Dean Karnazes - Running Icon and "UltraMarathon Man" is Inspiring (and Freaking Funny)

Dean Karnazes - Running Icon and "UltraMarathon Man" is Inspiring (and Freaking Funny)


49 - We have a real icon of the running world on today's podcast. Not only is he a New York Times bestseller, but he's one of the few runners who has been able to transcend the sport into mainstream media. We're talking Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien, Kelly and Regis, Ted Talks, and he even had his own segment on the Stan Lee's Super Human tv show.

That's because Dean is actually super human - having conquered the worlds toughest races including Western States, Badwater, Spartathlon, and even a trek to the South Pole. Dean has been a true ambassador of the sport - as you'll hear in this discussion - inspiring countless runners during his 50 marathon in 50 states is 50 days, running across the U.S. twice, running a marathon on every continent twice, and running the silk road as a special state department athlete ambassador.

And honestly - his story was really a catalyst that inspired me to get into this sport over a decade ago.

He details some of these incredible stories and his return to the gruelling Western States 100 mile ultra in his latest book - A Runner's High. It's an incredible read that details Dean's mental mindset in such vivid detail. It's such a fun book that goes far beyond the trail, and he tells stories that all runners can relate to.


Podcast Transcription

The following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.

Guest Quote

Dean Karnazes: [00:00:00]

When things get difficult, we tend to overthink, you know, we think about when's the next aid station, or how far do I have to go to the finish or we reflect on the past, but I don't do that. I just get in the here and now in the present moment of time and tell myself to just take my next step to the best of my ability.
Don't think about anything except the next step. Okay. Then take your next step then your next step. And it really takes some discipline thought because your mind tends to wander. And you know, our minds are such active places. And to fall, you pull yourself back to just the here and now it requires some discipline.
But if you can do that, you can get into some really deep water.   

Kevin Chang: [00:00:40]

Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 49.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator, the incomparable Bertrand Newson. ### Guest Intro [00:00:54]
Okay, RaceMob crew. We have a real icon of the running world on today's podcast. Not only is he a New York times bestseller, but he's one of the few runners who has actually transcended the sport into mainstream media. We're talking Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien Kelly and Regis. Ted talks and yes, he even had his own segment on Stanley's superhuman TV show.
That's because Dean is actually superhuman having conquered the world's toughest races, including Western states Badwater Spartz half-gallon and even attract to the south pole. Dean has been a true ambassador of the sport. As you'll hear in this discussion. Inspiring countless runners during his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.
Running across the U S twice. Running a marathon on every continent twice. And running the silk road as a special state department athlete ambassador. And honestly, his story was really a catalyst that has inspired me to get into the sport over a decade ago. He details some of these incredible stories and his return to the grueling Western states hundred mile ultra marathon in his latest book, a runner's high it's an incredible read that details. Dean's mental mindset in such vivid detail.
It's such a fun book that goes far beyond the trail and he tells stories that all runners can relate to.
You can find all of the show notes online at RaceMob dot com slash podcasts. and without further ado here's our

Start of the Interview [00:02:26]

All right, our next guest needs no introduction, truly an icon of the sports and such an inspiration for me and so many other athletes. He's also a bestselling author, please. Welcome to the podcast, Dean. Karnazes. Welcome, Dean.

Dean Karnazes: [00:02:42]

Thanks for having me on you guys. I'm glad we were able to make this work.

Kevin Chang: [00:02:46]

This is fantastic. So, I mean, I know that you have this legendary origin story for those of our audience. You can look this up, you can find this anywhere. It's probably floating all around the internet.

What I want to get into a little bit, Dean is how did you get discovered? I guess, you know, you're one of the only athletes that has kind of spans popularity, you know, being well known outside of our sport.
So, so how did you actually get discovered from there?

Dean Karnazes: [00:03:12]

You know, it's funny. Um, I started my journey into ultra marathon and when I, when I turned 30, so that was back. I don't want to say how old I am, but that was back in the early nineties. And, um, I discovered ultra marathoning that in the first year I ran an ultra in 1993, I think there were 3,500 ultra marathon finishers in North America.
And for comparison in 2019, there's something like 135,000. Well, the sport has grown tremendously, but I was one of the, kind of. The guys that hit the scene when the sport was becoming more visible. , , prior to that time it was pretty, , esoteric. It's your sport ultra marathoning. And right about the time I joined popularity and the mainstream recognition started growing.
So I kind of rode that wave if you will, but also do my storytelling in my books. I kind of made ultra marathoning approachable, to the average person, the idea of running 50 miles or, , a hundred kilometers or a hundred miles is outrageous.

Kevin Chang: [00:04:10]

It still is. Yeah, it still is to me, that's for sure, yeah.

Dean Karnazes: [00:04:14]

But, um, you know, I made it seem like, wow, you know, a regular guy can kind of go out there and do this. And I think that's kind of, , how , my name that circulated.

Kevin Chang: [00:04:23]

Was it from that initial book ultra marathon man, or when was the first time somebody like recognize you on the street?

