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Interview: so how exactly does ultra-runner Dean Karnazes relax?

Posted Jun 10 2011 12:00pm


Dean Karnazes is perhaps America's best known ultra runner. Or perhaps to be more specific he might be the only ultra runner most American's can name. In an effort to raise awareness of the Endurance Challenge, Karnazes was gracious enough to play questions and answer with EMT's Ryan F. We think you'll find Ryan's questions and answer fascinating.

Q.  What does family time look like?  As a full time employed father of two, I often find it tough to schedule life and workouts.  How do you organize it?  Do you have an efficient pattern or is it an ever changing reactive process?

A.  If I told you there was balance in my life I would be fooling myself. It is frenetic, fast paced, full on, and really fun. My family has an underlying love for one another and a mutual respect that provides the glue that holds us together. I try to make every sacrifice possible to put my family first, like training at 4am and running all-night when they are asleep. My family is my number one priority and they see that I am authentic in my actions to do my best to be with them whenever I can. Other than that, I just try to hold on for the incredible ride!
Q.  What does your grocery bill look like?  With that much running, you must be eating all the time.  Do you see running as a license to eat?
A.  I don’t run to eat; I eat to run (and sometimes eat on the run…hee! hee!). That means putting the most premium fuel in my body possible, which isn’t always cheap. There are certain things I don’t mind spending extra money on: healthy and organic food, education, and good running shoes.
Q.  How do you stay injury free?  Is there one specific secret?
A.  I don’t profess to understand why I have never suffered an injury. People have studied me and said that I have really good biomechanics for a runner, that my alignment is perfectly suited for long-distance running. I also cross-train with other sports which helps to build overall strength. I think that having good muscular development is really important. So many runners only run and I think that results in a good runner, but not necessarily and injury free one.

Q.  Rank the following in order of importance; Nutrition, Training Volume, Intensity, Gear - and why?
A.   First, I will say that all of them are interrelated. If I had to rank, I would probably put volume at the top of the list, followed closely by intensity, nutrition and then gear. I think nutrition becomes more important for athletes as they age. We all know of young runners who live on Twinkies and donuts. That doesn’t work as well when you
start to mature.
Q.  What's the damage to your shoes each month?  What rate do you use up shoes?
A.  I burn through shoes. Usually a couple pair a month. I work closely with the RD&D department at The North Face and I do a lot of wear testing of shoes to provide feedback and suggestions. When you spend so much time on your feet, having the right pair of footwear is critical.
Q.  What is your biggest lesson in humility from running all these races?
A.  You don’t always have to go fast, you just have to go.
Q.  What would you advise beginning runners as the one thing to remember?
A.  Patience. Getting in shape takes time and isn’t always fun. We are so conditioned in our society to seek out activities that are fun and entertaining. Running can be excruciatingly painful and difficult. That’s what I love about it!
Q.  How do you keep your feet healthy.  I know from personal experience it's almost easier to just have toenails removed than keep losing them over and over.
A.  Thankfully my feet are pretty tough.  I rarely suffer from blisters.  Toenails, they come and go.  Nothing personal.
Q.  What's your favorite splurge food?
A.  Chocolate covered espresso bean.
Q.  Out of all the places you have ran, what is your favorite and why?
A.  Wow, that’s a tough one. I’ve run on all 7 Continents twice over and have seen some of the most amazing places on the planet. But probably my favorite is right here in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s always best in your own back yard.
Q.  Where's the best place to recover and relax / vacation?
A.  I don’t know, I never do.  Relaxing stresses me out.
Q.  Do you have any odd race/training rituals or superstitions?
A.  I avoid high-fiber foods before going on long runs, if that’s what you mean. Other than that, I don’t have many hang ups.
Q.  What do you think Kansas City has to offer endurance runners/athletes? A lot of people think KC is flat and has cows everywhere, just curious how outsiders perceive the area.
A.  I have to admit, I thought these things about Kansas City as well. That is, until I actually visited the area.  Boy, was I wrong!  Kansas City has an energetic and enthusiastic running and endurance community.  Other than a few more cows than San Francisco, I feel right at home in Kansas City.

If you recall from THIS previous article, The North Face is bringing the Endurance Challenge to Kansas City in late August. Along with the race comes Dean Karnazes.  To celebrate the coming of the event, on June 25, Kansas City residents are invited to join Karnazes at 10:00 AM for a fun run starting at The North Face retail store in Country Club Plaza and stay at the Neptune Courtyard to hear about his recent LIVE! with Regis and Kelly "Run Across America," in which he ran 40-50 miles a day for more than 75 consecutive days. The event will feature live music, food and festivities from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM and Karnazes will be signing copies of his bestselling book, "RUN! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss."  More details are HERE .

Runfinish Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog , married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans.  Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at .  Contact Ryan at: or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan .

*Expressed opinions are not necessarily that of

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