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Ultra Marathoner Dean Karnazes On How To Beat Your Mind

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“If you can turn off the noise, you can get through anything.”
— Dean Karnazes

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today we are honored to have with us Dean Karnazes. He's a speaker, a bestselling author, an athlete, and an entrepreneur. TIME Magazine named him one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. Why, you ask? Because he is an ultra marathoner… not just any ultra marathon, by the way: he has run three hundred and fifty CONTINUOUS miles… not going sleep for three nights. He's run the Sahara Desert at 120 degrees. He has run 50 marathons in 50 days. He's biked for 24 hours straight. He swam San Francisco Bay…

I could just go on basically and spend the entire episode talking about all the insane feats of endurance and athleticism that Dean has done. But I won't because I want you guys to hear from him. In any case he's been on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, Late Night Show, CBS, ESPN, CNN… basically all the networks! Again, I could spend the entire episode.

I wanted to get Dean on the show for very obvious reasons. He is literally a superhuman. He has a lot of very interesting things to say about tenacity and about fitness. About training… well, he has some things to say that will surprise you. Some things to say that definitely will NOT surprise you. And in general we just hit it off and had a really great conversation.

I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

This episode is brought to you by my premium online training – The Become a SuperLearner Master Class. To learn more or check out a FREE trial with no credit card required, simply click the banner above!

This episode is brought to you by Organifi. Save 20% on their highly-recommended green juice products with coupon code “superhuman.”


In this episode, we discuss:

  • Who is Dean Karnazes, and what makes him SuperHuman [05:30]
  • What is an ultra-marathon? What differentiates it from a regular marathon? [06:00]
  • What motivates Dean Karnazes to do these incredible feats of endurance [06:40]
  • HOW the heck does Dean do what he does, running for days without sleep? [7:35]
  • What is the secret to Dean's incredible endurance and mental toughness? [08:35]
  • What is Dean's diet, and how has it changed throughout the years? [10:30]
  • How the heck does Dean Karnazes get 20-30K calories on a Paleo diet? [11:45]
  • What does it mean to be on a “fat adapted” diet? [12:30]
  • Does Dean have any genetic advantages? Can anyone do what he does? [13:00]
  • How did Dean get to the right biomechanics for ultra-marathoning? [14:45]
  • A discussion of running shoes and whether or not they're good for us [15:00]
  • Has Dean ever had any injuries or issues from his sport? [16:40]
  • A discussion of sitting and the benefits of standing desks
  • An interesting routine of HIIT exercises that Dean does throughout the day – and why [17:30]
  • A discussion of intermittent fasting and it's many benefits [18:30]
  • Does Dean Karnazes actually run on ketones? Or does he need carbs? [20:30]
  • What are some of Dean's top health and productivity hacks? [21:00]
  • What does Dean do all that time he's running? [22:15]
  • Which books have changed Dean Karnazes' life? [22:20]
  • A funny story about Dean's relationship with Tim Ferriss [23:30]
  • Which of Dean's books should you start with? [24:30]
  • What's Dean's NEW book about, and what did he learn while writing it? [25:30]
  • Where can you reach out and learn more about Dean Karnazes? [28:00]
  • What's the #1 biggest takeaway from this episode? [29:50]

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:


Favorite Quotes from Dean Karnazes:

“Why is not an easy question to answer…”
“There's something profoundly powerful about running.”
“There's no tricks to running 100 miles… It just comes down to grunt work, and how much do you want it.”
“Sitting is poison… it's toxic.”
“It's better not to eat than to eat something bad.”
“Listen to everyone, follow no one.”
“One thing that I've really learned is to protect my time and protect my attention. It's so easy to get distracted these days…”


Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: This episode is brought to you by Organifi. You guys, one of the only things that every nutritional expert that we've had on the show seems to actually agree on is that we all need to eat more vegetables, eat more greens, eat organic, cut out all the processed junk. Well, who has the time, right? Who has the time to go out, do the shopping, make the salads, make the juices, make the smoothies?

And that's what I love so much about Organifi, their product is an all-organic green juice. It has all of the nutrients that you need, it tastes absolutely amazing. And it's made by wonderful people who I consider to be personal friends. And as listeners of this show, you guys can actually save 20% on your first order. And all you have to do is go to That's O R G A N I F and use the coupon code SuperHuman at checkout.

This episode is brought to you by Become a SuperLearner, The Masterclass. You guys, if you have ever wanted to learn things faster, to read faster and waste, less time reading, boring textbooks. If you've ever wanted to have near-perfect memory for names, numbers.

Anything you want to learn and expand your mind and retain information in a way that you never thought possible? Well, then the Become a Superlearner Masterclass is exactly what you've been looking for. It's a 10-week program developed by myself and my mentors alongside some of the world's best memory experts and world-record-holding memory champions.

It'll take you from zero to super learning hero in just a matter of 10 weeks in about. 30 minutes a day or less. Now you can go ahead and sign up for a free trial with no credit card required. All you have to do is go to and if you choose to pick up the full course, you will also get an incredible discount for listeners of this podcast only. So please make sure to check it out and support the show and on to today's episode.

Greetings, super friends and welcome to this week's episode, which is lovingly provided to you, thanks to a review from Rebecca Dobs of the US of A who says great podcasts, super inspiring five stars. I got hooked on this podcast when they had Danielle LaPorte on and I've listened to every episode, since broad topics, practical tips I learned and apply something from every episode I have to admit. I don't think we've had Danielle LaPorte on the show. I'll have to double-check, but I'm pretty sure we haven't. So that might've been another show, but nonetheless, I'm still honored and pleased that you're enjoying the show, Rebecca, and we'll be happy to bring you guys more episodes if you guys just leave some reviews because we are running out of reviews.

In fact, that was the last one I have. Fortunately, I've recorded a couple of episodes already, but if you guys want more episodes, leave more reviews on to today's episode. Thank you, Rebecca. Today we are honored to have with us Dean Karnazes, he's a speaker, a best-selling author, an athlete, and an entrepreneur, and time magazine named him one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.

Why do you ask? Because he has an ultramarathoner, not just any ultra marathoner, by the way, he has run 350 continuous miles forgoing sleep for three nights, he's run the Sahara desert at 120 degrees. He has run 50 marathons in 50 days, he's biked for 24 hours straight he's swam San Francisco Bay. I could just go on basically and spend the entire episode talking about all the insane feats of endurance and athleticism that Dean has done.

But I won't because I want you guys to hear from him in any case he's been on the today show 60 minutes late-night show CBS, ESPN, CNN, basically all the networks, all the networks. I have a list here. Again, I could spend the entire episode. I wanted to get them in on the show for very obvious reasons. He is literally a Superhuman.

He has a lot of very interesting things to say about tenacity, about fitness, about training. He has some things to say that will surprise you. Some things to say that definitely will not surprise you. And in general, we just headed off and had a really great conversation. So I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it without any further ado.

My new SuperFriend. Mr. Dean. Karnazes

Mr. Dean Karnazes. Welcome to the show. I have to admit, I saw you years and years ago on Stanley SuperHuman, and I've been dying to ask you some questions. So I'm really excited about it.

Dean Karnazes: It was all made up, but yeah, let's do it.

Jonathan Levi: So Dean for those who maybe don't know about you, I tried to describe it a little bit in the intro, but you've got a lot to cover. I want to hear how you would describe yourself and what you do.

Dean Karnazes: You know, what I do is I'm described as an ultra-marathoner. And what does an ultra-marathoner do? Well, an ultramarathoner runs beyond marathon. So ultra the prefix ultra and Latin means beyond. And an ultra marathon is anything beyond a marathon.

A marathon is roughly 26 miles or 42 kilometers. So anything that goes past that is considered an ultra marathon, I need foot races, sometimes lasting, you know, two or three days without sleep and just running.

Jonathan Levi: And to this day, what's the longest race that you've run?

Dean Karnazes: Well, you know, in one continuous push without sleep, I've run 350 miles, but I've also done other things like I've, I've run from Los Angeles to New York City, which was, you know, in 75 days, um, running about 40 to 50 miles a day.

So that was over 3000 miles, but that was, you know, over 75 days and that one single. So I slept at night, once in a while,

Jonathan Levi: I feel like we could use the entire interview on just two questions. Why and how? And I think the first question is probably a shorter one. So I'm going to ask why, how did you get into this? What motivates someone to do such extreme feats?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. Well, you know, why is not an easy question to answer and I've written four books. Now I'm trying to answer, why does anyone write and why do we seek pain and seek adversity and seek these sort of challenges when we don't have to? I don't know. There's something profoundly powerful about running.

I mean, it's just, it's such a simple act, right? You're just putting one foot in front of the other. But there's great power in it somehow. And I think, um, the mastery of my mind and body kind of the self-discipline to will myself through situations where I want to quit. I think that challenge is something that really compels me and just seeing how far I can push the limits of human endurance is kind of a curiosity as well.

So that perhaps addresses the why the, how do you do it? You know, you, you run a lot and you train a lot and you dedicate, you know, you got to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly, um, to what you're doing and committed and sacrifice. I'll never forget, the first time I heard about someone running a hundred miles or, you know, 160 kilometers, you know, I said, wow, that's crazy.

A human can't do that. So, you know, how many days does it take? You know, where are the hotels are, you know, the campsites along the way. And this gentleman just looked at me kind of you know, curiously and said, no, the starting gun goes off and you run and you try to reach the hundred-mile mark within 24 hours.

And I, I just, I couldn't get my head around it. I said, what do you mean 24? Like, you know, where do you sleep? And he said, they kind of looked at me. He was like, sleep. I mean, you just put it on a headlamp and you just keep running. And I sit straight through the night and he said, yes, So I just was, I thought I've got to try this. It seems impossible. And maybe I can do the impossible.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. This blows my mind so much. And I have to say I've asked many different athletes in the history of the show. I've asked them this question and I've never been able to get a really clear answer on it. And I feel like you're going to have a clear answer, which is what's going on in your head that allows you to push through because I imagine this is not a pleasant experience for you, and you're going through an amount of pain, hunger, exhaustion that most people will likely, never feel in their lives. And I want to understand what gives you the capability to push through, you know, in between your ears?

Dean Karnazes: I think that it's to turn off what's in between my ears. I think if you can turn off the noise. You can get through anything. And how do you do that? To me? I get very granular. I just focus on the here and now. So I blank out everything in my mind. It's almost like a meditative state. So I don't think about the future.

I don't think about how far I've got to go to the finish line. I don't reflect on the past. I try to quiet my mind, which is not easy as you know, and I do that by just focusing on my next footstep. And my next footstep and my next footstep, I might have 10, 20 hours to go another hundred miles to go. But I don't think about that.

I really put myself in the here and now in the moment, just being the best that I can. And that very footstep and it's crazy, but if you can get yourself there, I mean, I can do this for eight hours and get through things that people say, wow, that was just amazing. You didn't eat, you know, you didn't stop. How are you able to do that? And I think that's really what happens.

Jonathan Levi: That's absolutely incredible. And I think it's interesting the parallels between meditation and just taking yourself outside of the the future when you're going to be resting or the past when you weren't running and just absolutely incredible.

I do want to ask, you must have, in addition to, a very strict training regimen, you must have a very specific diet that you follow that allows you to do these extreme feats.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, well, I will, I'll preface that by saying, you know, my diet has changed a lot over the years. I'll never live down the story of one time I was running a, a 200-mile race and I was out in the middle of nowhere by myself and this backcountry road but I had a credit card in a cell phone in my pack. So I ordered a pizza. And had them deliver it, deliver to me on the roadside. And so I used to eat a lot of junk, but I just thought, you know, you, some of these adventures you're burning 20, 30 calories in over the course of two days, 20 to 30,000 calories, just eat whatever you can to replace those and that's changed a lot. I've now really cleaned up my diet if you will. So I've gone to a paleo. I mean, you're familiar with the paleo diet. So somewhat of a paleo diet only, also very raw. So, you know, if you can't pick it from a tree, dig it from the earth, you know, catch it with your hands or catch it with a hook.

I really don't eat it. I might've mentor this guy named Jack Lalaine. I was one of the original, you know, fitness, you know, the weight guys from like, uh, Venice beach. And he told me, he said, you know, Dean, if man makes it don't eat it and if it tastes good, spit it out. I'm like, okay, that's good advice. I like this guy.

Jonathan Levi: Wow, I'm dying to know how do you get that quantity of calories on a paleo diet, or are you just like dousing everything in olive oil and E or how is that working?

Dean Karnazes: No, you're absolutely right. It's it shifting the calories to more fat calories. So things like nut butter, avocado, olive oil, certainly coconut oil.