Dean Karnazes: [00:04:29]

I think it was during, you know, my first book came out in 2005 and I think that really kind of started things off because obviously I've been running for about a decade prior to that. And I think people started reading about these things I was doing, you know, I ran a Western States in 1994, which is a a hundred mile foot race.
, and then I ran the Badwater ultra marathon after that, which was 135 miles. And I thought I could go further. So I, I was searching for races that were longer and all there were, uh, are these 200 mile relay race, these four person relay races. And I started signing up as just a team of one and, you know, running a team of one race.
So it was just kind of these crazy things that kind of broke through,    , to people's consciousness, like it's kind of ran a 12 person relay race solo. We ran all winter miles and I, you know, the word just spread kind of thing.   

Growing Up and Running

Bertrand Newson: [00:05:15]

Dean, have you always had that adventurous spirit of we going back to your youth, take us back to , growing up and was running on your radar at some point then.
And did you find yourself kind of going outside the box and pushing the limits at a young age?

Dean Karnazes: [00:05:29]

Yeah. And that's very perceptive Coach "B". I started running home from kindergarten when I was five years old. So running was very much part of my identity. I just remember sitting in class. You know, being told to sit still and pay attention and , no young boy at six or five wants to sit still and pay attention.
We want to, you know, not pay attention and go run wild. So I just remember the bell going off for a little, the end that would just run out of the classroom. And there were very few rules in my household when I was young, I was allowed to roam freely. It was, it was a different time, right? It was a different era.
Like, kids could roam freely and parents didn't have to worry about it. So I remember I was hiking the Grand Canyon when I was, well, I, uh, climbed Mount Whitney when I was 13. So I was constantly getting after these adventures, even from a young age.

Bertrand Newson: [00:06:17]

And then fast forwarding to adulthood and marriage and kids, and a nine to five or a nine to nine in some cases.
And when you reach a point as a working professional, how happy are we? What really speaks to us and for you to basically say, you know, corporate America, there's a higher calling for me. And to push that adventure envelope. I think it was right around, you could set your 30th birthday and kind of take us into that mindset where maybe enough was enough in, from a career perspective and changing and following your passion.
Because a lot of us all struggle with that. I mean, we know Kevin knows my story. We have had a little bit of that myself, but people can relate to being in that life cycle of, is this it, there must be more out there.

Dean Karnazes: [00:07:04]

No, you said it perfectly. , and , that kinda. Mindset came to an apex for me on my 30th birthday.
When I was in a bar in San Francisco, um, doing what most, most people do on their 30th birthday. You know, I was drinking with my buddies and, um, at midnight I told them I was leaving and they, they waited. They said, you know, let's have another round of tequila celebrate it. It's only midnight c'mon. And I said, no, instead I'm going to run 30 miles right now to celebrate.
And they looked at me and they said, what? You're not a runner, you're drunk. And I said, yeah, I haven't drunk, but I'm still going to do it. And I walked out of the bar and I knew that if I reached half moon Bay, it was 30 miles away. And I stumbled off into the night, you know, ran hobbled, uh, you know, for all to happen Bay and decided that next morning I was going to quit my job and become a runner.

Bertrand Newson: [00:07:50]

Well, that's amazing. And the rest is history. Those pages are still being written as well. No pun intended, so.

Kevin Chang: [00:07:56]

I love just how inspirational that story is. I mean, I remember hearing it when I first got into running    the story about Dean Karnazes.
The superhuman,    who was able to run, , 30 miles , in his first, , drunken nights, track stumbling out of a bar. It just inspired me to think, Oh, wow. What can I do? What is that untapped potential within me? . So I thank you for that story.
And I thank you for continuing to,    bring others into the fold and making it not just about yourself and your adventure, but also helping this community find themselves and their adventure.

Starting a Career as an Athlete [00:08:30]

Talk to us a little bit about: you decided to make running a career. How were you able to do that? You know, a lot of people find inspiration from, from what they do, but they're not able to actually    make a living out of it. So, I mean, talk to us    a little bit about that.   

Dean Karnazes: [00:08:43]

Yeah. Well, I mean, I, I very quickly realized that you're not going to make a living by just running ultra marathons. Like there's no ultra marathons, don't have a prize purse, at least they didn't man, you know, you got a nice belt buckle finishing, but that was about it.
So I thought, how can you sustain yourself in this kind of nascent industry. There really wasn't much of an ultra marathon in industry back then. And so I thought, okay, well, you know, let's maybe write another book, maybe, um, you can generate some revenue through book writing. So I wrote a couple more books.
I, you know, I started working with sponsors. I was a member of that, the North face. Athlete team before the North face was even into running. I mean, I kept trying to convince them that, Hey trail, running's a thing and it's going to grow and you just wait and everyone's going to want to be on the trails.
And the North face looked at me and said, no, no, no, well, we were big, heavy backpacks and fixable boots to hike on a trail. You know, who's going to run a trail and you know, so thankfully a new VP of marketing came in and he kind of bought into. The idea of running thing, especially on the trails and that kind of grew from there.
So through sponsorship, I also, because it was a form of business guy, I started doing a lot of like corporate keynotes and corporation bending and athletics that translate into business. So I started doing more corporate keynotes. And then it just kind of built on itself. I started getting invitations to,    attend, , race expos to do book signings and appearances and that kind of thing.
And I kind of built a little cottage industry and, , I kind of rode the wave about earlier, you know, like ultrasonic has become a thing, right. It's kind of like on the mainstream lexicon and certainly running has boomed    incredibly in the past decade, two decades. So it's been good for everyone.

