One of America’s premiere ultra-marathoners, Scott Jurek holds the U.S. record for running the farthest in a 24-hour span: 165.7 miles or about 6.3 marathons. He’s also vegan, and in Eat & Run, Jurek new autobiography, he details not only his running life, but also his diet. We asked him how it’s possible to run so far, so quickly, and still watch what you eat.
- Q: When did your interest in food arise?
- A: My mother was a 1970s Betty Crocker-type cook, pot roast, pork chops, you name it. Later on, maybe when I was about seven, I had to cook for her and my family when she started having the effects of MS. I’d always helped my grandmother make bread, harvested vegetables and fried up the fish we caught, but this made me realize the importance of nutrition.
- Q: Sounds like you’re from a pretty rural background. Was your family hip to you changing your diet?
- A: I still go back for family gatherings and my aunts and uncles are blown away:You don’t eat meat?!My dad’s more receptive, he understands it, but at the beginning it was, you know, You still eat chicken, right?
- Q: What first encouraged you to change how you eat?
- A: It wasn’t a light bulb as much as a continual shift, but the first thing was seeing disease in the family and my experience with my mom. Later, I was training as a physical therapist and spending time in hospitals and seeing what the patients ate and I began to consider nutrition. I read about how other cultures ate less meat and more plants and it struck a chord this is what health is about.
- Q: How does it coincide with your running?
- A: It was a huge mental obstacle and before the first Western States ultra-marathon, it was daunting. I started to doubt myself about a week before the race maybe I should have eaten protein? But once I got over that mental hurdle, I realized I was making a shift in my entire body. I felt more energetic, recovery times were better and I lost about 10 or 15 pounds; I now have definition in my muscles that I didn’t have in college.
- Q: And what were you eating in college?
- A: Whoppers and cheese balls, your basic college stuff.
- Q: Do you ever miss eating pot roast and pork chops?
- A: For someone who hated vegetables as kid, an adolescent, as a teenager and throughout college, it’s funny, but I really don’t feel like I am denying myself. I’m trying new things and letting my taste buds experience new flavours. It’s a fun journey challenging at times, like in airports, rural diners and family gatherings and my results show that I’m living proof that you can eat this way and succeed as a runner.
Eat & Run by Scott Jurek is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- United States record for 24-hour distance on all surfaces (165.7 Miles/266.01 Kilometers)
- Won the Spartathlon 152-mile (245km) race from Athens to Sparta, Greece three consecutive times (2006-2008)
- Won the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, and held the record time for one year until Kyle Skaggs set a new record in 2008
- Won theÂ Western States Endurance Run seven consecutive times (1999-2005), and held the record time (15:36:27 in 2004) until 2010
- Won the Badwater UltramarathonÂ twice (2005, 2006), and held the course record for two years (2005)
- Finished first three times (2002-2004) and second three times (2001, 2005, 2006) in the Miwok 100K Trail Race
- Won the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run four times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
- Won the Diez Vista 50K Trail Run twice (2000, 2003)
- Won the montrail Ultra Cup series twice (2000, 2003)
- Selected as UltraRunning Magazine’s North American Male Ultrarunner of the YearÂ in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007
- 100 Mile Trail: 15:36, Western States Endurance Run 2004
- 100K Road: 7:28, GNC 100K 2001
- 50 Mile Trail: 6:21, Ice Age 50 Mile 1999
- 50 Mile Road: 5:50, GNC 2001
- 50K Trail: 3:04, Bendistillery 50K 1999
- 26.2 Mile Road Marathon: 2:38, Austin Marathon 2006