Meb pushing the tempo on the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials in LA, his 23rd marathon at age 40. Photograph: 101 Levels West
When Meb Keflezighi completed his first marathon—New York Metropolis in 2002—his first thought was the identical one most first-time marathoners have: “I don’t need to ever do that once more.”
And like most first-time marathoners, he discovered himself on the beginning line of one other marathon (Chicago) lower than a 12 months later. And one other one after that, and one other one after that, till lastly, he’d run 26 marathons in 15 years, profitable New York, Boston, and an Olympic silver medal alongside the way in which.
Early on throughout this enterprise, Keflezighi says he “determined to be a pupil of the game.” He would apply what he discovered from every race to future races, which ultimately allowed him to dial within the bodily preparation and psychological fortitude essential to change into one of many world’s finest marathoners—and a four-time Olympian.
Keflezighi stresses the significance of his upbringing in studying the worth of preparation. Keflezighi was a refugee from Eritrea, who moved to america along with his dad and mom and siblings in 1987. “My dad and mom taught me that the important thing to life is schooling, the important thing to life is preparation,” he says. “I’m not probably the most proficient man, however I attempt to work laborious and do issues the suitable means.”
What does this imply by way of operating? Keflezighi doesn’t depend on expertise or luck, however trusts his coaching. For example, he says that if somebody requested him to run a half marathon at five-minute tempo proper now, he would wrestle. However a month or two from now? Carry it on. “I imagine within the course of, I imagine within the coaching,” he says. He is aware of precisely the kind of exercises—intervals, tempos, lengthy runs, strides—obligatory to achieve success at a sure distance and tempo, and is aware of that he can’t have success with out diligently following the method.
“All of us have this physique, now we have to nurture it,” he says. “If I prepare constantly, I’ll have good outcomes.” These outcomes are predictable and constant. Keflezighi accomplished 19 of his 26 marathons between 2:08 and a pair of:14 and eight of them between 2:09 to 2:10. “I’m the identical particular person, so I don’t count on to be all around the chart if I do the method proper,” he says.
Consistency can also be obligatory in diet; along with discovering meals that labored for him, Keflezighi weighed himself nearly on daily basis when he was competing. “I might take the size with me once I traveled,” he remembers. “Effectivity is necessary, and I knew what I needed to weigh to be environment friendly.”
That racing weight is 121 kilos for the 5 foot, 5 inch Keflezighi. He says he weighed that even on the Rio Olympics regardless of joking along with his spouse that, attributable to Rio additionally being a household trip, he was “going to realize 50 kilos and present up on the beginning line wanting like a black Keep Puft Marshmallow Man subsequent to the world’s prime marathoners.”
Keflezighi retired from aggressive operating in 2017 after operating the New York Metropolis Marathon for the eleventh time. He now works full time as a model ambassador for his sponsors and as a common ambassador for the game of operating. He’s additionally the founding father of the MEB Basis, which funds applications that promote health and different optimistic life-style selections for youngsters. “I’m not competing, however I’m nonetheless busier than ever,” he says. “Folks nonetheless need to see me whether or not it’s at 8-minute tempo in a race or at a talking engagement.”
“I’m honored to be on that pedestal,” he says, “and I’m honored that individuals need to study from what I’ve performed proper and what I’ve performed flawed.” A technique he’s passing on these classes was to write down his new e book, 26 Marathons: What I discovered about Religion, Identification, Working, and Life from my Marathon Profession. Keflezighi wrote the e book with Scott Douglas (who was additionally Keflezighi’s co-author on the 2015 New York Occasions best-seller Meb for Mortals: Run, Suppose, and Eat like a Champion Marathoner).
In 26 Marathons, Keflezighi chronicles his races and their respective classes. The races are introduced chronologically, every as its personal chapter, with the massive takeaways because the chapter theme. For instance:
• Olympics 2004: Expertise isn’t the whole lot. Have perception in your skills and confidence in your preparation.
• New York 2005: Small private victories can present you that even better issues are potential sooner or later.
• Boston 2010: It’s higher to be 90 % prepared and make it to the beginning line than to panic and change into both overtrained or unable to start out the race.
• Boston 2014: All of us have our day when the whole lot clicks. When you acknowledge when it’s occurring, you may produce one thing that’s larger than your self.
• New York 2014: Mom Nature and different forces exterior your management will all the time be an element, however you may’t allow them to damage your race.
Keflezighi writes within the e book’s preface, “I hope that this e book evokes you to run to win in your phrases, in operating and in life.”
26 Marathons goes on sale March 19 and prices $25.