50 Marathons in 50 States [00:10:22]

Kevin Chang: [00:10:22]

I think we know that North face kind of sponsored your initial 50 marathons 50 States. I know that we've taken a look at the documentary. There must be some good stories from, from that whole experience. Do you have any favorite stories from that adventure?

Dean Karnazes: [00:10:35]

How long has this interview
###### Kevin Chang: [00:10:38]
We can stay on as long as you want to stay on with us.

Dean Karnazes: [00:10:41]

Well, I mean, the Genesis of the 50 marathons in 50 States in 50 days was that the North face has an extra sham application process every year. So the athletes would submit their ideas for expeditions. And prior to me suggesting that, uh, an expedition could take place off the mountain side, all the North face expeditions were like, you know, scaling Everest, the North side, or, you know, climbing K2 or sledding to the South pole.
And I said, you know, adventure and expeditions can be, they can be urban. They don't have to be in these. You know, inhospitable, desolate places. And I said, for instance, I could, I could do 50 marathons in 50 States in 50 days. And, and they bought into it. They said, wow, that's the first time we've taken the next position off the mountain.
And it kind of makes sense. And so they got behind it and we said, okay, It's going to be expensive to do this. Cause there's a lot of logistics and, and so forth. So we might need to get other sponsors to come in. So I said, okay, well, what we'll do is we'll come up with a pitch deck and we'll go and meet with other sponsors and see if we can get them to help fund this thing.
Literally the first five sponsors we spoke to all said, yes, you know, it was like, Toyota. We met with Toyota motors. Oh, yes, we definitely it's just so cool to be part of it. You know, Timex watches. Oh my God. Yeah, we want it. We want it. Wow. You know, nature's path, the food company. Oh, of course. Yeah. We, all of a sudden we had all these sponsors and we thought, Oh geez.
Now we have to open this up to other people because we can't just be about one guy. Right. We've got to have other consumers as part of this that we got permits to run marathons in all 42 States. Were these quote unquote recreated marathons, because they were like on a weekday, you know, like showing up in Iowa on a Tuesday, you can't find a marathon to run that.
We contacted the race director and said, we, you set up your sanction certified course. And let us follow that from the start line to the finish. So we had a record of actually completing a legitimate marathon and that's how we did. Uh, the 42, um, marathons, the eight marathons were on the day of the actual marathon.
Like I ran Chicago marathon, you know, with 35,000 people. I ran Marine Corp, you know, with 35,000 people. And the final marathon was in New York city marathon. And there was, you know, 55,000 people. And I think, you know, maybe the story I'll leave with is that I wasn't sure what would happen. You know, going into this year, I thought I might be in the hospital after five marathons.
This might be a huge failure, but what inevitably happens is my body grew stronger over 50 days. And my last marathon was. The fastest, it was, um, uh, in three hours and 30 seconds. So basically the New York city marathon after, you know, 49 previous marathon. And I just think that speaks to the resiliency of the human body.

Bertrand Newson: [00:13:24]

That is amazing.

Kevin Chang: [00:13:25]

I love it. And for those of our audience who haven't gone and taken a look at the documentary, there's just some incredible stories throughout that whole adventure. I mean, you're running through torrential, downpours and, and headwinds that are unfathomable.

Interacting wqith the Community [00:13:39]

    And you talk a little bit about being an introvert by nature, but having this event that welcomes community, welcomed people out there, and it really helped change    your perception. And you just got to hear all these stories and, we're all about finding community, , and getting to meet other people on race day.
And so. Talk to us a little bit about,    meeting people, , throughout that whole adventure,

Dean Karnazes: [00:14:02]

it was a remarkable experience in that. I was so happy that the open it up to other runners where your sections as we ran through and we end, , we didn't have to set up, we had like a sag wagon.
They would hand things out the window. And so imagine, you know, 50 people, you know, a lot of them you've never met before all running together, very close in a pack for a marathon. We just had a great time. I mean, you, you know, JIPS developed and I heard so many great stories and I shared some stories and.

Stories and Tales [00:14:27]

Kevin Chang: [00:14:27] It was quite remarkable. I know that you've run across the country a couple of times, one of them, I think our good friend JT service here was crewing you. He mentioned that that was kind of his introduction into the sport. Any, any good stories?

And he get dirt on, on JT

Bertrand Newson: [00:14:42]

Who recently got married over this weekend? Yeah. .

Dean Karnazes: [00:14:46]

Yeah. Well, you know, he volunteered one time. Actually. I twisted his arm to prove for me at a race called the Badwater ultra marathon.

Kevin Chang: [00:14:53]


Dean Karnazes: [00:14:56]

135 mile, but race across death Valley in the middle of the summer.

Kevin Chang: [00:15:00]

Where your shoes might melt.
Right? I mean, I think you have a story where your soul, like, just literally melts off your shoe. Quite

Dean Karnazes: [00:15:06]

literally. Yeah. You run on the white line because the white lines will get cooler. So it does, you know, the asphalt gets up to 200 degrees, but JT was such a champion. So he, he came out and crude for me and it was kind of a, I've got another friend, Michelle Barton.
And she decided to group forming. She brought two of her girlfriends. So it was, um, the five of us, three women and JT and I, and the race went well, uh, for me until it, it didn't go well for me. And when I say didn't go well, I I'll never forget I was running. It was maybe two in the morning. And, you know, I was just, I was chafing so bad.
Any, anything that touched my skin was giving me it was shaping. Like it was one of those things where it's just so hot and so miserable that. It was inevitable. If you had any fabric touching your body, kind of rub you the wrong way. So I just finally said, JT, I, uh, I need to free myself. Like I I'm either going to DNF or I, I just need to like be free.
He's like, well, what exactly do you mean by... yeah, sorry, I'm going through this. Like, I can't have anything on and he's like, you're gonna, you're gonna nude up. And I'm like full Monty. He's like, you gotta keep your reflective vest on, otherwise you'll be disqualified. Brother. You're in. I'm in that we put on, we put our, we wrapped our, our trumps over our head, like swamis and we wore reflective vest and we ran naked through the desert and I'll never forget when the three women came upon us and the crew vehicles,
I have an even funnier story. We're running along. And so the girls finally accept that we're gonna, we're just running naked and they say, Hey, it's so funny. You're coming up on Charlie angle, your buddy really angles, a good friend of mine. And you can see it's the middle of the night. It's three in the morning, but there are two kind of dim headlights headlamps up the road.
So eventually we catch up and I say, JT, when we go by him, let's just pretend like nothing's going on. But we scroll by and I'm like, Hey Charlie, how's it going, man?
Charlie on that. Charlie who's Australian guy. It wasn't even some stranger.
I just mowed it off.

Running Naked Around the World

Kevin Chang: [00:17:35]

That is so fantastic. We also know you have this distinction for being able to run around the world naked too. You'll want to give a little preview of that.

Dean Karnazes: [00:17:45]

Well, I mean, so I ran a marathon to the South pole and you know, it was obviously cold at the South for like minus 45 degrees.
But when I finally finished the marathon, it was. Bizarre. There's actually a candy Stripe Barbara fall at the South pole, and it's got this stainless steel or on top of it be kind of reflective stainless steel or, and I'm staring at it. And a guy comes up to me, says, wow, that was amazing.
You ran a marathon in the South pole and you want to be the first guy to run around the world naked. Like uh Bob. I think you're spending too much time down here in South Pole. And he said, no, no, no. I'm an engineer. Think about it. If you run around that South Pole, you're circumnavigating the globe, just at the smallest circumference.
Yeah, you're right. You're absolutely right. I said, Bob it's minus 45 degrees out. And he just, he said, don't let any of your appendages touch that stainless steel.
Anything to touch that will stick.
Can we save these things?

Bertrand Newson: [00:18:53]

Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Raw uncut, no pun intended here. Right?

The Western States Race and DNF-eing

Kevin Chang: [00:19:06]

Well, I did want to get into the book, you know, it's just a fantastic read. So , give our audience a little bit of preview. You know, it talks about DNF-ing at Western States and you taking a large hiatus from it and then kind of coming back to it.
So you know why the return to Western States.

Dean Karnazes: [00:19:23]

