“My breakfast go-to for sustained all day energy are sardines in olive oil. I know, sounds kind of gross, but they pack a wallop. One tin and I’m powered all day,” says ultrarunner Dean Karnazes, noted for his many running feats, including running 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 days (finishing with a 3-hour NYC marathon), and running 350 continuous miles (as in, no sleep).
The sardine breakfast started in Uzbekistan, he says—on the 525 kilometer Silk Road Ultramarathon. Since you can’t always rely on easily accessible healthy food, “I take cans of sardines with me when I travel overseas. We were staying in a yurt, and I was starving and all I had was a can of sardines, and I thought, ‘what the heck!’ I slept beautifully after. I woke up and wasn’t hungry and thought maybe I was onto something.” Now, they’re his standard morning meal. “Sardines are very nutritious and a great source of protein and omega-3s,” he says.
This from the guy who was well known for eating a pizza during a 200-mile (321km) race. “There was no food, so I had a pizza delivered on the roadside. I’ll never live that down,” he says—even though for the past ten years, he’s been eating more of a Paleo/Keto-style diet. “I’ve changed my diet a lot since those days.”
This eating style keeps him powered to train for races he’s doing this year including the Spartathlon, a 153-mile (246km) run in Greece, from Athens to Sparta in September. “It’s a killer, so I’m training and cross-training hard.” Leading up to it, he’ll do plenty of ultras, like the Headlands Hundred in Sausalito. “Spartan is doing a trail running series, and I’ll be at their race in Monterey on June 2nd. It’s a 10K, so I might run there from my house, which is maybe about 160 miles (257km) away,” says the 56-year-old athlete.
So…is there any coffee with those sardines? Yes, but it’s not your standard boring brew: “Once while traveling in Europe, an innkeeper put a sprig of rosemary in my coffee. It was amazing. Not only did it mellow the flavour, rosemary has one of the highest ORAC values of any food on earth, so you get the antioxidant benefits. I now add rosemary to the coffee grounds (about a 75 percent coffee/25 percent rosemary blend) before brewing nearly every morning.”
By Marty Munson