Eating Pizza While Running–Interview with Dean Karnazes

The theme of today is obviously pizza. There are worse things I could talk to death, right?

Remember how I was a total creeper at the New York City Marathon expo when I spotted Dean Karnazes?

im creeping on dean k (256x456)

Well, his PR peep must have heard my desperate cries because I was recently contacted to interview him.

For those that aren’t big running fans – Dean Karnazes is the most awesome ultra runner in the world. He’s written several books, ran 50 marathons in 50 days a 200 mile relay and so much more.

But, the reason he’s my favorite is because he once ATE A PIZZA WHILE RUNNING! He called it an Italian Burrito – love that.

Interview with Dean Karnazes

RER : How did you train for New York? Do you even need to train to marathons at this point?
Karnazes: For me, I run marathons as training for longer ultra-marathons. When I run NYC I look at it as a training run more than a race. It’s too short a distance for me to be competitive. (laughter)

RER: How did the NYC Marathon go for you?
Karnazes: Just a walk in the park. (more laughter) In sincerity, the NYC Marathon is probably my favorite of all, and I’ve run hundreds of races on all 7 Continents of earth.

I once ran 50 marathons, in all 50 states, in 50 consecutive days, and NYC was the 50th and final marathon, so I have many fond memories. I usually run it in around 3-hours, and this year I think I was 3:04. Maybe one year I’ll train harder for it and improve my time, but right now I’m just enjoying every step of the way.

RER:  Do you do speed work? What type?
Karnazes: For speed work, I primarily do something called, “hill repeats.” Essentially, I run at tempo up a hill, and then jog back down. Typically I’ll do 5-6 repeats of varying duration and incline.

RER:  How many miles are you running a week right now?
Karnazes: It varies tremendously because of my rather insane travel schedule. A typical range is somewhere between 70 to sometimes upwards of 200 miles per week.

RER:  What do you eat before a long run? After?
Karnazes: Usually before a run I’ll have some Greek-style yogurt – unsweetened and full fat, along with some berries or a chopped banana and some nuts, either almonds or walnuts. Afterward I’ll rehydrate with some ZICO coconut water unsweetened and lots of organic fruit. For protein my favored go-to is wild Pacific salmon. Living in San Francisco the supply of fresh seafood is plentiful.

RER:      What do you do to recover from your runs? Ice bath? Compression?
Karnazes: First and foremost, I replace the fluids and electrolytes depleted during the event. I’ve tried just about everything, but find that simple coconut water works best. When practical, I find ice baths to be tremendously beneficial, and I am also a big proponent of compression.

The other thing I highly recommend, which might be a bit counterintuitive, is going for a run the next day. Okay, it’s more like a hobble, but I encourage people to try to run a few miles the day after a race. I think getting your heart rate elevated and moving you body really helps flush out your system from the metabolic byproducts created during the race. Active recovery is something I practice and it helps.

Question: If you saw someone famous that you adore – would you go up to them?


  1. says

    I just read his book on 50 Marathons in 50 Days and I loved it!! That’s when he ate a pizza while running a marathon 😉 Seriously, though, he’s the coolest man. I loved when he ran on a treadmill for a day on Regis and Kelly, and when he ran across the country. Most importantly, he did it for a charity, which is the best. Anywayy I loved reading more about him :)

  2. says

    He is so awesome. I can’t imagine how great it would be to interview him. I think I’d have to go out and run as far as I could after we were done.

  3. Karen Jung says

    Wow. That guy is incredible. Like it’s unbelievable what he has accomplished it just astounds me. I’m super shy so I probably would not approach someone famous. Awesome interview; great questions!

  4. says

    My dream would be to meet Tom Brady and sometimes when I’m running I day dream about what I would do if I saw him. I would have to say something! I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. I think I would just trip in front of him (I probably would fall anyways without even having to fake it). Then he would have to stop and see if I was okay! Or maybe he would just step right over me…

  5. Caroline says

    He has done some amazing stuff! Really neat what he has accomplished in his life and I totally wish I had an ounce of his running abilities. But if he could kiss himself on the lips.. I think he would.

