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Dean Karnazes – 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – Running Book Review

“Running to me, is the purest expression of absolute freedom. There are no boundaries; there are no finish lines; nothing is contrived. There is only never-ending liberty to go as you please, to savor and explore, to immerse yourself wholeheartedly in the experience of being completely alive for this fleeting moment in which we inhabit this universe.” – Dean Karnazes

Dean Karnazes is easily the most public and mainstream athlete in trail/ultra running. I swear I have seen the “Be like Dean” shirts at my local market. Actually I did find one…

See ya Mike!

Beginning in September 2006, Dean went on a 50 marathons in 50 days (across 50 states) adventure to try and inspire a fitness revolution across the country. Dean and his small support team RV’d it around the country running on certified marathon courses and promoting the active life through the local/national media. Some of the runs were during the actual marathon event, but most were low key and included a small set of runners that desired to share in this experience. A few runs were even on trails.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days — and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!, is a book Dean wrote (along with Matt Fitzgerald) that provides a diary-like look into this significant undertaking and shares some of the unique, challenging, bloody, and special experiences from each marathon. The easy-to-read book is also layered with useful tips to support your own endurance sports journey.

Marathons through the TALON Region

Day 4

First stop in the region was the Little Rock Marathon course in Little Rock, Arkansas. A surprise runner included in the intimate group of nine, included Governor Mike Huckabee. What was supposed to be a low-key day, turned a bit more intense with all the extra media due to the Governor’s involvement. This and getting virtually no sleep the night before made for an interesting day.

Day 22

Two and a half weeks later, Dean and crew were back in the region and had 30 runners join in on the at-altitude (5000+ feet) and hilly New Mexico Marathon route in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Along with plenty of sweet scenic views, the run ends in Old Town Albuquerque that includes stunning architecture. Conditions seemed pretty nice, with cloudy skies and 67 degrees in a dry region of the country.

Day 23

Next stop, the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 44 runners tagged along with eight of them being marathon newbies. Four of the runners that said they were only running a half…ended up running the entire distance. This was a common theme throughout this 50 day adventure.

I responded the same way, when Lisa Smith-Batchen was in Texas for her Run Hope Through America 50 mile run. I had plans to run about 16…ended up completing the entire 50 miles.

Day 24

Off to Dallas, Texas to run the White Rock Marathon course.

75 runners joined in on this experience with more than 20 new to this distance. Thunderstorms pounded the group. Less than ideal conditions but a few grins were had at the Dollies.

Day 25

The Baton Rouge Beach Marathon course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, included a group of 28 excited runners that included a 12 year old that finished the entire distance. Humid and 87 degrees and they still pulled off a sub-4 finish.

Half way done! Try wrapping your head around that after 25 days on the road while running a marathon to start off each day.

The Schedule

The day-to-day schedule was intense. This was no lay-poolside sipping a cocktail experience.

  • 5:00 AM – Wake up
  • 6:00 AM – Blood draw and urine collection (when scheduled for research studies)
  • 8:00 AM – Start marathon
  • Noon – Finish marathon (plus or minus one hour)
  • 12:30 pm – Finish festival (at finish line area)
  • 5:00 pm – Wheels up
  • 6:00 pm – Dinner on the bus
  • Midnight – Arrive at next destination (plus or minus two hours)
  • Average 4.5 hours of sleep per night

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

You not only need to have the physical ability to run the distance but the huge amount of mental and emotional energy to interact with people and media every day…on little sleep.

Read the Book and Achieve Super Endurance – Really?

Well maybe it is just a catchy title but there are a large number of useful tips ranging from training, recovery, racing, nutrition, traveling, motivation, running technique, and more.

For experienced endurance athletes there may not be many new concepts.

One specific finding that was new to me is the power of Turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory. I was aware of this spice as a powerful anti-oxidant so I had put it in smoothies, on oatmeal (along with Cinnamon), on rice/lentils, or on baked chicken. Nice to hear about the additional benefit.

What about this super endurance? This may be a bit of a stretch, but endurance newbies will find many useful tips that not only help prevent chafing and bloody nipples but can benefit your life holistically…beyond the sport.

Final Thoughts

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days is a fun read for almost any runner. Most of the tips weren’t very insightful for me but I enjoyed reading about the 50 day journey – getting a new manager, diggers, a wedding postponement, the young school children that got involved, the moose leg, the challenges to keep it all rollin’ for 50 days straight.

And who can argue against the cause – to inspire everyone to move that body!

Anyone else read the book? What did you think of it?

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

[This article contains links that may support Endurance Buzz.]

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

2 Responses to “Dean Karnazes – 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – Running Book Review”

  1. on 04 Nov 2010 at 9:01 pm Jeff Linwood

    I enjoyed the book – I was lucky enough to have run the Otter Creek Marathon in Kentucky the last year it was offered before government budget cuts forced the closure of the park. I did the other trail marathon (the Tecumseh in Indiana) last year.

    I did feel the book was more for new runners than seasoned marathon runners, but it must have been tough to come up with race reports for each day based on that kind of schedule.

  2. on 05 Nov 2010 at 1:54 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Jeff – Thanks for sharing. Cool to hear you ran on some of the same trails. The scheduling was insane…how he didn’t get severely sick or injured is rather amazing to me based on the little sleep and the seemingly significant stress placed on him day after day. Of course all Dean’s health data measurements showed very few signs that he put his body under stress…also quite fascinating to me.