The New York City Marathon is this Sunday, which means New York City is buzzing with excitement (and I’m sure, a LOT of pre-race jitters). What’s even better is that a lot of elite runners are in town to celebrate the days leading up to the big race, including Meb Keflezighi, who will be running his 26th (and final) marathon this Sunday. I’ve had the honor of meeting with the American athlete, Olympian and 2014 Boston Marathon winner in the past, but took special pride in listening to what he had to say in front of a packed room at Custom Performance Physical Therapy Wednesday evening, and at his retirement party at Jack Studios in partnership with Epson on Thursday night.
On Wednesday, Meb had a Q&A-style interview with Gary Muhrcke, the winner of New York City’s first marathon in 1970 (he ran a 2:31:39), Keflezighi. At Epson, a similar format with a different host ensued. He answered questions about his own training as well as dished out advice to fellow runners in attendance. As always, I was awed by Meb’s fun-loving attitude and humble demeanor — especially right before such a big race!
Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.
The Swag IS Worth It
Perhaps my favorite story that Meb told us was that he came to learn he had a self-described God-given talent because he was bribed with a t-shirt. His seventh grade physical education teacher promised anyone in the class who ran a 6:15-minute or less mile would get a free t-shirt, and an A in the class. I smiled at this story, and think that a LOT of runners can relate. We all do some pretty questionable things for swag.
Preparation Is The Key To Success
“It’s not what you do in two hours of practice, but what you do to care for yourself in the next 22 hours,” Meb explained, emphasizing the importance of recovery. “Do things diligently, day in and day out.”
Meb Didn’t Begin Running Marathons Until He Was 27
As a recent 28-year-old, this gives me hope that my running journey is just beginning.
Encourage More People To Join The Sport
Meb encouraged everyone in attendance to invite others to join the sport of running. “We always remember who brought us to the sport,” he explained. “Encourage others to join you.
Take Comfort In The Crowd
Meb draws inspiration from other runners as he races. “My mantra? I know I’m hurting. That person next to me must be hurting as well. I want it it to hurt more.”
The Ideal Pre-Race Dinner? Spaghetti & Meatballs
At least, that’s what Meb’s mom used to make him before big races when he was growing up.
It’s OK (and Normal) To Fail Before You Succeed
“So many people I know or have read about failed many times on the road to becoming the best they could be. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get back up.”
Meb finished 11th at Sunday’s Race in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 29 seconds. He may not have made his goal to be in the top 10, but he certainly gave New Yorkers an inspiring victory lap.