Yeah. So, you know, the first hundred miler I ever did was Western States and that was back in 1994. And what I wrote about it in my first book, I mean, I love the race, you know, it just gets in your blood and I did it.
10 times since 1994 and got a, a thousand mile buckle. And I thought, wow, this is great. I'm like, you kind of did more than what you set out to do. That's fine. And then I, you know, and then I thought, well, maybe I'll try and 11 times, and I tried 11 time and it just. Something was wrong. The passion just wasn't there and I didn't finish.
And it was pretty horrible actually. And it wasn't that I physically wasn't capable. I was just, my spirit was broken. Like, it just seemed like something was missing. So I kind of walked away from Western States and didn't really have a desire to go back. You know, I knew it wasn't a Hollywood ending. I was hoping for kind of thing.
But then I got the bug again, uh, you know, almost a decade later, nine years later, like, Hey, you should, you should go back to Western. It's like, you owe it to yourself. That was the best race, you know, the best memories of your life. Let's go try to relive those. So I decided to go back to the Western States is, as you guys might know now it's not so easy to go back to the Western States these days.
You know, when I first did Western States in 1994, lottery odds were about 50 50. So you had about 50% chance of getting in, you know, nowadays it's harder to get into Western States and Harvard odds are lower, so it's crazy, but I got waitlisted, so I didn't get into the race, but I got placed on a waiting list and the waiting list is 50 people.
And I just thought it's so hard to get into Western States. There's no way. That anyone is going to give up their entry. I mean, it's just, you know, maybe one or two people will get injured, but I was number 23 on the list. I thought there's no way it's 23. People are going to give up their restroom. They work so hard to get in.
Well, it started looking like, Oh, I might get in. And this is with less than a month ago. And this was like three weeks ago. I'm thinking I better start training. Like I might actually get in. So I kind of talk about hacking my training by throwing myself into a hundred K with no, with basically no mileage on my legs whatsoever.
I said, okay, sign up for this 110, go do it. And that's where the book begins, you know, groveling and doing the death March to this hundred K and we all know what that feels like to be doing the death Mark, but, you know, really describing it in very visceral terms and kind of telling the story about what happened along the way.
And then getting into Western States and going back and how, you know, 25 years later, my parents were still calling for me, you know, but they're 25 years older, you know, they're in their late seventies and eighties now. And you know, my son decided he would improve for me as well. And he was a little kid, you know, when he, last year he was nine years old.
And now he's in his early twenties, you know, he's a college kid and he's going back and he has no idea what he's getting himself into. , I think it's something that any runner can relate to these stories. And so hopefully it's not, I mean, it is a book about me, but it, hopefully it's more our story than my story.
###### Kevin Chang: [00:22:19]
If you like our podcast and sign up for our newsletter, where we give you weekly tips on how to run your best race and have fun in the process. Just go to RaceMob.Com and sign up today.   
Yeah. I mean, it's incredibly relatable, you know, so many of us. Have gone away from the sport and are getting back into the sport and it tugs that, Hey, how do you get back into a sport that you love? How do you actually, you know, rekindle that fire that you may have had before, and then if it is rekindled, how do you actually get back into shape and into form and then
yeah. It's so visceral, like the way that you just describe all the hurdles, all the struggles, especially in that first hundred K race. And then, you know, just getting into Western States. And I think you just talk about like, Oh, the arm sleeves, you didn't have arm sleeves early on. And, and how much of a difference that makes in the entire race.
And so, yeah, I mean, I think we're right there with you. Step-by-step is just a fantastic read. You fly by it. It's it's such a quick read and the other portion of it that I just love is the conversations that you have. With your son and with your father and your son, Nick. I mean, I love the stories of like, Hey, he got into a marathon, he was looking to run a marathon.
And then just as soon as he got into the, the marathon spirit, he's just, you know, kind of jumps out of it. And it's so funny. I, I love these stories.

Dean Karnazes: [00:23:42]

Well, it goes beyond running, right. It's kind of, I mean, it's about running, but they're human interest stories. I mean, everyone, everyone's got a family. And, you know, no one runs in a vacuum, right?
I mean, when, when someone at the family starts running, you know, it, it creates tension and it can be, it can go either way, can either, you know, pull people together or it can smash relationship. The smithereens and I I'm sure you guys have seen relationships grow stronger when one partner got into running and just the opposite. Yes. Coach be nodding his head.

Bertrand Newson: [00:24:16]

I've been running for a long time. Running to or running from the question.

Mental Toughness [00:24:21]

Dean, maybe you can speak to as much as we're talking about the actual effort. Putting in the work, enjoying the journey. There's also one component where the mind moves the body and mental toughness and really getting to understand what your limits are and being able to push through and how to navigate when in the pain cave, and being able to embrace those moments of, you know, getting comfortable, being uncomfortable.
You have just mastered that so well. And if you can take our RaceMob community and greater audience, Too, you know, internally into your mind, as you get into those moments of darkness and how you still are able to kind of rally and keep pushing on.

Dean Karnazes: [00:24:59]

Yeah. I mean, I have a saying, you know, motion, stirs emotion.
So I think we're in a very heightened state of emotion when we're running an ultra and, you know, maybe it's. It's through experience, we learn, um, mostly bad experience. So, you know, we've all broken down during an old threat and typically are trying to do whatever we can keep going. And I just said, really look inward and pay attention when you hit that point, that wall, if you will, when you're in the pancake and see what's going through your mind.
Well, how are you responding? And what are you telling yourself? And try to articulate that, like fighting to put that on paper so other people can read it and relate to it. And to me, you know, when things get tough, I just turn inward, you know, there's a saying, uh, plan the race and race, the plan. I think that's.
When things get difficult, we tend to overthink, um, you know, we think about when's the next aid station, or how far do I have to go to the finish or we reflect on the past, but I don't do that. I just get in the here and now in the present moment of time and tell myself to just take my next step to the best of my ability.
Don't think about anything except the next step. Okay. Then take your next step then your next step. And it really takes some discipline thought because your mind tends to wander. And you know, our minds are such active places. And to fall, you pull yourself back to just the here and now it requires some discipline.
But if you can do that, you can get into some really deep water.

