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How One Man Overcame Alcoholism, Lost 150 Pounds & Conquered Badwater, The World’s Toughest Footrace

By November 16, 2014January 18th, 202411 Comments

I’m obsessed with the idea that we can all do and be better. That’s what this show is about — a loud and clear call to action. A graceful nudge to help anyone and everyone not just understand, but actually believe that we are all capable of so much more than we often allow ourselves to accept.

Enter  David Clark.

It’s fun to interview the celebrated. But quite honestly there is just something far more personally gratifying about sharing the story of an anonymous, everyman hero. What truly moves and inspires me are tales of regular people with regular problems who courageously meet severe challenges head on; do something unexpected and astounding that strains the boundaries of what we imagine possible; and come out the other side transformed with life lessons that can benefit us all.

Much like my conversation with Josh LaJaunie ( RRP #63 is a must listen if you haven’t already and in my top-5 most downloaded shows), this interview will move you. It will touch you. It will erase whatever obstacles and excuses you rely on that perpetuate bad habits, keep you stuck and reinforce denial. My sincere hope is that David’s story will help you really get that no matter what your circumstances or environment, that you always hold the power to implement personal change that can profoundly alter the trajectory of your life — beyond your wildest imagination even.

I was first introduced to David by my friend Mishka Shubaly ( another RRP fave with a shocking 5 appearances on the show ). I didn’t know anything about him, but when Mishka says he’s worth investigating, I investigate.

I winced at photos of a guy pushing 320 pounds, prematurely aged, red-faced and bloated, cocktail in hand. I know an alcoholic when I see one, and this image of David cut a little too close to home. A guy who looked like hell, red lining towards death without a care while wrecking havoc, destruction and woe in the lives of loved ones and anyone and who happened to cross his path.

Then I saw a picture of a fit and slim 165 pound athlete crossing the finish line at insane ultra-marathons like the Leadville 100 and  Badwater – a 135 mile run across Death Valley in 130-degree July heat — widely considered to be the world’s two toughest footraces.

The 320+ pound guy, who looked like some kind of menacing Archie Bunker-esque uncle you’re scared to talk to bore almost no resemblance to that runner achieving things that would impress even the most accomplished marathoners. To say that I was amazed by the astounding extent to which he had seemingly transformed his life would be an understatement. My first thought was, can this be real?

But when I looked closely, it was undeniable. It was indeed the same guy.

I needed to know more. I needed to know how he did it. So I reached out to David and he sent me his self-published memoir,  Out There: A Story of Ultra Recovery*After reading the first page, I knew I had to have him on the show.

David’s is the story of a man who never had a chance to find out who he was. Growing up in the hardest of circumstances, poor, homeless, without any formal education and traveling the country in his father’s pickup truck, he’s a kid who grew up no stranger to the hard knocks of life. This book is a no-holds barred, at times quite painful personal account of what it’s really like to be obese. What it really feels like to be an alcoholic in the firm grips of disease without hope of escape. Spiraling toward death, spending years eating recklessly, drinking and drugging himself, David grew farther and farther away from everyone around him until he found himself completely alone. Desperate. Broken. In a fleeting moment of clarity, a thought occurred to him:

“If I don’t change today, I will die.”


Ultimately Dave had enough. Pulling from deep reserves, he somehow found the wherewithal to finally face and overcome his demons, transform his life wholesale and ultimately accomplish feats most sane people would deem impossible. First he recovered from a death-sentence addiction to drugs and alcohol that destroyed his career, his family and nearly his life. Then he overcame a life-long addiction to unhealthy foods & lifestyle habits to discover a healthy (now plant-based) way of living. Hand in hand with his life overhaul came a deep passion for running.

When he began, David could only run 15 seconds before having to stop, out of breath. But he persisted. And the results are staggering. He didn’t just drop 150 pounds. He didn’t just complete a half-marathon. He didn’t just complete a marathon. And he didn’t just finish the Badwater 135, but a whole slew of impressive ultra-marathons, including a stab at the 12-hour treadmill run world record. Today, David is a loving father of three, a running coach, sponsored runner, speaker, and a gym owner. And the running odyssey continues. Just today he texted me to let me in on a new challenge – he intends to run the Boston Marathon 4-times in a row to honor the memory of a young girl that passed away this year!

Not enough? David dedicates his remaining free time to The Superman Project, a vehicle he created to help others and further share his story of how we can all change everything about ourselves if we want it badly enough.


