Dean Karnazes

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Diet Detective: Tell us how you got to where you are now.

Dean: Hard work and no excuses.

Diet Detective: Define failure.

Dean: Failure is giving anything less than your best.

Diet Detective: What is your most influential story, fiction or nonfiction, from a film, book, magazine, newspaper or parable? Explain its impact on your life?

Dean: My sister once said to me: “Follow your heart and you will never lose your way.” She was killed in a car accident a month later, at age 18, and I have lived those words ever since.

Diet Detective: Was there a defining moment in your life when you made a decision that changed the course of the rest of your life forever?

Dean: I walked out of a bar on my 30th birthday and ran 30 miles cold turkey. It hurt bad, but it changed the course of my life ever since that faithful event.

Diet Detective: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself? What’s the biggest lesson you haven’t learned?

Dean: There are no shortcuts to excellence, at least any that I’ve discovered. Dedication, commitment, passion, and sacrifice are essential components for high achievement.

The biggest lesson I haven’t learned is fear and trepidation. I still view myself as invincible, which is clearly not the case.

Diet Detective: What keeps you going?

Dean: The desire to live every moment of life to its fullest.

Diet Detective: On those days when you’re not motivated to work out, but you know you have to, what’s the one thought that gets you going?

Dean: Projecting on how much better I’ll feel if I do.

Diet Detective: What person do you respect most, or who motivates you?

Dean: My wife. She is a dentist and has a busy and thriving dental practice in San Francisco, yet she makes it seem effortless because she loves her employees, patients, and what she does. She can work for ten hours straight and come home looking radiant and energized. I don’t know how she does it.

Diet Detective: If there was one healthy food item (something you love) that you had to eat every day, what would it be?

Dean: Wild Pacific Salmon.

Diet Detective: What is the one food or meal you always eat before an event? What about before training?

Dean: Water.

Diet Detective: If you could only do one strength training exercise what would it be?

Dean: Push-ups.

Diet Detective: What are your two favorite health magazines?

Dean: Men’s Health and Runner’s World.

Diet Detective: How do you take total control of your mind and body to achieve the focus you need during pivotal sports moments?

Dean: By taking “baby steps.” When I hit a low, say at mile 75 in a 100 mile footrace, I don’t think about the 25 miles still left to cover, but just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and take it step by step.

Diet Detective: What do you think is the best training location in the world?

Dean: San Francisco. The air is purified by 6,000 miles of ocean, and the natural beauty inspires outdoor activity.

Diet Detective: Do you have a favorite healthy recipe or cooking tip? If so would you share it?

Dean: Plain Greek yogurt, Nature’s Path organic cereal, and fresh cut fruit. It’s the perfect start to every day.

Diet Detective: Is there anything about yourself that you’ve changed your mind about in the last 20 years?

Dean: I’ve changed plenty over the years. Once my goal was to accumulate things — material possessions — and now my goal is to give away everything I own.

Diet Detective: Define individual responsibility and how you react to adverse situations.

Dean: You are ultimately accountable for your actions, and every human on earth knows this. When you do something irresponsible, you can’t hide it from yourself. “To thy own self be true.”

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