Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes

How do you do it?

Why do you do it?

What do you eat?

Are you insane?

These are the four questions that Dean Karnazes sets out to answer in his book “Ultra-Marathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner.” Apparently almost all of these questions can be answered by one word….pizza.  First, the story of how all of this started.

Apparently the way to get into great shape involves copious amounts of bad tequila and mid-life crisis. Dean, out for his thirtieth birthday, took off into the night in a drunken haze, running all through the night (in dress socks), and ending up 30 miles away, with convulsing muscles, swollen feet, and a restored pride. This was to be the beginning of one of the greatest careers in ultra running the world has known.

Back to the pizza. Whenever Dean runs, he needs fuel. You cannot physically run the distances he does without eating. He has found one of the best methods for fueling up is having a pizza delivered to a street corner and meeting the delivery driver. Apparently complex carbs and fat is no problem while running for 36 hours straight. His other favorites are Pedialyte and any of the nasty stuff on those roller grills at 7-11. With 5% body fat, I think he can afford the occasional greasy pizza.

Dean has run everything from the Western States 100 miler, to 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He has also participated in the only marathon to ever be held in Antarctica, and raced acrossDeath Valley. The man epitomizes extreme running.Scientific analyses has confirmed that while his body produces lactic acid (the stufdf that makes your muscles become useless and start twitching) like the rest of us, he also has a mechanism to reduce that lactic acid WHILE running. This means the only limit on his running is fuel and sleep.

The book is a great recount of his journey from marginal HS cross country runner who stopped moving for 15 years to a world class athlete.  Dean has a great writing style, kind of along the lines of the style used by Andre Agassi in “Open.” You will often know what was going on in his head during one of these events. I highly encourage you to pick up borrow this book from your local library and give it a read. It is inspiring to read about what the human body is capable of. Dean is a firm believer that all of us have a runner inside, it may not be  a 100 mile runner, but nonetheless, we are all capable of running long distances. He at least has me thinking a marathon is not crazy at all. I mean he runs them to WARM UP!

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