And these are, you know, as you probably know, you know, fats have nine calories per gram where carbohydrates and protein just have four calories. So that is over twice as much, if you know, fuel in the same amount of space if you will. And what happens, what I've done is I've shifted my diet to I'm using more fats as fuels.

So it's called the fat-adapted diet. It's the state of ketosis if you will. And I've trained my body to use fats as fuel very efficiently versus carbohydrate, because you only have a certain amount of carbohydrates stored in your muscle glycogen, and you can only replace it, you know, through consumption at a rate that won't keep up with the deficit you're creating.

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. Now you mentioned when I mentioned the, uh, Stanley superhuman, I don't know if you're joking or serious, but you mentioned, you know, it was all made up. And I remember that they did all kinds of tests on you and tested your blood and, and found that you had certain biomarkers that were just absolutely exceptional.

And I think probably people in the audience are saying to themselves with this guy superhuman and you know, like Michael Phelps has longer arms, this guy has some genetic advantage. Would you say that that's true or would you encourage anyone that, you know, you can develop this superhuman capacity?

Dean Karnazes: I think very much the latter. I think anyone can do what I'm doing. I really believe that. And, you know, other endurance athletes have similar, not quite as pronounced, but similar physiological responses or adaptations to training that I have. So I really believe if someone really wants to do what I do, they can do it, but they've got to want it.

And that means they've got to be passionate about it, which means they've got to train as hard as I used to train. You know, they've really got to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly. There's no shortcuts to doing this stuff. And you know, if you don't love it, if you're not passionate about it, you can just you'll burn out. You won't be able to keep it up. So, you know, I, I always say that, um, listen to everyone, follow no one. I really believe anyone could do what I'm doing, but you just, you know, you gotta pay the dues.

Jonathan Levi: I love that. I really love that. Especially, you know, as a teacher and teaching something that doesn't come easily, although probably a lot easier to learn memory and speed reading techniques than it is to run a hundred miles. But I love that message of, you know, you really have to do the work and if you're not willing to do the work, it's probably because you don't want the end goal nearly enough.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, no, I agree though. I mean, there's little things you can do, but there's no tricks to running a hundred mile. There's no techniques.

I mean, you talked about techniques, you can learn to improve things. I mean, it just comes down to grunt work. And how badly do you want it? It's not very cerebral in that regard.

Jonathan Levi: Right. I also remember, you know, the memory, the memory guy in me remembers that watching you run you're conserving energy in a very smart way, but besides that it's, as you said, putting one foot in front of the other, but you're not lifting your feet up as much as, as you would expect a runner to and you're not kind of like taking these big gallon leaps, is that correct?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, but these are not things that I consciously said, okay? Let's change this. Let's shift this. I mean, your body finds what's most efficient and thankfully I have good biomechanics, my alignment, my running structure is very good. So I let my body just naturally find that kind of rhythm and that gate that is most efficient. And I think most people, if they're not over coached, they'll do the same for themselves. You know, we used to build footwear that kind of corrected these anomalies and people's gates, you know, we said, Oh wow, you're a super Nader. Or you're a pronator.

Let's, you know, let's build this fancy shoe with all this medial posting in there to control this thing. And it created a lot of injuries. And now the thinking is, you know, people have these awkward messes in their gait because their alignment's not perfect. And this is their body's way of compensating for that to prevent injury.

So I think that's the latest kind of thinking on that matter.

Jonathan Levi: That's really interesting. I've experienced that in my own life where I have one muscle in my back that just always spasms. And it's because in certain movements, you know, I figured out after years of wondering why it was this one muscle and I figured out is because my shoulder was dislocated during birth. And so one side is trying to protect the other side from being dislocated again. And I could feel the looseness and the joint, fascinating how the body compensates without you even knowing.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. I mean, that's a bit more than what I had gone through, but yeah to your point. Yes, very much so.

Jonathan Levi: Well, let me ask this. I think a lot of us probably wonder, you know, you hear these days about even young kids having injuries from running and it's because, you know, we're sitting all day and we're not healthy and we're not using our muscles the way that we should, have you had any injuries or were down to joints or anything like that?

Dean Karnazes: You know, knock on wood or, you know, knock on the side of my head. I've never had a running-related injury. I overused injury or otherwise, but I will back up a bit and kind of go over the preface that you used in that question, you know, saying we're all sitting so much these days. I don't know about you, but I'm not sitting ever, ever.

