What Makes David Goggins David Goggins?

David Goggins is the former Navy SEAL most known for his ultramarathon performances, motivational speaking, and pull-ups—he set the world record in 2013 of doing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours!

But Goggins wasn’t always a physical specimen and powerhouse. He was once overweight, and it took him three tries to become a Navy SEAL and three times to break the pull-up record. 

In this article, we reveal who David Goggins is, who he was, what makes him famous, what drives him, what he eats, and … what his feet look like.


Let’s jump in to the world of Goggins!

david goggins

Who is David Goggins?

David Goggins is known today as the man who wins ultramarathon races, can do countless push-ups and pull-ups, conquers ultra-distance marathons and triathlons, and is a motivational speaker.

Goggins served for 20 years in the US military, including as a Navy SEAL chief and in the war in the Middle East. 

He is the only known member of the armed forces to complete the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (aka BUD/s) course including the infamous “hell week” three times in a single year. He is also the only member of the armed services to complete BUDs, U.S. Army Ranger school, and Air Force tactical air controller training. 

Indeed, the Navy’s Magazine named him the Toughest Man Alive

However, what likely catapulted him into being a near household name was when he set for the world record for the most pull-ups in 2013: 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours! 

Earlier in the year, Goggins appeared on the TODAY Show to break the record but failed. He had another unsuccessful attempt following that before finally achieving his goal. (The record has since been broken.) 

He also has completed more than 60 ultra-endurance events to date. 

What Makes David Goggins David Goggins? 1
Photo by Wayne Peterson on Flickr

Was David Goggins overweight?

Yes, David Goggins was once overweight. When Goggins joined the military, he weighed 297 pounds—and that wasn’t mostly muscle. 

Through sheer mental fortitude and commitment, Goggins shed 106 pounds in only three months to become a Navy SEAL—and the only person to complete three of the SEALs hell weeks in a single year.

Did David Goggins have a tough time becoming a SEAL?

David Goggins failed at becoming a Navy SEAL two times. 

Goggins initially applied to join the U.S. Air Force Pararescue and was accepted into training after failing his entry exam twice. However, he was removed from training after being diagnosed with a sickle cell trait. He was later given the choice to restart training but he chose not to. 

Then, Goggins completed US Air Force Tactical Air Control Party training, serving in that role from 1994 to 1999. Then he left the Air Force and attempted to become a Navy SEAL. 

After three attempts, Goggins graduated BUD/S training with class 235. He was assigned to SEAL Team 5 and served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Then, in 2004, Goggins graduated from Army Ranger School and received the “Top Enlisted Man” award. 

How old is David Goggins?

David Goggins is 46 years old.

He was born February 17, 1975. 

How tall is David Goggins?

David Goggins is 6 feet 2 inches tall.

How much does David Goggins weigh?

David Goggins weighs 190 pounds.

Is David Goggins married?

David Goggins married Aleeza Goggins in 2005. They are now divorced. Goggins is now engaged to Jennifer Kish, though it is unclear when they’re set to be married.

Does David Goggins have children?

No, David Goggins does not have children.

Where did David Goggins grow up?

Goggins grew up in Williamsville, New York, near Buffalo, with his parents, Trunnis and Jackie Goggins, and his brother, Trunnis, Junior. 

Was David Goggins abused as a child?

Yes, David Goggins was abused by his father as a child. Goggins writes about this experience in his 2018 autobiography, Can’t Hurt Me

In the book, Goggins shares that his father worked him to work long hours at the family business, a skate park called Skateland. Goggins was sleep-deprived from working nights and began struggling at school. 

He was also chronically stressed as a child because if anything was out of place like a missing pair of skates, Goggins’ father would beat him at home with a belt. His father would also abuse his mother and brother, according to a Shortform article

At the age of 8, Goggins’ mother took Goggins and his brother back to her hometown of Brazil, Indiana—although Goggins brother soon returned to his father in New York. 

Did David Goggins have special needs?

Goggins had fallen so behind academically, his mother was told he would need to go to a “special school with special needs.”

His anxiety and stress had also led him to develop a stutter and lose patches of hair. 

