Vegan ultra runner Scott Jurek on how to achieve amazing athletic success on a vegan diet

Scott Jurek was born in 1973, and started running at an early age, running helped him to switch off from problems in the family. He ran further and further every day. He ran because it brought him pleasure and allowed him to forget about reality for a while. No wonder running is considered a kind of meditation. At first, he did not show high results, and at the competitions of local schools he took the twentieth place out of twenty-five. But Scott ran all the same, because one of the mottos of his life was the words of his father, “We must, then we must.”

For the first time, he thought about the relationship between nutrition and training at the Berka Team ski camp, while still at school. At the camp, the guys were fed vegetable lasagna and various salads, and Scott noticed how much more energetic he felt after such a meal, and how intense his workouts became. After returning home from camp, he began to include in his diet what he used to consider “hippie food”: apple granola for breakfast and whole grain pasta with spinach for lunch. Relatives and friends looked at him with bewilderment, and there was not always enough money for expensive unusual products. Therefore, such nutrition did not become a habit at that time, and Scott became a vegan later, thanks to the girl Lea, who later became his wife.

There were two turning points in his views on nutrition. The first is when he, while practicing physical therapy in one of the hospitals (Scott Jurek is a doctor by training), learned about the three main causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer and stroke. All of them are directly related to the typical Western diet, which is dominated by refined, processed and animal products. The second point that influenced Scott’s views was an article that accidentally caught my eye about the doctor Andrew Weil, who believed that the human body has great potential for self-healing. He just needs to provide the necessary conditions: maintain proper nutrition and reduce the consumption of toxins.

Coming to veganism, Scott Jurek began to combine several types of protein products in one dish in order to provide the body with the necessary amount of protein. He made lentil and mushroom patties, hummus and olive patties, brown rice and bean burritos.

When asked how to get enough protein to achieve such success in sports, he shared several tips: add nuts, seeds and protein flour (for example, from rice) to morning smoothies, for lunch, in addition to a huge serving of green salad, have pieces of tofu or add a few scoops of hummus and have a full protein meal of legumes and rice for dinner.

The further Scott progressed along the path of a complete vegan diet, the more competition victories he had behind him. He came first where others gave up altogether. When the race took a day, you had to take food with you. Scott Jurek made himself potatoes, rice burritos, hummus tortillas, containers of homemade almond paste, tofu “cheesy” spread, and bananas ahead of time. And the better he ate, the better he felt. And the better I felt, the more I ate. The fat accumulated while eating fast food was gone, the weight was reduced, and the muscles were built up. The recovery time between loads has been reduced.

Unexpectedly, Scott got his hands on Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and decided to try becoming a raw foodist and see what happens. He cooked himself all kinds of salads, raw flatbreads and drank a lot of fruit smoothies. Taste buds sharpened to the point that Scott could effortlessly detect the freshness of food. Over time, he nevertheless returned to veganism, and this happened for several reasons. According to Scott Jurek himself, too much time was spent counting calories and chewing food. I had to eat often and a lot, which with his lifestyle was not always convenient. However, it was thanks to the experience of a raw food diet that smoothies became a solid part of his diet.

Before one of Hardrock’s toughest “wild and unstoppable” runs, Scott sprained his leg and pulled his ligaments. To somehow alleviate the situation, he drank liters of soy milk with turmeric and lay with his leg up for hours. He was getting better, but running for a whole day along a route where there are not even trails seemed crazy. Only half of the participants made it to the finish line, and several people died from pulmonary edema and digestive disorders. And hallucinations due to lack of sleep for such races are common. But Scott Jurek not only managed this marathon, overcoming pain, but also won, improving the course record by 31 minutes. As he ran, he reminded himself that “Pain is just pain” and “Not every pain deserves attention.” He was wary of drugs, especially the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen, which his running rivals swallowed in handfuls. So Scott came up with a unique anti-inflammatory smoothie recipe for himself, which included, among other things, pineapple, ginger and turmeric. This drink soothed muscle pain and helped to recover well during training.

The athlete’s favorite childhood dish was mashed potatoes with a good portion of milk. After becoming a vegan, he came up with a plant-based version of it, replacing cow’s milk with rice, which, by the way, he prepares himself. Rice milk is not as expensive as nut milk, and at the same time very tasty. He not only added it to the main dishes, but also made smoothies and energy shakes for training based on it.

In the ultra-marathoner’s menu, there was also a place for desserts, the most useful and rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates. One of Scott’s favorite desserts is chocolate bars made from beans, bananas, oatmeal, rice milk and cocoa. Chia seed pudding, now so popular among vegetarians, is also a great dessert option for an athlete, again thanks to its record protein content. And, of course, Scott Jurek made raw energy balls from nuts, seeds, dates, and other dried fruits.

Vegan sports nutrition is not as complicated as it seems at first glance. At the same time, it gives unreal energy, increases strength and endurance dozens of times.

According to Jurek himself, our lives are shaped by the steps we are taking right now. Scott Jurek found his personal path through balanced nutrition and running. Who knows, maybe it will help you too.  

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