Dean Karnazes once ran 350 miles without sleep. He ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He’s a bestselling fitness author, and has probably the most impressive thighs in the galaxy.
So in our unceasing quest to hike farther and feel better, we gave Karnazes a call and asked him to share his secrets to moving fast and living well.
1. Don’t sit down at work
Sitting kills. And the practice of spending 40 hours each week with your butt in a chair is pure fitness poison.
Karnazes suggests swapping your swivel chair for a standing desk and organizing stand-up meetings when you get the chance. Walk your office barefoot or in socks, and bounce on your feet from time to time.
When you feel up to it, mix some standing squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups into your daily routine. Keep yourself moving during the day and you’ll leave the office feeling vibrant and healthful instead of withered and used-up. Chances are you’ll get more done, too.
2. Read on the run
Literally. Throw an audiobook on your smartphone or mp3 player when you head out for a run, bike, or hike. The miles will glide by if your mind stays occupied, and you’ll come home with something to talk about other than how much your legs hurt.
Karnazes recommends “Endurace: Shakleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing or “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer. Your humble editorial director recommends “Desert Solitaire” by the incomparable Ed Abbey.
3. Keep it fresh
Don’t let your fitness become drudgery. Too many people exercise at the same time every day and follow the same routine for each workout. This inevitably leads them to boredom and burnout.
Karnazes suggests working out at different times of the day—sometimes in the morning, sometimes at lunch or in the evening. Don’t run, bike, or hike the same route over and over, and choose different goals for each workout.
4. Avoid the “three whites”
Stay away from white flour, white sugar, and white fat (hydrogenated oils), as well as high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. For a more serious diet overhaul, Karnazes warns against eating grains all together—even whole ones.
“You can’t pick a piece of wheat from a field and put it in your mouth,” Karnazes says. “It has to be processed by a machine to become edible. Ditto with rice and oats.” If it comes in a bag or has been processed in any way, just don’t eat it.
5. Listen to everyone, follow no one.
Your exercise is an experiment with a sample size of one. What works best for others may not work best for you, so don’t be afraid to try new things or to zig when others zag. Seek out advice from a number of experts and use it to make something that works for you.
“Live your life with gusto and passion,” says Karnazes. “Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown. Take chances where others would play it safe. Remember: the bold don’t live forever, but the timid don’t live at all.”