This is not to take away from Jurek's accomplishments, because I believe that he's had some rough things happen in his personal life, he's one of the best ultra-marathoners ever, and from all accounts, he's a very nice and humble person. As a vegan, I think it's great that he's one too. I just can't read this much self-help style pseudo-science without rolling my eyes. Again, Scott Jurek's story of overcoming adversity and becoming a champion is amazing. He won Western States seven times in a row, for crying out loud. I just didn't think the book was written very well, that's all. If you're less of a cynic than me and you like vegetables and running, you might very well love it.
For an interesting take on the science of plant-based diets and sports competition, see this NYT piece.
I think this quote is pretty sensible:
In general, vegetarians are healthier, with less risk for heart disease and obesity, although there are obese vegetarians. Many people tell me after they start a vegetarian diet that they feel better, but then again, many of them — and I believe this was the case with Scott Jurek — were eating a pretty poor diet before, so of course they feel better. They could have switched to a healthier meat-based diet and they would probably have felt better.
One interesting side note: Jurek is quite a competitor. It should have been obvious that to win that many races, you have to actually care about winning, per se, but I guess I sort of imagined him as ignoring other people and racing against himself. Jurek does stuff to psych out his competition, like turning off his headlamp to sneak up on people, or pass them and not look back to demoralize them. This is totally standard fare at the front of every race of any distance, it was just interesting and surprising to me since I don't care very much about beating other people. Mostly when I see other runners on the course I'm hoping we'll strike up a conversation and I'll make a new friend.