With marathon training demanding five runs a week, the longer ones of which are further than I’ve trained at before, I have to admit that it’s taken rather a lot of mental grit keep on top of my training plan this week.
Luckily whenever I feel myself flagging I can boost my motivation by just picking up a book. For Christmas I was given Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run and I have been devouring it ever since.
Jurek is an ultramarathon-running vegan and Eat and Run is his compelling and engaging journey ‘to ultramarathon greatness’.
Jurek’s resolve that there is always time to run – that if you want to improve as a runner, you have to carve out time in your day for it – is inspiring.
His determination to run and finish races despite broken toes and seriously sprained ankles, dehydration, intense heat, nausea, vomiting and a whole panoply of other obstacles and ailments is incredible (if not a little insane).
But then it is that insanity and unflinching dedication that makes Jurek such an amazing athlete.
More than this, Jurek lives running. This is clear from the way his diet has evolved, from junk-food eating carnivore to raw-food vegan, and how he uses his diet to fuel his gruelling running habit.
His readings of Percy Cerutty and Herbert Elliot also attest to a philosophy which underpins his running and his desire for self improvement. He quotes from them: from Elliott, ‘Let’s become more compassionate, let’s become bigger, let’s become stronger, let’s become nicer people’; and from Cerutty, ‘you only ever grow as a human being if you are outside your comfort zone’.
While I run, I think of the advice, given to him by his friend ‘Hippy Dan’ on connecting with your surroundings and his reflections on running intuitively, being aware of your body – what it needs, how to adjust your stride and cadence to respond to twinges or pain.
Jurek reflects on the ‘beautiful thing of barefoot running…working with your body’s natural…ability to sense your own position in space’ and getting ‘immediate sensory feedback with every step.’
‘But whether you wear shoes or go barefoot, what is important is that you pay attention to your form. If running barefoot helps with that, then it’s beneficial.’
He also notes that while there is value in tracking and monitoring progress using various technical devices, there is also value in keeping it simple: ‘If you want to win, get out there and train, and then train some more!’
Jurek’s story is inspiring and his motivation and drive incredible.
I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting a bit of running inspiration and who doubts what the human body can achieve when primed and fuelled properly.