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18 Questions With One of the Gnarliest Runners in the World

Dean Karnazes has run over 100,000 miles—here's what he's thinking about, eating, and dreaming up next.

Dean Karnazes, for lack of better words, is one gnarly dude. A real gnarly dude. In a good way, of course. An ultramarathoner? What could you possibly be thinking? What makes a man pound the pavement for more time and distance than some people would manage in... how long? A decade?

Let's do some calculations. We'll use the Fitbit Surge. Say you walk the recommended 10,000 steps per day, seven days per week. That's 35 miles (assuming that for you,10,000 steps equals five miles). Say you're not a major runner but you run three miles every other day in addition to hitting that step goal. That's 6,000 steps. Tack those on to three days of the week for a grand total of 88,000 steps in a week (or 44 miles). Stay with us. Multiple that by 52 weeks and that's 2,288 miles in a year. Multiple that by 10 and you get 22,880 miles. Karnazes estimates he's run 100,000 miles in his running career. Right. So he runs a lot. 

We flew across the country to run witih him and to find out what exactly does go through his mind, along with 17 other things. Plus, we talked about how he uses the new Fitbit Surge in his training. Here's what we got on the man of many miles.

MF: So, how long have you been running?

DK: [laughs] My whole life. I started running when I was six-years-old, and then I took a bit of a break in high school, and then starting running again on my 30th birthday.

MF: Tell us a little about that 30th birthday experience.

DK: [laughs] So I was in a bar with my buddies, doing what you do on your thirtieth birthday: Drinking cheap tequila. And at 11 o’clock at night I said “I’m leaving.” They said, “Oh come on, let’s have another round,” and I said, “No, I’m going to run 30 miles right now to celebrate my thirtieth birthday.” So of course they said, “No you’re not running—you’re drunk.” I hadn’t run in 15 years. And I said “I am drunk, but I’m still gonna do it.” So I literally walked out of the bar, I peeled off my pants—I had these silk jockey briefs on—and I just ran off into the night.

MF: What do you love most about the sport of running, and the whole activity behind it?

DK: You know, running is such a simple act, but it’s very dynamic and complex as well. One, I love the freedom of just getting away from things, putting on a pair of shoes and just busting it out. I love the physicality of it. Some of the challenges I take on, like this last weekend I ran a 100-mile foot race in the mountains, just the grittiness of it—it’s kind of a self-confrontation if you will, it’s pushing past your perceived limitations and persevering. And I like that challenge.

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