HealthRunning

8 Training Secrets from Meb Keflezighi

The marathoner runs on routine—and strawberry cheesecake.

Keflezighi, at 5 feet 5 inches and 123 pounds, is the definition of commitment—only taking easy 10-mile-run days if he needs to. (Photo: Embry Rucker)

Last April at the Boston Marathon, when at the seven-mile mark Meb Keflezighi pulled away from one of the strongest fields in the race’s 118-year history, the other elite runners let him go. He was old for a podium contender—nearly 40—and slower, it seemed, than at least a dozen of the other favorites; they figured they could reel him in later. But Keflezighi gutted it out for a dramatic win, the first for an American man since 1983. This month, when the Eritrean-born Keflezighi toes the line at the New York City Marathon, a race he won in 2009, you can be sure that none of his competitors will be thinking about his age, even if he is.

SMALL CHANGES: “Now that I’m getting older, I use nine-day training cycles, with three hard workouts and rest days when I need them. Of course, rest days are easy ten-mile runs. In full training mode, I don’t take any days completely off unless I’m injured.”

BUDDY SYSTEM: “Usually, I train alone. But on key workouts, someone paces me on a bike. It helps keep me focused.”

SLICE OF SUCCESS: “Strawberry cheesecake is my absolute favorite thing to eat after a marathon.”

HURT LOCKER: “I feel like I have to work harder when I’m injured than when I’m healthy. Massage, icing, core work, cross-training—whatever it takes to get fit again.”

ON THE CLOCK: “It’s important to have a routine. I usually run in the morning, when my body is fresh and unaffected by meals. Designate 
a time and it will hold you accountable.”

PULLING HIS WEIGHT: “I rarely lift weights. My gym work consists mostly of core work and body-weight exercises.” 

THE PERKS OF BEING A SUPERHUMAN: “When I was in seventh grade, my PE teacher told the class that if we ran a 6:15 mile, he would give us an A for the year. I didn’t know anyone and spoke hardly any English. On the day of the test, I surprised everyone by running a 5:20. Afterward the teacher told me, ‘You’re going to be an Olympian.’ Even better, running fast helped me make friends.”

KEY TO SUCCESS: “I don’t have any big training secrets. Just consistency.”

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
From Outside Magazine, Nov 2014
Filed To: AthletesSportsEventsRoad RunningStrength and Power TrainingEndurance TrainingInjury PreventionRecoveryNutrition
Lead Photo: Embry Rucker
More Health