Bertrand Newson: [00:26:22]

The athletes that we work with in Coach, some of them are rediscovering their interact fleet later in life. And they may be getting into that pain cave or level of self doubt in the midst of a 5k or a 10 K or, you know, taking on the challenge of their very first half marathon or marathon.
So it is still relatable. As people we see you as Dean, the superhero, you know, you are on the Mount Rushmore of ultra running or running in general, um, worldwide, you are there. Um, but for you to articulate that you, you know, you put your pants on or shorts on one leg at a time that you also. Have those moments of where you have to really buckle down and make it literally about one foot in front of the other.
That is so relatable. And that's why you have so much appeal and inspires so many, because again, you enjoy life and moving forward, and most people are still trying to find out how to do that in their own way.

Dean Karnazes: [00:27:15]

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's been a journey and thank you very much for those soft, full time words that it has been a journey.
I mean, I talked about, um, reliably being able to finish in the top 10 at Western state, so I never had to enter the lottery. And that was the younger Dean now. The older Dame is slower, as well as the sport has changed. I mean, we all know that, um, with ultra-marathon specifically it's become much more elite.
I mean, younger guys are getting into it that are, you know, Olympic qualifying marathoners, and very well-trained collegiate runners. And, you know, they're, they're mashing records. So, you know, how do I show up for race deal, knowing that there's no possibility that you're going to win this race? And may not even finish and still embrace that and love that versus, you know, some friends I have that it just kind of burned out.
Like they can't handle that where I've kind of embraced it, embraced it. You're slower now embrace it. It's going to be a tougher struggle than it was before, but enjoy it. I mean, enjoy that, you know, that part of the journey you're on.

Kevin Chang: [00:28:14]

I love that. And you mentioned this in the book that running is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself.
Um, and that's kind of some of the discovery that you were also going through or, or helping others discover as well. And you guys

Dean Karnazes: [00:28:25]

are coaches. And so you're probably used to quantifying everything and having your, you know, your athlete quantify the runs and, you know, upload the data for you and this and that.
But you know, some days I would just encourage you. We'll have them be running this play. You know, if we can running this play and you enjoy it in its own, then it's magical, right? It's not, it's no longer work. It's no longer something that you have to do is that I've got to get in my training run today.
It's something you enjoy.

Bertrand Newson: [00:28:52]

One thing we, we talk about with our athletes, Dean is the best ability is availability. And you've been very fortunate throughout your career and just being assessable to be able to get out and run.

Recovery Tips [00:29:04]

Are there any recovery tips? That you can have for the everyday runner. And some of it is just genetics and you may have won the genetic lottery that way, but for some of us, um, you know, just getting up in the morning and, you know, getting through plantar fasciitis or it band syndrome or Achilles tendonitis, low back issues, things along those lines.
Um, what are some good principles pre-run post run, um, that you'd like to share with our audience?

Dean Karnazes: [00:29:29]

Yeah. I mean, they say the best thing you can do as long distance runner is to choose your parents. Well, who are you choose your parents, you know what I'm, you know, I've never, I've never had an injury, never had an overuse injury.
I mean, the worst has happened to me is I've lost toenail. So I don't, I can't speak from experience. You know, the one thing that I do is. I look at myself through the lens of trying to be the best animal I can be. And that involves training obviously involves cross-training to condition my overall physical fitness and my entire body.
Uh, it involves diet and nutrition. It involves sleep quality. And it also involves interpersonal relations. I think if we have harmonious interpersonal relationship, our performance is better and just the opposite is true. You have a lot of conflict in your life, maybe performance breaks down. So I try to optimize all of those things.
So that I'm the best version of deem that D D uh, you know, the other thing is. Yeah. You know, I, I'm a big proponent of active recovery, so you're going to have to a really big effort. I always go out the next day and run the hobble. If you will, it might just be two or three miles and slow, fast walking.
But I think that if you can move the next day after a marathon ultra marathon, I really helps accelerate recovery. And the final thing that you know, I never do is something I think you two are doing right now with sitting down. You can see them. I'm standing

Kevin Chang: [00:30:50]

I'm standing too..

Dean Karnazes: [00:30:54]

You know, my books while standing, I do all my emails and everything while standing up.

Training [00:30:59]

Kevin Chang: [00:30:59]

Yeah, that's incredible. And I've heard that you've written some of your books    while you're running, that you do a lot of voice memo, things    I've also heard you have this like high intensity interval training routine , that you do kind of throughout the day.
Can you walk our audience through. Some of that cross training.

Dean Karnazes: [00:31:14]

I mean, I, and I do quite a bit of my, my writing while I run, because I think you'll agree. We have some work, they were thoughts while we're running. So I just dictate into my phone now in that, in type those notes stuff when I get home.
But as far as cross-training, I have, um, it's hit training. So it's high intensity interval training and it's about a 12 to 14 minute routine of, um, body weight. So it's consistent pushups. Sit-ups. Pull-ups chaired the ups and somebody called burpees and everybody, whenever I say that word.
Learn to love that. Would you hate cause burpees are they, you know, they will return on fitness. Investment is amazing. So I do maybe five or six sets. Throughout the course of the day, like after this interview, I'll go and bang out a set, uh, set this morning, right out of bed. And that's how I getting cross screen.
Yeah. I don't compartmentalize my fitness. I don't stay like, okay. I've got to set aside an hour fitness and training. I just view life is training and training of life. It's just an ongoing process.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:18]

Yeah, I love that. And I think our audience can appreciate how important core work upper body work. Some of that stuff is to actually, , getting faster and, longevity as well.
And I think in the book, you also mentioned some hot yoga. Is that a practice that you're, you're still doing?

