Meb Keflezighi

Meb Keflezighi

After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?

There are so many things that drive me. First, is just a love of running. This sport is my passion and I feel so fortunate to be part of it. Second, is my family. Having young daughters, I wanted them to grow up seeing their father compete. One of my biggest motivations to run the Rio Olympics was so that my youngest daughter Yohanna, could see it. She attended the London Games but was only a toddler. I'm so grateful all of my daughters will have memories of my career. Ultimately, there's also the fact that I'm a natural competitor. I thrive off of the experience of competing against the best runners in the world. I've been a competitor since I was a rising runner in high school and the bug hasn't left me. On November 6, I can and will stop being a competitive runner. 


How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?

We all have days when we feel sluggish or a little off. I like to keep a routine and operate on a regular schedule. This gives me a pattern to follow so I don't have to rely on motivation. I'm also lucky to have a great family and support group. Being around them energizes me. Having supportive people is such an advantage any time you're struggling on your own.


On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?

My training typically consists of 12 workouts per week, with volume of up to 100 to 110 miles per week.


What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?

I do not spend a lot of time in the gym lifting weights. Rodale invited me to publish a book detailing my non-running workouts, which came out in 2015 and is called "Meb for Mortals." I'm a big advocate of developing the minor muscles that support and facilitate the running motion. I do a lot drills and stretching. Most of them can be done using an elastic band, a rope or even your own body weight. I credit this with helping me stay at a world-class level of performance into my 40's.


What did it take to qualify for the Olympic Trials and how did it feel when you accomplished the goal?

 My first Olympic Trials were in 2000, shortly after I graduated from UCLA. It was one of my first experiences competing on a national stage and I was determined to make the most of it. I was fortunate to qualify for the Olympic team in the 10,000 meter event. Representing my country at the Olympics was a dream come true. I stayed hungry in the years since but achieving that goal meant so much to me.


What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?

Well, one of the most memorable moments came in Greece at the 2004 Olympics. It was only a few days before the marathon and I was out doing some loose miles. A dog suddenly appeared and came at me in an aggressive way. Usually, dogs bark and claim their territory but leave you alone. This one actually attacked me. I was pretty shaken and very concerned about the impact it would have on my race. Fortunately, I came through and was blessed with a Silver Medal. Although not funny or pleasant, that experience reinforced my confidence in being able to rebound after setbacks.


What's your favorite types of fuel for running and why?

 I've long been a fan of Generation UCAN. I've been working with them since 2010. They have a great formula for providing long-lasting energy and an excellent protein product as well, which I use after every run.


What's your favorite cheat food & drink?

I have to say cheesecake. I don't eat it often, but once in a while it makes a great treat. I rarely drink alcohol but on occasion will enjoy a glass of wine. 


Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?

For most of my career, I used iced baths. When I lived in Mammoth Lakes, CA, I would finish every workout sitting in a 45 degree river. As I got older, I began to notice that my body took so long to get back to its normal body temperature. This became counterproductive and led me to eliminate the ice baths. Incidentally, I won the Boston Marathon after cutting out the ice baths. I can't say it hurt my performance.

What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?

My motto is "Run the Win." It doesn't necessarily mean getting first place. Winning simply means showing up and doing your best.  If you can commit to putting forward your best effort, the results will come and you will improve. At the end of the day, we can only control our own effort. That's the beauty of running and I hope new runners embrace that philosophy.

What's been your favorite race to compete in so far?

That's a difficult question because I've been to so many amazing races. It's hard to choose one. To narrow it down, I can say my heart is torn between the Boston Marathon and the NYC Marathon.


What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?

Winning the 2014 Boston Marathon. It meant so much not just to me and my family, but to my country and even the world. To be able to have an impact like that is more than I could have ever asked for.

Why do you feel like now is the time to stop competing in the marathon when you still continue to do so well?

I've actually had many moments in my career when I considered retirement. One was after the Olympic Trials in fall 2007 when a fractured hip kept me off the Olympic Team. Another moment came in November 2013. I felt I had accomplished all my goals. I had, but with the cancellation of the 2012 NYC Marathon and bombing in Boston, I decided to continue to compete. Amazingly, I was blessed to win the NYC Marathon in 2009 and the Boston Marathon in 2014. Being able to succeed after setbacks is one thing I am most proud of. The 2017 NYC Marathon will be my 26th marathon. The marathon, of course, is 26 miles. I am grateful for the career I've had and this seems like the perfect time to conclude.

Will you continue competing in shorter distance races or is this the end of your entire competing career?

I love the half marathon distance and want to run more in the future. They won't be as fast or as serious as my peak running days. But I'll do them for the enjoyment and to maintain my fitness.

Many feel you are the best American long distance runner and look up to you tremendously. How do you feel you've responded to that and used it to your advantage in running?

I am honored for the love and respect fans have given me. I do believe their support is an advantage. I'll never forget the roaring crowds that lined the streets as I was on my way to winning Boston. The noise was deafening. The support played an enormous role in my ability to hang tough for a victory.

Would you ever consider doing an ultra marathon? Why or why not?

I love trail running and have friends who enjoy ultras. While I have all the respect in the world for ultra runners, that kind of an event is simply not in my future. My career has been focused on the track and road. My heart is simply not in ultra running. Plus, it would be a drain on the time I have with my wife and daughters.

Click the links below to keep up with Meb Keflezighi