So we're both standing up and I mean, I've had a standing desk for probably the past 15 years, so I never sit down. I mean, sitting is poison. I think it's toxic. I also do sets of pull-ups and push-ups and sit-ups and dips and burpees throughout the course of the day. So I've got this routine of hit training, that, you know, I did a quick routine before we started the interview and right afterward, we'll do the same. It's about 10 to 12 minutes, high intensity, and it's a full-body workout. And I do these throughout course of the day. So I'm kind of trying to recreate how we lived, you know when we were perfect animals. And I think that helps a lot with injury prevention and, you know, back problems and all that sort of stuff.

Jonathan Levi: I really liked that. And I don't know why I never had that idea or why I've never heard anyone say that. I've just like, like you, you know, like the bad habit of snacking, how we all kind of snack throughout the day, why don't you snack on exercise and, you know, drop down and do a few burpees in the middle of the day. Instead of having that third cup of coffee with all the sugar in it.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, no, I couldn't agree more. And I've learned a lot of, kind of, you know, hacks if you will. And that's one of them, um, you know, the other is, yeah, snacking, the course of the day is, is not a good idea.

And you know, I've talked to so many people that say I got to travel so much and I put on five-pound J, you just can't eat healthy when you're on the road. And one thing I've learned is that it's better not to eat than eat something bad. So I also do, yeah, I do intermittent fasting. And if I'm traveling, I know that if you stick that in your mouth, you're going to feel worse than if you just fast forward this next flight.

Jonathan Levi: Well, it's so funny that you say that because I just it's coming out before this episode. So I'll tell people about it. But I just recorded an episode where I was fasting for three days and I record it on the third day. And that was one of my big takeaways is now that I know that I can fast for this extended period.

If I find myself on a 22-hour flight between Tel Aviv and California. And the only thing at the stop in Frankfurt is pretzels. You know, and I can't find a decent meal, I now know that I will feel better being on that 30 hour fast or whatever it might be. Then I would feel if I ate the pretzel. And that was the, my exact takeaway is that now I have this toolkit that I'm confident and comfortable getting to that situation.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. And I'm sure a lot of the listeners are thinking, Oh, I can't fast. Like, there's just no way I could do that. And you probably went into, we got very granular on the experience, but it gets easier people.

Jonathan Levi: Oh yeah.

Dean Karnazes: And especially the first time you try it, I mean the first 12 or 14 hours, you know, you want to chew off the back of your hand. You're so hungry. But if you can get beyond that, as you probably experienced it, it almost becomes like you don't want to eat.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, you're essentially high on ketones.

Dean Karnazes: Well, it's you got the runner's high kind of thing too. It's endorphins and large sort of way.

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. So have you found then that you actually greatly prefer running in ketosis as opposed to, you know, you see the traditional marathon runner shooting, these gel packs, which are just sugar and electrolytes, and you've actually found a better experience running on ketosis?

Dean Karnazes: Personally. Yes. You know, and I'll preface that again, by listening to everyone follow no one, I run with the group of guys that are incredible athletes and you know, some of them, you know, I know guys that eat 60, 70, 80 gel packs during a hundred-mile run, that's all they eat. They don't need any solid food.

Yeah. I could never do that. I mean, that's just pure sugar, but for me, because of the pace, you know, if you're sprinting, it's better to have carbs. But a marathon is not a sprint. And that's the thing for these longer durations. You're primarily burning fat for fuel.

Jonathan Levi: I want to ask you, Dean, are there any other kinds of skills that are such a good one with the kind of snacking on exercise?

Are there any other kinds of skills or habits or routines that you do throughout the day when you're not running that you feel just make you in general as an author, as a business person, as an athlete, perform at a higher level?

Dean Karnazes: You know, um, one thing that I've really learned is to protect my time and protect my attention.

It's so easy to get distracted these days and go off kind of in these spirals of, you know, news feeds or whatever it is. So I've really, really, I've been there. I think a lot of us have been through that and either are still there right now, kind of swept up in it, in this bubble, or, uh, I've kind of moved beyond it.

So I protect my attention like crazy. Um, very, very sparse in scheduling, especially, you know, sort of interviews like this. I mean, I probably take one in 20 requests. So you're special how's that?

Jonathan Levi: I appreciate that. I appreciate that very much. I actually also really liked that you said, you know, can we please keep this to a 30-minute interview?

I think it'll be better and it'll save time. You know, I appreciate that direct open honesty. And, and  I've found that that's one of the best ways to protect your time is just asking other people.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, I agree entirely. And I, you know, the other thing I do, I mean, if it is multitasking, which it can be debatable. I love to read. I mean, I encourage people to read absorb books. I primarily listen to non-fiction, you know, sometimes adventure books, sometimes business books, but audiobooks. So when you're training six or seven hours a day running, you can't have a book in front of you. So I've got over 500 audiobooks on my playlist and that's one great thing that has kept me current is just being able to listen while I run.

Jonathan Levi: Any particular books that stand out as having changed your life?

Dean Karnazes: What has changed my life? You know, there's an author, Eckhart Tolle who wrote The Power of Now.

Jonathan Levi: Love it.

Dean Karnazes: That was so you probably know about this book. That was pretty profound. When I read that. A book called The Endurance, which is about a Shackleton, the first guy that tried to reach the South pole. And it's an incredible adventure story, as well as, uh, an incredible business story and how he led this expedition back when expeditions used to be very hierarchical and he really ran a very flat expedition. And it's, I don't want to be a spoiler and say what happened in the end, but it's an incredible read. If listeners are interested in, it's just, it's called the endurance. That was the name of his boat that he used it to try to get to the South pole.

Jonathan Levi: Now I want to ask, have you read A New Earth, which is his second book, Eckhart Tolle's second book?

Dean Karnazes: You know what I found that the second book better, actually.

Jonathan Levi: Me too.

Dean Karnazes: I think a lot of people liked the introduction of the first book, but I really liked, um, A New Earth Awakening. I thought that was a better book personally.

Jonathan Levi: I agree if someone asked me which book changed my life the most, it was either 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris or A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, no, I, I agree. And I know Tim pretty well, and you know, when I read the book, I thought, wow, I'm already giving, getting this is stuff I already know because I was friends with him and I, you know, we talked a lot and, you know, we kind of were working in parallel kind of the same things he's discussing in the Four Hour Work Week. So, so it didn't really impact me. It didn't have that much impact on me at all. I just thought, wow. Okay. So he's just explaining what our day looks like. But to a lot of people, it was kind of novel and breakthrough.

Jonathan Levi: Really cool. I actually didn't know that, you know, Tim, that's pretty neat.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. Well, he's in a bay area, I live in San Francisco, so he's a Bay area guy as well.

Jonathan Levi: I'm actually originally from the Valley as well. I forgot to mention to you, pretty funny, small world.

So, Dean, I want to ask you on the topic of books, I want to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit about your books and, you know, I know you have a new book coming out right now, but also the other books, how should people choose which book, what are the topics that are being covered in each of them?

Dean Karnazes: You know, I think for your listeners, my very first book, which is called Ultra Marathon Man, Confessions of an All-night Runner. I think that that would be a book that would really introduce people to this world of ultramarathoning. So it would be something material completely different than what they've ever read before.

And that book is kind of like the Four Hour Work Week for insurance junkies if you will. So, I mean, I've got, you know, as Tim I'm sure has, you know, tens of thousands of messages from people thanking him, I have the very same amount of messages from people saying, you know, a lot of times the first line that, you know, the first sentence of the messages: Wow. This book changed my life.

Jonathan Levi: That's awesome.

Dean Karnazes: Which to me is just like, you know, I'm like, I can barely, you know, write my name in the dirt with a stick, how did my book change your life? That's a lot of people have just said, yeah, this. So I would just really say, you know, check out Ultra Marathon Man. If you like it, then there's a few others that are somewhat similar but in kind of different twists on that.

Jonathan Levi: That's fantastic. And then tell me a little bit about the new book.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. The new book is an exploration of the original marathon. So it's called the road to Sparta and the battle of marathon took place in four 90 BCE. And this was when the Persians actually invaded Greece.

And the Greeks knew that they were badly outnumbered and they were going to get slaughtered. So they sent this foot messenger, this long-distance runner named Pheidippides, and run, to recruit the Spartan is into battle to help, you know, push off the Persians. And that was the Genesis of the marathon.