This week I am beyond pleased to give Dave a well-deserved microphone to serve this powerful message. So just how did he do it? Tune in and find out.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this week’s offering.

Peace + Plants,



Connect with David: Website | Twitter | Facebook

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


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  • Jory Howell says:

    I really enjoyed listening to this Podcast. My mom is an alcoholic and listening to your discussion about alcoholism provided a window into some of her behaviors. She never really sleeps, she just watches TV, drinks, and eventually closes her eyes for brief periods before she wakes to drink and watch TV again. She rarely knows what day it is because it is always dark in her apartment and as a result she calls people at all hours of the day. Your discussion about the relationship between alcohol, sleep, and food opened my eyes. I am proud to hear about other people recovering from alcoholism, it provides a glimmer of hope for all those I know who are caught in the grasp of addiction.

    I have listened to every episode and I will continue to listen, thank you for sharing such inspiring messages.

  • viii_ball says:

    Proof that anything can be overcome. I loved this podcast. David is so raw and so real. Probably my favorite out of all the podcasts and I have been listening since day 1.

  • ann says:

    Another great podcast; I immediately ordered Clark’s book. I am really intrigued by his description of how he mentally redefined himself first, and then let his actions follow that new definition. I think there are different types of addictions and addicts, though we all probably use to avoid ‘discomfort’. What percentage of addicts have a huge ego like what David and Rich (and Bill W?) describe? Does this ego provide transformative energy to believe in something that doesn’t seem to exist? Are there a percentage of addicts whose belief in their own worthlessness out-weighs their ego? (Or is the worthlessness story also somehow actually egotistical?) Though neither story, mega ego or worthlessness, is true, how do those addicts who feel predominantly worthless find the energy to transform themselves, their story?

  • Barry Wood says:

    This is the greatest interview in the history of words. I was absolutely riveted. When does one ever get the chance to listen in on two men who are so down-to-earth, yet powerfully inspirational? I came away from this interview (and the book, which I just finished) just incandescent with a sense of the potential of the individual human being. Thanks so much for this.

  • Darklighthouse says:

    As usual, another great PODCAST. Just wanted to let you know that your PDs gives me pause. I am enjoying your journey and how it has crafted my own. Keep it going and continue to fight the good fight. Ciao

  • Tina says:

    Another great podcast thanks Rich. As a former fat food addict and heavy drinker, I find that stories like David’s, Josh’s or the superb Chef AJ resonant with me more due to the fact that I can personally relate to them. I’ve lost 63lbs this year by going no added fat, gluten free vegan and still find it weird when I see myself in the mirror as a much slimmer person. My husband tells me it’s like having a new wife!

    Please keep these ‘every person’ stories coming as they are so motivational for those of us not blessed with addiction free personalities!

  • Jeff Poulin says:

    I loved this interview. One of the best in the RRP collection. After listening, I ordered David’s book and was blown away by his raw and honest life story. I’m fortunate enough to have never struggled with addiction, but reading his book left me with a sense of what it must be like. He’s incredibly inspiring. Thanks, Rich, for finding yet another great guest for your show!

  • Kym says:

    Wow! What a powerful story. For those who have dealt with addiction of any sort, this episode will hit them at their core. The two of you have a great chemistry. I too just ordered David’s book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  • Tommy F says:

    David Clark.. what a warrior! I’m so very inspired by this particular podcast. From red-lining to finish-lining. I don’t think I’ve seen someone scrapping along rock bottom, only to emerge on-top, now helping others out of the very hell he pulled himself out of.
    In reading David’s book, I still can’t get the visual of when while driving drunk, he was hitting speedbumps, then threw-up all over his dashboard and the inside of his car.. came out the next morning with a splitting hangover, needed to go to work, so he drove the car there with all the horrible puke decomposing in there, and once at work, came out and wiped the car clean. Man.. this just goes to show how much the disease of alcohol takes from you. So much carnage to pick up in a path of destruction. I’ve been there.. it’s not fun.
    Thank you for sharing your journey David, and not giving up on yourself.

  • Jo says:

    I have one word WOW! This was so inspiring!! I am listening for the second time. I can not thank enough for sharing 🙂 Peace + Plants Rich.

  • Kate Scott says:

    Really great interview. Very interesting discussion about alcoholism and its awful grip – but a grip you both escaped from nonetheless. Kudos to both of you for your open and honest reflections. I have just come across these podcasts recently – you do a great job Rich.

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