Dean Karnazes: [00:32:33]

Oh, I miss it. Yeah, I was doing, um, they call it, you know, beak, rum, yoga, or hot yoga. I was doing that several times a week. I, you know, with endemic, all the studios are shut down, so I certainly missed that.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:43]

Yeah. Yeah. Our last guest was a yoga instructor and we just talked about, , flexibility, pliability, , the importance of that, , in anybody's routine as well. So, , I love that you do that.

Dean Karnazes: [00:32:54]

Well, there's a saying, uh, yoga is good for running, but, um, running is not good for yoga.
We're stiff. I mean, we look at some of the other people in the class weren't runners. I mean, they were a lot more limber than I was.

Diet, Figs and Dates

Bertrand Newson: [00:33:07]

Dean, how are you like feeding the beast, do recall that you. During a endurance run. Uh, the primary food intake was dates, but you were back in Greece, you know, we know what dates cause they cause other things to move as well.

Dean Karnazes: [00:33:24]

Dates and yeah, no, I, uh, I tried to run the spar Tatooine, which is 153 mile foot race from Athens degrees, just using, you know, ancient Greek foods at the ancient, uh, foot messenger for deputies use. It was, it was dates. Uh, it was big. And, you know, I did a couple of like eight or 10 hour training runs with, with dates and bigs.
And it was fine, but 24 hours eating dates and big,
not advise it like my everyday diet. Now I say that, um, if I can't pick it from a tree or dig it from the earth, Or catchy with my hands. Uh, I don't need it. So I pretty much don't eat anything processed, refined, you know, nothing in a bag. You can't pick a piece of wheat from the field and stick it into your mouth and eat it.
You know, it's gotta be processed by a machine and made into bread or pasta or whatever. So I don't eat any of that. I had a mentor, this guy named Jack Lalaine that he told me, he said, Dean, if man makes it, don't eat it. And if it tastes good, spit it out.

Bertrand Newson: [00:34:31]

Sage advice. Yeah. Also on the Mount Rushmore of, uh, fitness, uh, icons, without a doubt,

Planning Events

Kevin Chang: [00:34:39]

I know that she used to run a lot of your races in Spartan outfits. Um, I know that a lot of our members have selfies and pictures with you. I think the first ever half marathon that I ran was the Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley half marathon down here, 2010.
And I remember you just being so nice and cordial on the course and being able to, come up to you say hi, say how much you meant to , my training,    , my whole fitness journey. Um, it just meant so much to me. I still have the shirt here, um, from that event.
Um, and I think my wife was not so pleased at that event. She signed up for the 5k and that event was on November 1st. And she was supposed to run it with one of our friends, but being on November 1st, he got too drunk on October 30 on Halloween night and he did not show up. He totally goes to them. Sure.
So it was her first and last ever 5k. She was sore for your entire week afterwards. You refuses to run . So. She might not be so happy with, with Dean Karnazes in that race, but I know that you're also involved with other races, , coming up. So you have, I think, a Golden Gates    trail events coming up.
So, , talk to us a little bit about how that event came about , and what it is.

Dean Karnazes: [00:35:49]

Yeah, well, you know, the, the event world has been just absolutely decimated during the pandemic, as you guys know. I mean, it's been really tough for , a lot of people, a lot of people in the band world. I mean, I mean, imagine what JTS gone through and, you know, , , I mean, we love our group run their group training runs.
And you know, when was the last time you went running with 20 or 30 on a timeline, just not happening, but in November we were able to get permits for a new race. Oh, the golden Gates are plastic. Wow. And you know, my vision is it starts in San Francisco. So in an urban setting, because there's a lot of buzz and fanfare, you know, when it starts in an urban setting like that.
Um, and then you run across the golden gate bridge and up into the Marine Headlands, which you guys know, or, you know, it's, it's mountainous, it's remote. And so you were in the middle of nowhere running around the trails and Marine, and then you finished by crossing the golden gate bridge and coming back into San Francisco.
So it would be. You know, band playing, , a big festival area, spectators, that kind of thing. And we have a 5k 10 K 50 K and a hundred K and I want the race to be very inclusive. So the cutoff time to bring the liberal, like for the a hundred K it's a 24 hour cutoff. So that it's approachable because a lot of these races.
They have like 16 or 17 hour cutoff times with a lot of vertical. And a lot of people are so intimidated. They'll never finish it, but they don't sign up. So this will be a race that has a lot of time, you know, you can, you can fast hike it. I want people of all ages and abilities come out and, you know, it's in San Francisco, we're about inclusion and that's what this race is about.