  6. says

    I would love to meet Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan. I’m sure I would try to act all cool and just smile when I saw them though, while inside I would be DYING for a chat :)

  7. says

    I met him 2 weeks ago at my running store here in Baltimore! He was amazing and I was so awestruck. I even got a picture with him! Totally cool dude.

  8. says

    What a good interview. Although he is at a level most super runners will never even dream of, he gave such good information that anyone at any level can use. I love hearing about pro tips 😉

    I say with celebrities as long as you are not killing a private moment, why not take a chance and go up to them. It’s not likely u will see them (or their security team) ever again :)

  9. Christina says

    Oh my goodness I met him once at his alum cal poly in SLO and read his book and wow he is not only an amazing runner but I loved reading his life story! He even had crazy energy as a small boy running to his grandparents house in another city! I have 2 boys and a girl and his story touched me because he had a brother and a sister and well I don’t want to give the story away. But his sister became a huge inspiration for him…I cried and laughed reading his book.

  10. says

    Years ago I was in NY with the hubby for a week, and my biggest worry was that I would see my #1 all time famous crush…Steven Tyler…and would then have to decide if I would go up to him or not. The fact that it was my first time in a big city and first time taking public transportation of any kind/would be alone the whole week since hubby was working/didn’t want to look like a tourist…none of that mattered. I was worried about if I saw Steven would I say anything, or let him be, and if I did say something would he end up being a jerk and I would have to take a moral stand and never go to another concert/buy their CD’s/stop being a fan and find a new crush. I still don’t know what I would do if I saw anyone famous let alone someone I have a thing for.

  11. says

    I live in Portland and have seen Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher numerous times when I have been out and about running… but I am always too embarrassed or too worried to stop their workout to try talk to them. I regret it every time!

  12. Alissa M. says

    It depends on the situation…if they are eating dinner or doing some other “private” family stuff, no, I wouldn’t bother them. If they are just out shopping, etc…yes, even though I would be really nervous that I’d be a complete doof. Actually, the only celebrity I can think of that I really wanna meet is Shakira!

  13. Lea says

    Michael Arnstein competed in ultra marathons as a fruitarian. He runs 15 miles everyday to his job in Manhattan then runs home again at the end of the day, only on fruit. Crazy?!

  14. kathy says

    Yes, but totally depends on the situation. I have run into lots of celebrities and usually just ask for a quick picture. I think my favorite is with Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds, I’m in between them and one of them was rubbing my back but I’m not sure which because I was a little bewildered at the time :-)

  15. Valerie says

    If the person I wanted to meet was out being a public figure, like at an expo or conference, etc, then I would take advantage. But at the grocery store, i’d just stalk them and buy whatever they’re buying.

  16. Mia says

    So I’ve met several famous people in my life. Some I’ve known well, some have been friends of friends, some just in party type situations. Usually, not that big of a deal. And then this one time, my friend and i saw someone we ADORE. Like big time. Big. Time. The story of what happened next, well, when we told someone about it the next day the said” you two shouldn’t tell anyone else that story. Really.”
    :( Such a major life fail that i’m still very sad about it.

  17. Jessica says

    I can barely sip water during a race without cramping up; trying to eat a pizza would not be a pretty sight! I totally walk up to famous people I like- I don’t act like a freak, but I say hello and that I like their work. Usually they are nice. Usually.

  18. Stacie M. says

    I totally got a picture with Dean at the NYC expo…felt like a bumbling idiot who had no idea what to say, but he was very nice and gave me a bit of advice about a good “starter” ultramarathon

  19. chandra says

    I met Dean at the Northface Half when I lived in KC!! I got a picture with him (which is in a frame on an end table in my living room!) and got him to sign my UltraMarathon Man book. He’s my distance running hero. :)

  20. says

    I had to re-read his answer on his weekly mileage…70 to 200 miles/week…whaat?! I was hoping to hear more about the pizza eating while running story! Thanks for sharing and I’m happy you got to interview someone you admire, that doesn’t happen often!

  21. says

    The first time I met and actually talked to someone semi famous (a musician I love) I uttered something ridiculous and walked away. It may as well have been, “I carried a watermelon.” Learning from that, I met The Indigo Girls and after hugging them I said, “I’ve listened to you since I was in high school.” Oh did I say, “learning from that”, I meant, “still a dork.” :-). Thanks for sharing this!!!

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