A lot of people who run marathons know kind of a little bit of the lower, but you know, the the story goes that this runner as his final mission was to run from the battlefield of marathon when the Greeks actually defeated the Persian somehow. So he ran from that battlefield to the Acropolis. And he proclaimed Nikki Nikki or Nike Nike, which means victory, victory in Greek, we are victorious and then he dropped in died.

So, you know, it's a very glorious ending to some, to the ancient Greeks, you know, to die and serving your fellow man. It was kind of like the highest calling and I retell the story and I recreate the story. So I go to Greece and I researched the the path he took. I worked with the professor from Cambridge University, Professor Dr. Park Cartledge who's like the foremost authority on ancient Greek culture. So it's kind of a history book. If you're a history geek, this is a book to read. And it also, what I, like I learned in writing this is that this run largely preserved democracy. Because up in town, the Greeks, there was no such thing as democracy.

There's no, you know, there was no self-rule by the people. There was kind of this hierarchical dictatorship as most societies had evolved. Whereas, you know, there was a King or there was a ruler and there was his subjects under him. But Greece was very, very different than that. And, you know, had the Persians invaded Greece, that whole idea of democracy, which was just, you know, coming to the forefront would have been squelched all together.

It just completely demolished and who knows how things would have evolved from there, but it would have been very much different, you know, human evolution, cultural evolution from that point forward, had the Greeks lost at the battle of marathon.

Jonathan Levi: Very, very cool and interesting that you're taking kind of this whole different approach from the fitness books that you've written and dealing in the whole athletic industry.

I think that's really, really cool. And I always like to see authors branching out because it gives me hope that I'm not going to get stuck writing memory books for the rest of my life, writing about memory, but I have other interests. I want to write a course about Bitcoin and, you know, So I'm always really happy to see, you know, guys like Tim are like, okay, cool, like we talked about work now. I want to tell you guys all about cooking.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, no, I mean, he's really influenced me in that regard and that's part, you know, he's part of the inspiration and I thought, you know, I've got to step out of this genre of just writing, uh, you know, adventure running books. It's gotta be something different. So yeah.

Jonathan Levi: Exactly. So Dean, I know we have run up on time here. I want to give you an opportunity to let people know where they can learn more. Where would you have us send them?

Dean Karnazes: You know, I mean, if you're old, like me, you can go to my website, which is but I mean just plugging my name into any search engine and, you know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or those are my three biggest social media platforms or check out my website.

Jonathan Levi: You got it. And we will link to all your books as well. If people want to support us, uh, you know, use our links in the podcast.

Dean, I want to thank you. This has been an absolute pleasure and I knew we'd have a lot in common and similar mindset. So it's been a real pleasure. I do want to ask you the one last question though, which is if people take away one big message from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that to be?

Dean Karnazes: Oh, wow. That's a big question. Well, I'll revert back to the ancient Greeks and a quote that in my last book and it's, uh, Oh, Tolman Nikkei, which means it literal translation is “who dares wins”.

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant.

Dean Karnazes: So I think it speaks to the just daring just dare. And even if you lose you win.

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant Dean. I want to thank you again for sharing your time and your wisdom and inspiration with our audience. I certainly enjoyed it. I know they did as well,

Dean Karnazes: On next time you're in San Francisco. Let's go running.

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. I will try to keep up and be there.

I'll try. I'll try. I'll try.

All right, SuperFriends that is all we have for you today. But I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips, advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible. If you've enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine @gosuperhuman.

Also, if you have any ideas for anyone out there who you would love to see on the show, we always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website, or you can just drop us an email and let us know that's all for today, guys. Thanks for tuning in.

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit We'll see you next time.



  1. Luiz
    at — Reply

    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
    at — Reply

    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

  3. Rob
    at — Reply

    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.



  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

    I am new here, and learning really fast.
    Thank you.

  5. Leonia
    at — Reply

    Maybe oarts of the things he has to share are right, maybe not. If I look at him which impact his nurturing and living style has on himself I see a very old looking man! He is year 1973!! That is not old and he looks definitly much older!! If I would not know his birthyear I would guess that he is in his mid-60ies!! A bit concering for someone who claims his lifestyle is suitable for a long life, isn’t it?

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The Basics of Total Personal Transformation W/ Stephan Spencer