Eat and Run
My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
coauthored with Steve Friedman, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
- It's a hard, simple calculus: Run until you can't run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.
- it wasn't until years later, when I began to study the connection between diet and exercise, nutrition and health, that I learned the importance of diet for everyone — not just athletes. I would learn that a plant-based diet meant more fiber, which sped food through the digestive tract, minimizing the impact of toxins. The same diet also meant more vitamins and minerals; more substances like lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene, which helps protect against chronic disease. And it would mean less refined carbohydrates and trans fats, both implicated in heart disease and other ailments.
- The point was living with grace, decency, and attention to the world, and breaking free of the artificial constructs in your own life.
- Ultrarunners — even the fiercest competitors — grow to love each other because we all love the same exercise in self-sacrifice and pursuit of transcendence. Because that’s what we’re all chasing —that “zone” where we are performing at the peak of our abilities. That instant when we think we can’t go on but do go on. We all know the way that moment feels, how rarely it occurs, and the pain we have to endure to grab it back again. The longer an ultrarunner competes, I believe, the more he grows to love not only the sport, not only his fellow ultrarunners, but people in general. We all struggle to find meaning in a sometimes painful world. Ultrarunners do it in a very distilled version.
- I'm healthier and I can run longer and faster because I eat a plant-based diet. But I don't preach to my carnivorous friends or lambaste anyone who eats a baked potato slathered with butter and sour cream. Anyone who pays attention to what they eat and how it affects them will naturally move toward plants — and toward health.
- To run 100 miles and more is to bring the body to the point of breaking, to bring the mind to the point of destruction, to arrive at that place where you can alter your consciousness. It was to see more clearly. As my yoga teacher would say, “Injuries are our best teachers.” 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 farther 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.
- Rational assessments too often led to rational surrenders.
- We move forward, but we must stay in the present.
- Nature's arena has a way of humbling and energizing us.
- We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.