Rebecca found her love for running on the beach. She was a junior lifeguard from ages 9 to 16, and started in the “distance running” sand competition that first summer. She was also a soccer player for many years prior, in which her primary skill was running up and down the left flank of the field. She started running cross country and track as a 7th grader with the local youth club, the SoCal Roadrunners. From there She went on to run cross country and track at Palos Verdes High School, where she was a state champion, and competed at 8 state meets (4 track, 4 cross country). She ran at Stanford University for 5 years, and was an All-American in the outdoor 1500 meter and the indoor Distance Medley Relay. She has been with Oiselle, an all-women’s running apparel brand, since she graduated in 2017, and last year moved to Bend, Oregon, where she trains with Littlewing Athletics under coach Lauren Fleshman.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
Two things still drive my want to compete: first, I don’t feel like I have gotten everything I can out of myself as a competitive athlete. I know I can run a lot faster over both 800 meters and 1500, and perhaps other events in the future, so I want to see what my body is capable of doing. Secondly, our motto at Littlewing is “If it’s not fun, we’re not doing it.” I still have a lot of fun training and competing. The day it isn’t fun anymore is the day I retire from competitive track and field racing!
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
The bigger picture. Some days it can be tough to get out the door, my least favorite are treadmill days, but it’s easy for me to think about the bigger picture and what I want to accomplish that season, and how that day fits in. If that doesn’t work, it’s easy enough to grab a friend/teammate to help me along the tough days. A good music playlist is a must too!
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
The Olympic trials are this upcoming year! I hope to run an Olympic standard in either the 800 or the 1500 (or both?!) and make the finals at trials in whatever event I choose to run. From there I hope to put myself in the hunt to make the team!
What it like being on team Oiselle?
Oiselle is truly a special company to have the opportunity to work with. It’s a company by women, for women, that not only makes great athletic apparel, but also creates an even better community of women who love to run. It may be a small company, but it sure is a mighty one! I am a part of the “Haute Volée” or simply put, the up and coming professional tier of women. We are directly supported by the Volée which is Oiselle’s global running community made up of women with many diverse running backgrounds and competitive goals. My day at the 5th Avenue Mile in New York City is a great example of what being part of the sisterhood is like. I ran the race, heard a ton of women cheering, cowbell in hand, for me, and then met up with them all at a picnic with donuts and drinks in Central Park afterwards. How cool is that? Perfect example of women supporting women.
Who would you say is the funniest Oiselle teammate?
Depends on the day! I love being in the car with Mel Lawrence. Her bad-driving related commentary is hysterical!
What's your favorite distance to race?
Oh, this one is tough. I only started racing the 800 meter seriously this year, so the event is really new to me. I still have so much to learn. But this year I enjoyed racing it because it was such uncharted territory for me! Despite that, I still think the 1500/mile is my favorite event.
How to you balance your running career and being the chief of staff to the mayor?
I moved to Bend, Oregon last year to focus on my running, but being the busy bee I am, I knew I needed to work/engage with my community in other ways in order to feel happy and balanced. I was thrilled to meet Sally Russell, who had just announced her candidacy for mayor, and work with her on the campaign and thereafter with her as mayor. Though running is still my primary focus, I work with Sally on a daily basis, which can range from a quick couple of messages, to several hours of policy, communications, or scheduling work for her.
What has been your most memorable race to date?
My most recent race at the 5th Avenue Mile has got to be up there. It was the first time I got to wear a flag after racing in the United States, and I feel was also a big breakthrough race for me as a pro!
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I generally lift 2 times per week with the team. I never did lower body lifting in college, so that has been a big change for me this past year. I also did a lot more PT-oriented exercises that focused on using my glutes and core properly. Those helped so much to improve both my strength and form.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
One year in college, NCAA regionals were in Lawrence, Kansas. After several days of tornado and severe storm warnings that delayed the meet, we finally got to go for a run outside. We were running on a sidewalk, and I didn't think twice about running through the small puddle in front of me. Suddenly my feet came out from under me and next thing I knew I was on my back in the puddle, completely covered in greenish brown stuff with 3 of my teammates that I had taken down in the process. Turns out the puddle was full of slippery, disgusting goose poo. I then had to be evaluated for a concussion covered in dung. To this day I still don't trust puddles...or geese.
What's your favorite types of fuel before a race?
Lately I've loved eating the matcha oats from Picky Bars with a banana pre-race. I love the flavor and the added caffeine boost.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
I don’t really believe in cheat foods. I tend to eat what I want when my body craves it, within reason. But I can always go for a giant piece of funfetti cake.
What venue has been your favorite to race at?
Cobb Track and Angel Field at Stanford University. Maybe that’s cheesy, but that track feels like home.
What's it like to be ranked in the top 100 in 2 distances at the same time?
Pretty surreal! A year ago I watched the national championships on television from my couch, rehabbing from months of injuries. I feel very lucky to have had the season that I did!
Do you like ice baths?
This depends on the time of year. I try not to take ice or contrast baths during big training weeks, as I want my body to adapt to the training on its own. I did take a lot of contrast baths when I started racing more, and especially during rounds racing.
In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?
I love to swim. Any activity I can do in the ocean I love too.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Two pieces of advice: First, don’t be afraid to take off and really easy days. Recovery is your friend! Secondly, have fun with it!
When it comes to running, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?
Weakness: I am a total stubborn knucklehead when it comes to injuries, even small ones. Though I have gotten so much better over time, I am still not great at communicating when something is starting to bug me. I tend to minimize it in my head. Strength: Because I have come back from so many injuries throughout my career, I have become a great competitor, and really mentally tough. Put me on a starting line and I am a ball of fire.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
I would be remiss not to say Lauren Fleshman. I grew up with a poster of her on my wall. She is a Stanford hall of famer, and one of the best American distance runners of all time. She may be a legend, but she is also funny, down to earth, and one of the most thoughtful and eloquent people I have ever met.
Who is one of your favorite athletes to train with?
I love training with everyone on Littlewing, but someone who is particularly special to work out with is Carrie Mack. Carrie is a marathoner, so we rarely get to work out together, but when we do, it’s awesome. She is a ray of sunshine, even on the toughest days. She loves to run and appreciates every day she has the opportunity to get better.
If you could compete in one Field event, which would you choose?
I would love to be able to pole vault. Those women are tough as nails, and get the coolest photos 15 feet up in the air.
What's next for Rebecca Mehra?
Back to Bend to train! I just finished up my time off, and a vacation, so I am ready to put in the work to make 2020 even better than 2019!
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