Q+A with Scott Jurek

The storied ultrarunner and devoted dad talks about how he fuels on a plant-based diet.
Scott Jurek is an American ultramarathoner, author and public speaker. Throughout his running career, Jurek was one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners in the world, winning the Hardrock Hundred, the Badwater Ultramarathon, the Spartathlon and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

Running on plants

You’ve been plant-based since 1997. How has your diet changed and evolved since then?

I’ve dabbled in different forms of plant-based eating. In the early 2000s, for example, I tried a raw diet. The way I describe it now is I try to keep it as “whole foods” as possible. My main things are minimizing oils and sweeteners and keeping my diet as clean as possible.

There’s such a wide range of plant-based diets; you don’t have to keep it so rigid and strict. If you want to eat vegan junk food sometimes, that’s OK. Plant-based eating is all about inclusion.

I became vegan in northern Minnesota in the late ‘90s, so I had to learn how to make everything from scratch. Now it’s become more mainstream to have more access to plant-based foods, and that’s a good thing.

Regarding food and eating, how do you prepare for an ultrarun?

When I’m doing a race or a long training run, food is something that’s part of the plan much like the training.

You can imagine going out to the mountains for six to eight hours; there are no water fountains, no grocery stores. When I go out for training runs, I need to have everything on me, from my energy gels, my sports drinks, my sports bars and real food. That’s where it’s fun to incorporate a JUST Egg wrap.

There are times when I need to have dense calories when I’m going out day after day after day. Getting enough calories is critical otherwise you just start ripping through your muscles. Every half hour in those times, I’m eating something.

Before you start a big run, how do you prepare physically? Is there a certain routine you follow?

It’s physically demanding, and some of the biggest things I do are back-to-back runs with 20 to 30 miles. That’s to replicate what I'll encounter on a race at mile 80. When you're running a 100-mile race, you just can’t do an 80-mile training.

It’s all about building up that muscle-fatigue resistance. The biggest thing, honestly, is the mental component. I hurt and have frustrations, my brain tells me it’s too hot, too far just like everyone else. You’ve got to train your brain to stay in the right place mentally, too.

The Beast Mode Burrito, one of two of Scott Jurek’s powerhouse plant-based creations

How do you balance being a parent and an ultrarunner?

For most of my peak racing years, I didn’t have kids, so it’s changed things a bit in terms of where I am now. Now, I dedicate more time to family. That’s important for people to hear.

I can’t train for six to eight hours every day now. Sometimes, with kids, it might mean getting the running stroller on errands. Time is the biggest factor now, juggling all the commitments you have throughout the day.

There are times when I need to grab things quickly. Having a product like JUST Egg Folded and being able to pop it in the toaster has been really helpful for a busy parent like me. My children are growing up plant-based, and I never want them to feel like they can’t eat like everyone else. JUST Egg keeps all those foods in their repertoire.

What makes JUST Egg a staple in your kitchen?

It brings me back to childhood recipes, cooking with my late mother, my grandmas and my aunts. My mom was a home economics teacher, so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen.

We were a very meat and potatoes kind of family. JUST Egg brings me back to that. It’s kind of fun now having those memories when I was a kid and now making pancakes with my own kids. It ties in with the thought of “What does food mean from a social standpoint with family and sharing a meal?” I think sometimes with a plant-based diet we can feel left out. JUST Egg brings us back to that bond with one another.

What are some of your favorite recipes that you’ve developed with JUST Egg?

I grew up eating a lot of fast-food breakfast, so that sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich was a big piece for me.

My wife is Japanese-American, so we make a lot of handrolls with an omelette-style egg in the middle. I used to do a lot of tofu scrambles, but tofu scrambles just aren’t the same.

How has JUST Egg changed the way you cook?

JUST Egg has allowed me to experiment more with family recipes. My great grandmother came from Sweden, and she had this recipe for Swedish pancakes we were able to make together using JUST Egg.

I always had to tweak recipes to make them egg-light or without eggs, which was hard sometimes. That’s where JUST Egg comes in; it allows people to have this familiar consistency, taste and bake with it and go through those chemical reactions that you have with eggs that no other product really replicates.

That’s sometimes the problem with plant-based diets. People will say, “Oh, this isn’t eggs” or “This isn’t meat.” People just really want those soul-satisfying foods they grew up with, and JUST Egg is great for that.