A few weeks ago, I had the treat of hearing ultramarathoner and author of the bestselling new book Eat & Run, Scott Jurek, speak in Wayzata, Minnesota, when he came through on his sold-out book tour. Because he happened to be in his home state, he called his sidekicks up to the podium, including Hippie Dan Proctor; his high school Nordic ski coach, Glen Sorenson; and his pacer, Dusty Olson. With plenty of families and young kids in the audience, the conversation naturally turned to how athletes of all ages can eat healthily.
Growing up in Duluth in the 1980s, running high school cross country, and fueling up on meat and potatoes and greasy gut bombs at McDonald's, Jurek learned first hand that eating well is essential to running well. Now 38, he’s won 24 ultra races in the past decade, including the infamously brutal Hard Rock 100 and the Western States 100 (with a record seven straight victories) and has established himself as the most dominant ultrarunner in history. Not coincidentally, he’s also vegan.
Seeing Jurek speak inspired me to look closely at the link between what I eat and how I run—something I’ve been thinking about a lot ever since I came down with the flu this winter and a friend delivered freshly juiced veggies to my door. After two juices, I felt so much better that I dusted off our juicer so I could concoct my own super elixirs. Three months in, my husband, four sons, and I eat more fruits and veggies throughout the day and crave less meat and carbohydrates. As a result, we have more energy and have both been running more—a half marathon for Peter and the Afton Trail Run 25K this past weekend for both of us. We’re not going vegan or raw any time soon, but it’s safe to say we’re becoming “flexitarians.” On the days we don’t juice or rely heavily on fruits and veggies, we all feel the energy drag.