David Goggins – The Joe Rogan Experience #1080

Key Takeaways

  • A few of David’s remarkable achievements:
    • Completing 4,030 pull-ups in 18 hours
    • Running 101 miles in 19 hours
    • Running 205 miles (nonstop) in 39 hours
  • The road to success is filled with failure
  • Don’t say – “What if I’m not good enough?”
  • You are capable of so much more than you allow yourself to believe
  • Don’t quit
    • “What keeps me going? I quit several things and I know what’s on the back end of f***ing quitting. It’s a lifetime of thinking about why the f*** you quit, and I ain’t f***ing doing that no more.” 
  • The only way to find yourself (and learn mental toughness) is through suffering


  • David Goggins (@davidgoggins) is a retired Navy SEAL and former USAF Tactical Air Control Party member who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    • He’s an ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, and world record holder for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours

The Origin Of David Goggins

  • David Goggins is considered one of the toughest men alive (he’s done over 4,000 pull-ups in 17 hours and ran 205 miles in just 39 hours)
    • However, many people don’t understand the journey it took to get to that point
      • “I used to be the opposite of everything I am today. I was that guy who ran away from absolutely everything that got in front of me.”
  • As a kid, David was also frequently abused by his father
    • “I was this jacked up kid from living in a tortured home”
  • At age 8, David and his mom ran away to Brazil, Indiana
    • There was a ton of racism in the town – students often wrote hate speech in David’s school notebooks
  • Once he was old enough, David joined the Air Force – this is where is discovered his fear of water
    • He learned how to swim, but still struggled
    • Eventually, he left the Air Force to become a bug exterminator out of fear of going through the water portion of training
  • From the age of 19 to 22, David gained 125 lbs., going from175 to 297 lbs.

Becoming a Navy SEAL

  • One day, David came home from work and saw a show about the Navy SEALs on the Discovery channel
    • “That’s where everything changed for me… It made me reflect on the piece of shit that I had become”
    • David realized – “No one’s gonna f***ing come to help me. It’s f***ing me against me, period. I had to man up and the first thing I started doing was facing every f***ing fear I had, no matter what the f*** it was.”
      • David had two options: 1) Stay a 300-pound guy who sprayed cockroaches every night or 2) Go a totally different route and fail over and over again until he succeeded
  • David started calling recruiters but was told he had to lose 106 pounds in less than 3 months
    • He didn’t think it was possible so he went back to his job as an exterminator
      • However, the next night, while at work, David hit the motherload of cockroaches and realized he couldn’t bear to spend the rest of his life in his current role
        • “In that restaurant, I quit my job and left my cannister”
  • To lose the 106 pounds, David became a workout machine and exercised several times a day no matter the weather or how he felt
    • After he lost the weight, he made his way to SEAL training

The Road to Success is Filled with Failure

  • When David was 297 lbs. and needed to lose weight to join the Navy, he could only run a quarter-mile before giving up and going home
    • To motivate himself to improve, he’d frequently watch round 14 of Rocky  
  • David started believing in a “What IF” mentality – What IF he could go from being 300 pounds to become a fit Navy SEAL
    • “That dreamer mentality would always fuel me”
      • “We live in a society where mediocrity is often rewarded, but these men [Navy SEALs] detest mediocrity”
  • Turn negatives into positives and talk to yourself with a confident mindset
    • David would say to himself – “Who at 297 pounds would try to join the SEALs? No one! You’re the baddest motherf***er to ever live!”
  • Eventually, David went from being up to run 0.25 miles to one mile, then two miles, then four…
  • “’What if I’m not good enough?’ We always say that sh*t and then we try something else. If I’m not good enough, I’m going to f***ing make myself good enough; that became my mentality.”
  • Overexercising would later cause several health problems for David, but he did end up losing the weight needed to join the SEAL teams
  • Around 2009, David discovered he had a hole in his heart – “They say it was as big as a quarter”
    • The day before his heart surgery, David went for a run with a 50 lbs. backpack on because he knew he wouldn’t be able to run for a while after his operation
  • To break the world pull-up record, David did 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours (to get to that point, David did 67,000 pull-ups over the course of 9 months)
    • The first time David attempted to break the world record, he failed AND he did it on The Today Show with of millions of people watching (he failed to break the record on his second attempt as well)

From SEAL To Ultra Runner

  • While in the SEAL teams, Operation Red Wings occurred and David wanted to help raise money for the families of SEAL members who were killed in action
  • He began Googling the world’s hardest races and came across the Badwater 135
  • However, David had to qualify for the race by running 100+ miles for 24-hours (AKA run at least 100 miles while running for a continuous 24 hours) (at the time David was a jacked 230 lbs.)
    • After 70-miles, David was in the worst pain of his life – he was pissing blood and crapping himself
      • To stay motivated, David reached into his ‘cookie jar’: He thought back to all the incredible things he had accomplished and reminded himself that he was a bada** who didn’t quit when things got tough
        • There were no crowds and no trophies – it was just Goggins against Goggins
    • David ended up running 101 miles in 18 hours and 56 minutes
  • This is key – David thought he had given 100% effort 70 miles in, but then somehow unlocked more energy and ran another 31 miles
    • At this moment he realized his potential was nearly infinite
  • David later called the director of Badwater to sign up for the race. Unfortunately, the director neglected to let him compete as David has only ran for ~19 hours, mot the full 24.
    • So a month later, David qualified after completing the Hurt 100 (a 100-mile race in Hawaii)
  • After completing the Hurt 100, David finally got into the Badwater 135  (he finished in 5th place his first year running the race)

Additional Notes

  • David stretches for 2 hours every day; he also frequently does yoga
    • “Yoga is a martial art you do against yourself” -Joe Rogan
  • If you want to get stronger in life, you have to do things you hate
    • David hated the water so he became a Navy SEAL
    • He hated running, so he ran ultramarathons
    • He’s introverted, so now he’s going on podcasts and speaking more
  • “What keeps me going? I quit several things and I know what’s on the back end of f***ing quitting. It’s a lifetime of thinking about why the f*** you quit, and I ain’t f***ing doing that no more.” 
  • You can’t read theories about mental toughness, you have to experience hard situations and fight through them
    • You won’t learn mental toughness in a book
    • “You have to suffer. You have to make that a tattoo on your f***ing brain.”
  • “The worst thing that can happen to a man is to become civilized; you lose that f***ing fight”
    • Most 40-year olds want to retire and go on vacation, David wants to run more 100-mile races – “You want to be uncommon amongst uncommon people”
  • The only way you’ll find yourself is through suffering
    • Being happy is easy – the hard part of life is getting through the sucky parts (and about 90% of life will suck)
      • The more you suffer in life, the more you’ll appreciate the good parts
  • Don’t survive life, that’s weak – thrive in life.
  • Self-discipline is everything
    • Have total accountability over your life, you won’t always have people around you to help you
  • “I’m not gifted, I’m just driven”
  • “If someone calls you fat, they may be bullying you, but you might be f***ing fat. If someone calls you dumb, it may be mean but you might be f***ing dumb. It’s life; take it for what it’s worth and change it.”
    • Use the negative words from others as fuel
  • David’s 40% rule: Just like many cars have a speed limit on them, so does the mind
    • Oftentimes, you can push your mind/body way more than you believe
Joe Rogan Experience : , , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 35,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks