Ultramarathon Man: Pushing Through Pain To Find Purpose with Dean Karnazes

You might want to be standing for today’s episode of Lift U Up: Inspiring Health Stories. Why? Because our guest Dean Karnazes spends most of his life doing just that! Not only does Dean stand for almost his entire day, but he’s accomplished a lot more. The author is best known for being an ultramarathon runner, inspirational speaker, and was voted Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world. In today’s episode, Dean shares with us the turning point that took him from a “non-runner” to running 100 miles at a time, and more. 

A Slow Start

Dean Karnazes cites that his first introduction to running was at a young age, when he would run home from kindergarten for fun. He enjoyed running from an early age because it let him see the world and experience the seasons changing. This interest in running led Dean to joining the running teams in school, winning the cross-country championship as a freshman in high school. It wasn’t long, however, until teenage Dean got bored of running, and quit the team to pursue other interests. He went on to pursue a career in marketing, earning three degrees and building a successful corporate life for himself. 

The Turning Point

On the day of Dean’s 30th birthday, everything changed for him. Out celebrating a life that should have brought him happiness, Dean realized that maybe all the “nice” things he earned for himself in life weren’t the ticket to a happy one. Mid-celebration with friends, Dean changed his mind on how to ring in this new decade. He was going to run 30 miles instead, despite not running since high school. Just like that, he walked out of the bar at midnight and ran 30 miles to a nearby town. To Dean, it felt right.

This run gave Dean time to think about what happiness really could be for him, if not this corporate life he has built. 

“Life is short,” Dean shares, “You have to live it.”

A Fresh Start

After his 30th birthday, Dean never stopped running. Each day after, he started by running 3-5 miles. Once out on a run, he overheard two fit runners training, finding out they were training for something he had never heard of before – a 50 mile race. Something in Dean told him he needed to try, otherwise he would always wonder if he really could pull it off. Dean joined and competed in the race, and admits, at the time, it was the toughest thing he had ever done. 

But when he found out he qualified for a 100-mile run, his ultramarathon journey began. Though incredibly difficult, Dean is adamant about the physical and emotional impacts of long distance running. He learned grittiness, perseverance, and discipline. Today Dean takes the lessons he’s learned to inspire others, runners or not, to embrace the adventure that is life. He’s authored five books, ran in all seven continents, and motivates the world to challenge themselves. 

What else can you expect in this episode?

  • What 9+ hours of running straight does to your mind and body. 
  • How Dean’s book appealed to people who weren’t marathon runners, and why that was a pleasant surprise. 
  • Dean’s tips for getting started with running.
  • The story of when Dean ran through the White House.

Where to find Dean Karnazes: