Meb Keflezighi’s Top 10 Marathon Training Tips
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
If you talk about the great runners of today, Meb Keflezighi is undoubtedly part of the conversation. He tore it up on full-scholarship as a distance runner at UCLA, scored Nike sponsorship when he turned pro, and stepped into the international spotlight by winning silver in the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens. He made headlines again when he won the New York City Marathon last year, making him the first American in 27 years–since Alberto Salazar in 1982–to earn the victory. The 35-year-old will return this year to defend his title. To prepare, he's spent some time training with Jared Fogle, a.k.a. The Subway Guy, who will also run in the NYC Marathon on November 7. Here are Keflezighi's top ten tips for going the distance.
10. Find a race to train for: Running is a great form of exercise, but preparing for a specific race allows you to set goals and structure your training.
9. Find a training buddy or group: In the course of training for a marathon, there will be days where you won’t feel like doing your workout. Having a training buddy or group will keep you accountable to each other, and motivate you to do your workout, even when you don’t feel like it. I always say, the hardest thing about running is getting out of the door. Once you are on your run, you won’t regret the decision.
8. Choose your running routes: Spend more time running on soft surfaces. The impact on your legs from running on pavement leads to injuries and a shorter running career (at any level). Since most road races are run on city streets, it is important to get your body used to running on pavement, so you cannot avoid it altogether. I run on pavement about twice a week.
7. Commit yourself to eating a healthy and balanced diet: Remember, what you put in your body is your fuel for your training. Home-cooked meals are ideal, but if you don’t have time to cook a meal, Subway sandwiches are a great fast-and-fresh alternative. My favorite sandwich is the turkey on wheat, but on hard days, I like the meatball sandwich. I use PowerBars to supplement my meals, and Generation UCAN, a sugar-free product utilizing SuperStarch, as my recovery drink.
6. When training for a race, it’s not only your workouts that matter: What you’re doing when you’re not running is very important. Therefore it is important to always get enough sleep, stretch, and hydrate.
5. Increase your mileage gradually: I recommend about 10% increase each week, until the prescribed max mileage. This has been the key to my long running career, and the reason my body can now handle 120 miles a week.
4. Cross train when you can, don’t wait until you get injured: Cross-training does help build up your endurance without the same impact on your body. It is a great way to maintain fitness during injuries.
3. Practice your race day pace without having to go the whole distance: For example, I will run up to 15 miles at race pace to test my fitness. These tempo runs increase your confidence leading up to the race, and also let you know if you need a bit more time to meet your race goals.
2. Visualize your race plan in the weeks leading up to the race: This will help you mentally prepare for your goals, so that you can stay as relaxed as possible in the days leading up to the race.
1. Have fun! Enjoy your training as well as running your race. It is easy to get frustrated with training injuries or pressure of an upcoming race, but take a step back and pat yourself on the back for taking a step towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Good luck in your training, and Run To Win, which means get the best out of yourself. By doing that, we can all be winners in running and in life.