I picked up this book “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek a while ago but have read it afresh over this holiday break. It’s a pretty decent story, similar to that of Rich Roll’s book “Finding Ultra,” of a vegan ultramarathoner’s journey from childhood through crazy race adventures and along the way describing some of the beauty that’s hard to put into words, why runners love running. He talks about his mom’s MS and his dad’s toughness spurring him on early in life. He omits much of his marriage from the book, and you find out why later on in the book. He raced the Western States 100, the Badwater through Death Valley, the Hardrock 100, the Copper Canyon in Mexico, and many other crazy challenging races. He made great lifelong friends along the way and continually learned more about himself and life’s meaning. And there are good vegan recipes in there for pre-during-post fuel. Here are some excerpts direct quotes are in quotation marks, and the rest is my paraphrasing:
- “I’m convinced that a lot of people run ultramarathons for the same reason they take mood-altering drugs. I don’t mean to minimize the gifts of friendship, achievement, and closeness to nature that I’ve received in my running career. But the longer and father I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind- a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus. I don’t think anyone starts running distances to obtain that kind of vision. I certainly didn’t. But I don’t think anyone who runs ultra distances with regularity fails to get there. The trick is to recognize the vision when it comes over you.”
- “The key is to become immersed in the present moment where nothing else matters.”
- “It was the moment in an ultramarathon that I have learned to live for, to love. It was that time when everything seems hopeless, when to go on seems futile, and when a small act of kindness, another step, a sip of water, can make you realize that nothing is futile, that going on- especially when going on seems so foolish- is the most meaningful thing in the world.”
- “That’s one of the many great pleasures of an ultramarathon. You can hurt more than you ever thought possible, then continue until you discover that hurting isn’t that big of a deal.
- There is a 4 step checklist when you feel your wall: 1) Let yourself feel what you’re feeling and acknowledge it 2) take stock and determine that it’s not life-threatening, 3) ask yourself what you can do to remedy the situation (if nothing, “keep moving” is the answer), and 4) “Separate negative thoughts from reality. Don’t dwell on feelings that aren’t going to help.”
- When you’re in a funk “I find the best way to get your running mojo back is to lose the technology, forget results, and run free…Run for the same reason you ran as a child- for enjoyment. Take your watch off. Run in your jeans. Run with a dog (does he seem worried?). Run with someone older or younger, and you’ll see running, and the world, differently. I know I have. Run a trail you have never run before. Pick a new goal, race, or a large loop that keeps you motivated to get out on those bad-weather days. Do all and any of these things often enough, and you’ll remember why you started running in the first place- it’s fun.”
- “It was time to rest. Then I would eat. And then, run again. They are simple activities, common as grass. And they’re sacred. Pilgrims seeking bliss carry water and chop wood, and they’re simple things, too, but if they’re approached with mindfulness and care, with attention to the present and humility, they can provide a portal to transcendence. They can illuminate the path leading to something larger than ourselves. It’s easy to get wrapped up in deadlines and debt, victory and loss. Friends squabble. Loved ones leave. People suffer. A 100-mile race- or a 5K, or a run around the block- won’t cure pain. A plate filled with guacamole and dinosaur kale will not deliver anyone from sorrow. But you can be transformed. Not overnight, but over time. Life is not a race. Neither is an ultramarathon, not really, even though it looks like one. There is no finish line. We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal. What’s crucial is the step we’re taking now, the step you’re taking now.”
I love reading running biographies and stories because they strike a chord inside of me for just how powerful and amazing the human mind, soul, and willpower are. We genuinely can do anything we decide to do. We have no excuses except ones we make up in our own heads. Get out of your own way!