The book is refreshingly well written. I would have cast it aside, dust jacket and all, if it were not (like I said, I only read memoir under duress, so it better impress and fast). For the most part, the writing is invisible (a good thing) with the occasional glistening phrase that made me stop and say, “I wish I had written that.”
In 2010, Mr Jurek ran 165.7 miles in 24 hours (setting a U.S. record). I probably ran less than 24 miles total in all of 2010. He’s a strict vegan. I had bacon for breakfast. Yet his book not only spoke to me, it shouted.
That’s not to say I plan on running 100 miles across Death Valley in the Badwater Ultra any time soon (correction, any time EVER). Scott Jurek may write about running, but what he’s really talking about is life. And what he says is relevant to us all:
- Keep Going! Whether you’re 40 miles into a race with 60 yet to go or writing a novel you’re not sure anyone will publish this simple advice is golden. Success is possible.
- Not all pain is significant. In Jurek’s world this may mean a broken toe or sprained ankle. For me it’s more likely to be an numb butt, carpel tunnel, or (more seriously) that rejection letter sitting in my inbox. But we can’t stop every time it hurts.
- Sometimes you just do things. Sometimes training for an ultramarathon means getting up before dawn and running 30 miles in the knee-deep snow. Sometimes creating a good chapter means writing and rewriting then scraping it all and writing and rewriting again. In times like these, it’s best not to ruminate. Just get up and do it.
- Perfection is not an accident. Scott Jurek trains hard and smart. He eats well (ok, really well). And he wins ultramarathons time and time again. Perhaps perfection is asymptotic, that is you can get ever nearer but never quite reach it. Even so, getting close takes work.
- It’s not losing that defines us. It’s what we do afterward. No one can win every race. Whether the race is running or publishing or applying for a job or promotion—loss, disappointment at some point is inevitable. What to do then? Keep Going!