There is a line in Marshall Ulrich’s book in which he, unflatteringly, describes himself as a tank. Or rather he admits to having a tank-like build. You don’t really expect this as ultrarunners are famed for their svelte, slight builds and their often quiet, introspective manner. This book is neither of these things.
Like the monumentally epic challenge that Ulrich describes, the narrative is forceful and brash. He is brutally honest throughout about his shortcomings and he admits to the painful compromises that he has had to make along the way to becoming one of the most respected ultrarunners ever. But here, in Running on Empty, such honesty does not really translate into a narrative of psychological interest. This is a shame. I am far more interested in his thoughts rather than the food that he ate along the way. Although I have nothing but admiration for his attitude and guts, the prose did leave me a little empty.