scott the way some of us had the pleasure to discover when meeting him at ultra races but with a much deeper introspection than his humility was hiding so far, highlighting new traits I didn't know myself: a special blend of human and intellectual intelligence, open-mindedness, gifted but very hard working, kindness, passion, mental toughness (e.g. winning two major 100-mile races with a sprained ankle), humility and competitiveness, resilience, sensitivity, compassion, integrity, pragmatism, attachment to family values and friendship, care giving, ...
You don't have to be aiming at winning Western States 7 times in a row to read or like Eat & Run, nor to become a vegan. If you are a runner, you will find in this book a lot of inspiration to handle your own struggles, during races or simply in life! Thank you for opening both your heart and your mind, Scott, and going through this ultra race that writing and publishing a book is!
And as Brooks says, Run Happy out there! ;-)
PS: chatting about the Brooks Cascadia at Miwok 2007