The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 31, 2016 1:46 pm

Ultramarathoner talks about maintaining a vegan diet on the Appalachian Trail

Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette

When ultramarathoner and vegan Scott Jurek ran the Appalachian Trail in record time last summer, he had to make some adjustments to his usual running and diet.

Jurek covered about 50 miles a day for 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes between Springer Mountain, Georgia and Mount Katahdin, Maine. He broke the previous record by about three hours held by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

His usual vegan diet consists of a lot of vegetables and salads but that just wasn't enough sustenance for what he was trying to do.

"I think my diet during the trip wasn't the perfect plant-based diet but it was really about getting as many calories as I could," he said after a group run Sunday. "For coming back and recovering, it's been nice to eat the kind of food I would normally do.

"On the trail, I wasn't eating as many salads and veggies because that takes more energy to process and not a lot of calories. It has a lot of vitamins. Being on the trail like that was unique. You can't always eat fibrous food and vegetables so it was really focused on calories. It was a little bit different but it focused on what my body needed at the time."

What he did eat ranged from the usual sports foods people typically eat when training and running half and full marathons but in between those, there were actual meals.

"I eat a lot of sports food so Clif Bars, Clif Blocks and gels and do the sports food but I also ate a lot of real food," he said. "When I was out there, lunch was on the trail as I was running and hiking. Breakfast was in the morning, I'd stop by my support van and grab things and take off and dinners at night were everything from pasta, tofu or Thai curry.

"I had a group bring out a vegan pizza and some avacado sushi rolls. So it was a mix of different type of food. It was a lot of fat because I was burning through the calories so much. I would douse my pasta with olive oil and things like that."

Jurek's book "Eat & Run" includes details about his growth in the sport, vegan recipes and focuses on the importance of food as a fuel.

This year, he's not attempting any huge records but he just wants to focus on having fun while running, speaking around the country and some smaller projects.

"I'm focused on writing another book so I'll be working on that and getting out and speaking," he said. "As far as big running project or race, this year won't be the year. I'm going to take a little time off after something like the Appalachian Trail. That just took a lot out of me so I'm trying to keep everything focused and keep my body balanced.

"I've got some fun little running trips that I have planned. I just want to have fun with running, pop in a few races here and there and just enjoy it."


Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily