Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: North by Scott Jurek

I talk to my running friends all the time about mindfulness and gratitude in running, and how those things will take every runner to a higher level. Don't take my word for it. Take the word of the greatest ultra runner ever.

I have recently completed the book Scott Jurek's new book, North: Finding My Way While Running The Appalachian Trail. Co-written with his crew chief/wife Jenny, Jurek retells his epic journey to set the Fastest Known Time on the 2189 mile legendary trail.

Travelling up and down endless mountains while experiencing pain and sacrifice I hope everyone I know never subjects themselves to, Jurek's tale is an excruciating journey as you will ever read.

Which leads to two obvious questions: Why? and How?

Why is relatively easy. Jurek, arguably the greatest ultrarunner ever, explains he is no different than any of us. We struggle to get through a 5km race or a 20km training run or up that big hill. He goes to extremes we wouldn't even dream of, but his why is no different than your why. It is an individual answer for every runner, but it is ultimately for that sense of challenge and accomplishment. We are all looking to create our own masterpiece.

The answer as to how is quite fascinating. Throughout Jurek's journey he was criticized for taking too much time to meet other hikers, listening to their stories and letting them take the coveted selfie. Instead of resting at base camps he would give these fans what they wanted, even though critics and crewing partners practically begged him not too. It was costing too much time.

But what Jurek knew is he had to embrace the full Appalachian Trail experience to get through. That is where all the other racers failed, and that is why Jurek succeeded. He soaked in the entire experience and found an unreal gratitude that got him through the unbelievable pain, the sacrifice, the hurt and the many tough times. And we can do all do the same when it starts hurting in our 5k race or cresting that big hill.

I'm a huge fan of Scott Jurek and his amazing accomplishments. So it comes as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He is a nice guy and an easy-to-read writer.  You will find the book full of suspenseful, inspiring adventure. It does not matter that none of us can not fathom what he does. There many parallels to find in your own running.

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