Meet David Goggins...The Elite Ultramarathon Runner Who Refuses To Be Beaten

You've never come across anyone quite like this former Navy Seal
06:56, 19 Oct 2019

“Some will second guess David Goggins for leaving the hospital to return to the mountains and finish what he started, and they’re right. 

“For most humans, this wouldn’t be wise. But Goggins isn’t most humans,” said friend and fellow-ultrarunner Cameron Hanes after David Goggins completed the Moab 240.3 ultramarathon in, quite frankly, insane circumstances.

He’s human, but his pain threshold, determination and psyche are out of this world. 

Having gone off track, losing his way around the 214-mile marker of a 240-mile trek to fall more than 70 places, he found his way again and started a charge back up the placings but suffered a pulmonary edema and was hospitalised.

However, having been discharged, he got straight back out there and attempted to finish the race!

A post on his official Instagram account read: “Having gone from 2nd place to 75th place and then making his way up to 9th place, he was keeping pace at each section with the leaders… his goal was to race the leaders even though they were twelve hours ahead of him.

“Please know that David is currently at the hospital receiving treatment for HAPE (High-altitude pulmonary edema) but already acknowledges that even though it goes on the record as a DNF - it was the best race of his life!”

This has been a long, arduous journey, which would leave most of us floored. But throughout his life Goggins has refused to be beaten.


From childhood to today, he’s been on the brink but pushes himself back up time and time again in an inspiring story of true dedication.

Born in 1975, he, his mother and older brother were victims of his abusive father. Owning a roller-disco rink in New York, he would have the trio working every night of the week until midnight.

From as young as six, David was looking after the skates but, even after his shift, the music was so loud, sleep was impossible, severely affecting his school work. Meanwhile, his mother was beaten, on one occasion for having the sheer audacity to attempt to take her young son to the hospital when he had an ear infection.

While David and his mother managed to flee to Indiana, his brother elected to stay put, one of many circumstances which added to Goggins difficult early life.

In his 2018 book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’, he says: “Life dealt me a bad hand.”

“I was born broken, grew up with beat-downs, was tormented in school, and called n****r more times than I could count. We were once poor, surviving on welfare, living in government subsidised housing and my depression was smothering. I lived life at the bottom of the barrel, and my future forecast was bleak as f**k.”

Having spent his formative years in poverty, he struggled with his demons and developed a nervous stutter while some of his hair also fell out due to the toxic stress. Despite attending school, a lack of supervision meant he could barely read in his teens.

At 24 he was earning $1,000 a month, “popping doughnuts like tic-tacs” and weighed 21 stone. Then one day, it all changed. The fear of “being a nobody” changed his life forever.

“Here I am listening to the TV and, lo and behold, I started hearing: ‘Navy SEALs. Toughest training,” he told CNBC

“I didn’t want to sit back and continually watch these shows about great people doing amazing things. I wanted that feeling in my head that I believed that they had: of true accomplishment.”

Starting from scratch, his natural perseverance and tenacity shone through. Required to lose 106 pounds to join the Navy, he did so in just three months on a “crazy, crazy, crazy routine, eating hardly nothing”, as he would later describe it.

Then came his incredible show of endurance, drive and power of the mind. Hell Week, consisting of 130 hours of continuous training with no sleep, turned into a 21-day nightmare.

Pneumonia and stress fractures curtailed his first two attempts but he was back for more, making it third time lucky.

The ultramarathon runner continues to push himself, diving headfirst into the next test, his mental strength unrivalled.

“To succeed in life, I became a master of my mind,” he told Thoughteconomics in an interview last year.

“I realised that my mind, like yours and everyone else’s, will always choose the path of comfort. We only have so-much bandwidth in our heads, and so when it comes down to the really hard stuff, our mind is like ‘You know what man? I don’t have time for this… I don’t want to deal with this right now…  I have bills to pay, I have other problems…’

“Our minds shove things in front of us that get in the way – insecurities, fears, problems.  But guess what, I was afraid of my own mind.

“If you’re afraid of heights, you should go up high; go to high places every damn day and figure out why you’re afraid.

“I had to reprogram my mind so that it no longer had the tactical advantage over me."

That resoluteness has seen him complete many superhuman challenges.

Goggins is the only member of the U.S armed forces to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.

If that isn’t impressive enough, he is also a Guinness World Record holder.

He suffered third-degree burns on his hands (really!) after completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. His ability to soak up pain and transfer it into energy is ridiculous.

“I feel guilty if I haven’t achieved every day,” he admitted to CNBC.

If his accomplishments are anything to go by, he is free of sin.

He is now one of the most respected, fearsome individuals, constantly reaching new goals before looking at the next target to hit.

The narrative becomes even more extraordinary when you realise Goggins achieved so much with an undiscovered heart defect.

It was only in 2010 that a routine medical checkup showed he had a hole between the atrial chambers of his heart. The condition prevents people from doing activities at high altitude. Amazingly but far from uncharacteristically, it didn’t stop Goggins.

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