Icon Dean Karnazes on the Future of Ultras, His Competitive Drive, and His Advice to You

Ultramarathons are a great feat in and of themselves. Running a distance substantially over a marathon in length, often on difficult terrain, removed from the continuous cheer of supporters is not your average race.

Some succeed, completing the race, occasionally even setting a course record. And some, like myself, don’t. Yet all who dare to dream so big and show up at the start line are winners. The commitment, the training, and the audacity to try is what matters.

If you’ve ever done a city marathon, half, or a 10K, you’ve felt the camaraderie with all the people – runners or spectators – surrounding you. In the thrill of it all, you were likely more focused on pace than wondering if you’d finish at all.

An ultra is different.

Pace gets thrown out quickly, as you hike the uphills and carefully navigate your way through river crossings. Finishing isn’t taken for granted. It’s likely that you signed up for an ultramarathon precisely to give yourself a new kind of challenge.

The allure of the ultra distance is real. Can I do this? How will I keep going? Where am I? Why am I here?

My first glimpse into the ultra world came through Dean Karnazes’ book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. It gave me a romanticized version of running that kept my in the sport all these years later.

That’s why I’m thrilled to finally have a chance to talk with Dean himself and bring the conversation to the Strength Running community.

Dean Karnazes Lives the Ultra Life

Dean Karnazes is an ultra endurance athlete who is highly regarded well beyond the world of running. He was named by TIME magazine as one of the most 100 influential people in the world, he is an ESPN ESPY winner, a three-time winner of Competitor Magazine’s Endurance Sports Athlete of the Year award, and recipient of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition lifetime achievement award. 

Dean has a long list of impressive accomplishments, best told through his own narrative in the Ultramarathon Man. A short summary of his endeavors includes:

  • Running 350 miles in one go
  • Doing a marathon at the South Pole
  • Completing 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days
  • Winning the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley

He has also written a new book, A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion, where he takes readers on a running journey through his eyes.

The More Runners the Better

In today’s conversation, we cover many topics includes the beginnings and future of ultras, how Dean manages to stay injury free (hint: strength training), and the wisdom he has gathered through years of epic runs.

Dean also shares the beauty that he sees in running and about the race that he is involved with, the Golden Gate Trail Classic. I appreciate Dean’s humbleness and sincere desire to get more people enjoying the sport.

Feeling inspired? If you are thinking of dabbling in the sport of ultra yourself, Dean has a suggestion for you:

This episode was a thrill for me and I hope you got that sense of excitement as well. To hear the full conversation between Dean and I, click the link below.

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Links & Resources from the Show:

You can also watch a clip of the podcast below:

Listen to the full conversation on Episode 191 of the Strength Running Podcast!

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