Bertrand Newson: [00:37:22]

Great, fantastic. Certainly we'll put it on our, our calendar with our uh, community

Kevin Chang: [00:37:27]

When is the event?

Dean Karnazes: [00:37:29]

It's the second week of November. And that was, that was the first week you get permits to actually do it. Yeah. And if the golden gate bridge is open for 24 hours to running across, which they've never done that before.
So some people would be crossing the golden gate bridge at two, three in the morning. Yeah,

Kevin Chang: [00:37:44]

that sounds incredible. I mean, Dean, I know if towards the end of your book, you also talk about    COVID, , you had all these plans for the year, different races that you were planning on running and    obviously COVID sidetracked a lot of that, but you still found as we talked about before, right? The joy in running and running, being worthwhile in and of itself.

Plans and Expectations [00:38:03]

So what has this last year been like for you? And are you training for anything going forward?

Dean Karnazes: [00:38:08]

Yeah, I mean, there's, there's a saying, uh, you want to make God laugh. Tell him about your plans.
So, uh, you know, obviously, um, my travel schedule has never been so inactive as it's been this past year, but, um, coming up, I am supposed to go to Greece in June while running 10 marathons in 10 days, uh, to celebrate the bicentennial of modern Greek independence. So it's all at historical sites in Greece.
And then in August, um, it's be scheduled to run across Australia. Wow. VMR. I used to live in Australia and, uh, it's an incredible place. And you're running across the Outback is another new experience. Yeah.

Kevin Chang: [00:38:49]

That is incredible. Yeah. Well, I mean, what is training been like?

Dean Karnazes: [00:38:53]

I, you know, I haven't been doing those kind of training blocks where I'm really ramping up for something I've just been running kind of intuitively some days that might be, you know, a fast five or six miles. You know, other like on some weekends I've just been putting on a hydration pack and heading out for like eight or 10 hours and just maybe watching the moon rise.
Just going, not even hearing how far or how fast I go, just getting lost up in the headlines of Morin and just wandering. And to me that there's something spiritual about that. And it's very cleansing, very rejuvenate.

Social Media

Kevin Chang: [00:39:24]

That's incredible. Where can people follow your ventures? I know that you have a very active Instagram account.
How can we follow along in your ventures in Greece and the Australian Outback? I mean, just

Dean Karnazes: [00:39:36]

Google being, someone told me if you put in deed and Google on the first thing that comes up, go to my web, it'll be on my website or obviously I've got. I'm on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and everywhere else.
So, yeah, I mean, it's pretty easy to find anyway, these days, isn't it.

Charities and Sponsors

Kevin Chang: [00:39:55]

Are there specific charities or sponsors for these upcoming events that you're doing?

Dean Karnazes: [00:40:00]

One is, , an organization in Greece. It's just called Ron Messenia that I support it's basically, um, youth fitness organization. And then the rent across Australia is for, , a mental health platform.
Obviously there's been a lot of, lot of people struggling with, um, mental health issues. So Australia in particular, there's a real problem with youth suicide. So we're trying to address that.

Kevin Chang: [00:40:23]

Oh, well, we know that your longstanding involvement with charities. I definitely remember. Carnivals kids. And, you really working hard to battle    childhood obesity and encourage activity , in our youth.

Dean Karnazes: [00:40:35]

Yeah, I mean, carnal kids were, were just basically like what they call a pass through organization. So you don't have actual programs. We support programs, um, like kids on trails as a program, we support, there's an organization of girls on the run that I used to be on the, on the board out there too.
It's a fantastic organization, you know, teaches, uh, comradery and self-esteem to largely at risk inner city, youth world. And it's a really powerful platform. So yeah, we're, we're still doing everything we can, if it means more to me than anything else.

Bertrand Newson: [00:41:04]

Kevin said he, he met you in 2010. I met you in 20. 14, uh, SF marathon. And I think I was, the wheels are starting to wobble for me, probably like miles 17, 18. And you just come prancing along a small group with you ton of energy. And then you said, Oh yes, I ran from home. So North of the group, Ran the reverse course.
And th you were, uh, actually running the, the, the live race. Um, and then going, running back home from there, I'm like, dude, you deal with complaints, suck it up upper lip and keep it moving. You know, don't change a thing. You know, you're making this world a better place by your example, and impacting more people than, you know, so

Dean Karnazes: [00:41:47]

I appreciate it. Thank you. And same to you guys. You're you're doing God's work. So keep changing the world.

Kevin Chang: [00:41:53]

Dean, I mean, we just wanted to say thank you so much for joining us on this podcast.
You know, if there's anything that we can do to, to help you in your journey, this has just been such a fantastic experience for us. And I'm sure our audience is going to take so much out of this. So thank you so much, Dean.

Dean Karnazes: [00:42:08]

Thanks for having me run by. You guys are fun. That was really fun. I hope. Yeah.

Kevin Chang: [00:42:14]

Yeah, absolutely.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at RaceMob dot com. Please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time.
Keep on moving.