Reading Nook: Eat & Run, Scott Jurek

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What can one of the most successful ultramarathoners teLL us about Enduring in Life?

What You Eat Affects How You Perform

Scott is an advocate for a plant-based diet, and manages to convey his passion for it without sounding preachy. He grew up on meat and potatoes, but noticed over time that the more leafy greens and whole grains he ate, the better he performed and felt.

A few key moments led to his adoption of a plant-based diet. One was while completing a physical therapy internship. He noticed a connection between his patients and what they ate.

He climbed into bed and looked at the lunch tray waiting for him: Salisbury steak drenched in something brown and congealed, instant potatoes, iridescent-looking canned peas. His expression said it might as well have been a tray of rocks. He didn’t say anything, but it was as though he was shouting. That’s when I heard part of the secret. What we eat is a matter of life and death. Food is who we are.

The more he incorporated whole, plant-based foods into his diet, the more benefits he noticed.

Meanwhile, I ran farther. I ran faster. The periods of soreness and fatigue that resulted were shorter and less severe. I was convinced it was the result of the plants I was eating and the meat I was not eating. The chili showed me I could recover faster without abusing my taste buds.

Whether or not you’re inspired to explore a plant-based diet, Scott shows us the value in experimenting with food and paying attention to how it affects performance. Some of us can carb load on beer, and some of us can’t handle the sauce. Cutting out processed foods and incorporating more colorful vegetables is something I aim for everyday.

Where You Come From Affects Where You Go

Everyone has a past. We can’t control where we come from, but we can choose how it directs our future.

Scott’s past included a stern dad, an unexpectedly and increasingly ill mom, and a heightened sense of responsibility and duty.  He learned to endure before he knew what endurance was, and he adopted a motto that would keep him going in his toughest races, and his darkest moments.

Sometimes you just do things.

This motto helped him win the Western States 100 seven consecutive times.

Be Open to Life’s Tangents

I didn’t run because it always felt good. My muscles ached, I had blisters, and I was having to go to the bathroom on the run – that was the summer I learned about the runner’s trots (cramps, gastrointestinal distress, and the urgent need to move your bowels). That was the summer I got honked at and run off the roads of northern Minnesota. I enjoyed the sense of movement and progress, discovering that I could reach places on my own without anyone driving me. But that’s not why I kept running. I ran because I wanted to ski.

Scott started running because he needed to build conditioning for skiing, and now he holds the United States record for 24-hour distance on all surfaces (165.7 Miles/266.01 Kilometers). That’s 6.5 marathons in one day!

Life doesn’t always go in straight lines. One passion can lead to another, and hidden talents can be sparked. Be open to the adventure, and welcome the paths that deviate from the main road.

Enduring Builds Strong Bonds

“It hit me that night – as I was contemplating a life alone on a country farm – how important friendship was to me. It also struck me how ironic it was that my most important friendships had come from a sport singular in its isolation and demands on self-reliance. Ultramarathons aren’t won by teams, yet the bonds I have forged through this sport of obsessive individualism are stronger than any others in my life.”

Ultramarathons are an exercise in enduring alone, but together.

Each runner has only themselves to rely on during a race, but they’re all fighting against some version of the same physical limitations and mental demons. It doesn’t seem strange that shared passions would lead to such a strong sense of camaraderie.

In The End, It’s The How That Matters

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.

Always, Sierra

What steps are you taking on the way to your goals?

What type of food helps fuel your runs?

Have you ever run an ultramarathon?

Do you have a motto or a mantra that gets you through the tough times?

Reading Nook: The Gifts of Imperfection

I’ve been reading (and re-reading) The Gifts of Imperfection for a couple of weeks. The focus of the book is letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be to embrace our true selves and live a wholehearted life. Our time in life is limited, who doesn’t want to experience it with their whole heart?

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One of the first things Brené Brown, the author, addresses is the difference between fitting in and belonging: 

“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

I remember being in middle school and carrying around one of these lovelies…

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I’m pretty sure mine was dark purple and covered in glitter. If I had the same purse as everyone else, I fit in and there was no reason not to like me…right?!

Fitting in is a way to protect our vulnerability and it truly can be a skill. You learn to be a chameleon, to read other people quickly, mimicking their phrases and body language, pretending to have the same interests or only revealing the things you have in common with them. It becomes a “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving.”

What does fitting in look like?

  • Putting the funky dress back on the rack because no one else you know would wear it
  • Keeping your opinions to yourself to avoid rocking the boat
  • Assuming your loved ones will say no to an event/concert/activity that’s outside their norm and not bothering to invite them
  • Postponing joining the walking club, the book club, the dance lessons, etc. because you want to look like you know what you’re doing
  • Saying yes to karaoke although singing in front of people makes you break out in hives
  • Walking into a room and hoping that the names of the people you don’t know will come up casually in conversation
  • Pretending you know all about that band your friend is talking about when you’ve never heard a single song

All that fitting in can be exhausting! It’s difficult to be two different people, the version you show to others, and the version you really want to be. When you accept yourself, flaws and all, you don’t need other people’s approval and acceptance, because you’re already living a life true to yourself. It becomes okay if not everyone likes you, because you like you.  

What does belonging look like?

  • Wearing the funky dress everywhere just because you love it
  • Inviting your colleagues to disagree with your opinions and creating genuine dialogue
  • Being excited about sharing your passions and activities with the ones you love, especially if it’s new to them
  • Joining the club or taking the lessons and proudly saying “I’m a beginner, teach me everything you know!”
  • Saying “no” to an activity and knowing it’s okay. You may not have all the same exact interests as every one of your friends and loved ones, but that’s what makes you different, interesting and fun.
  • Walking into a room and introducing yourself to all the new faces because you’re someone worth knowing
  • Inviting your friends to share their authentic selves by saying “I’ve never heard of that band. What about their music do you love?”

When you stop worrying about what other people think, you get a chance to be your kooky, wonderful self and engage in every moment of life. And, just as important, you show the people you love and meet that it’s okay for them to be their authentic selves as well.

“I try to make authenticity my number one goal when I go into a situation where I’m feeling vulnerable. If authenticity is my goal and I keep it real, I never regret it. I might get my feelings hurt, but I rarely feel shame. When acceptance or approval becomes my goal, and it doesn’t work out, that can trigger shame for me: “I’m not good enough.” If the goal is authenticity and they don’t like me, I’m okay. If the goal is being liked and the don’t like me, I’m in trouble.”

I’ll be remembering this every time I step out of my comfort zone, and I hope you will too. Let’s keep it real, people!

Always, Sierra

P.S. I’m a new blogger so I don’t have enough page views to be bribed to give positive product reviews…all opinions and thoughts are my own, just the way I like it.

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