His mother protested another school, and Goggins was allowed to stay in the traditional school if he went to group therapy. 

Related: Who is Dean Karnazes: An Inside Look at the Ultramarathon Man

Why is Goggins famous?

David Goggins is famous because of his “superhuman strength” which is regularly portrayed on YouTube.

He is famous for his military accolades, once holding the Guinness World Record in pull-ups of 4,030 in 17 hours, and his placings in endurance events including placing 5th in the Badwater ultramarathon after taking up running less than a year prior. 

Related: The Badwater 135 Explained

Goggins also became well-known after a book was written about him in 2010 from successful business man, Jesse Itzler, who is behind ventures such as a prepaid private jet company and Zico coconut water.

Itzler reportedly wanted to “radically change is life” by becoming mentally tougher and thought inviting a Navy SEAL to live with him for a month would be the best way to achieve this.

The book, Living with a SEAL: 31 Days with the Toughest Man on the Planet, was the outcome of Itzler’s experience.

Goggins also has an inspiring and classic underdog story—going from an abused child with a stutter to a young, depressed and overweight man to the toughest man alive.

What is the story of David Goggins?

David Goggins’ memoir, Can’t Hurt Me, a New York Times bestseller tells the story of Goggins and serves to motivate others, no matter their situation: 

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare — poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights.

But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes…”

What motivates David Goggins?

In Can’t Hurt Me, Goggins shares his belief that most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities, calling it The 40% Rule. 

“A lot of us don’t know about another world that exists for us because it’s on the other side of suffering. That’s the real growth in life,” Goggins has said.

Goggins’ personal story shows that anyone can change the trajectory of their life to reach their full potential. 

What is a “David Goggins Foot”?

Speaking of tough, David Goggins’ feet bear the brunt of his feet. Goggins’s fiance posted a picture of his feet in 2020 on Instagram, and it got a lot of attention. In it, you see Goggins’ feet are inhabited by bunions, gnarled broken toenails and cracking callouses:

How much does David Goggins workout a day?

According to David Goggins’ fiancé, Goggins is extremely structured, committed, and meticulous about his workouts and diet. 

His alarm goes off every morning for him to run no less than 10 miles a day.

He also hits the gym and does two hours of stretching. His fiance Jennifer Kish says he work-outs anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a day.

How much does Goggins run every day?

David Goggins runs every day, anywhere from 10 to 25 miles in a single day.

What does David Goggins eat in a day?

According to Men’s Health, a diet of 800 calories was all David Goggins ate a day to lose over a hundred pounds to become a Navy SEAL. 

This diet looked like:

  • A banana to fuel a long swim
  • 9 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast, three quarters of a cup of rice, and a cup of steamed broccoli before a gym session and run. 
  • Then a protein shake.

Today, according to his book, he eats more, but not much, to fuel his athletic endeavors:

  • He doesn’t eat breakfast until 11am to complete 16 hours of fasting. He will eat 2 fried eggs and drink bulletproof coffee.
  • For lunch he will eat a salad bowl with eggs, ground turkey, cheese, and an avocado. 
  • For dinner, he eats a steak or pork chop with steamed veggies, bringing his total caloric intake to just 2,000 calories.

In his book, Goggins does mention that he will occasionally have snacks during the day such as yogurt or granola. 

Related: Essential Guide for Running Your First 100k

What are David Goggins’ race results?

David Goggins has competed in more than 60 endurance events, finishing in the top in many of them. 

Here are some of David Goggins’ race results:

2020 Moab 240 ultramarathon—2nd

2016 Strolling Jim 40 Miler—1st place

2016 Infinitus 88k—1st place

2016 Music City Ultra 50k—1st place

2013 Hurt 100 miler Endurance Run—4th place

2008 McNaughton 150 Miler—1st place

2007 Badwater Ultra Marathon—3rd place

2006 Ultraman World Championship—2nd place

Get a full list of David Goggins’ race results and more information about him on his website

If you want help conquering the ultramarathon distance, check out my Ultramarathon resources!

Photo of author
Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners and a VDOT-O2 certified running coach. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her two crazy, beautiful kids, pups, and husband. She is currently training to qualify for the US Olympic Trials marathon.

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