Interview with Meb Keflezighi

Meb KeflezighiI had the opportunity to talk to Olympic Silver Medalist and 2009 ING New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi yesterday.  Meb was in New York City running with Jared Fogle (the Subway guy). 

Meb, who was first American man to win the New York City Marathon in 27 years, is preparing to defend his historic win. Jared is running to support his Jared Foundation, which is dedicated to eliminating childhood obesity.  Ten years ago, Jared lost 245 lbs on his Subway diet.


I asked Meb how his training was going for the 2010 New York City Marathon on Nov. 7.  Meb said that he did a 27 mile run on a hilly course near his home in Mammoth Lakes, CA, with altitudes ranging between 7,000 and 8,000 feet (there is about 20% less oxygen at this altitude than at sea level).  The previous Friday, he did a 16 mile tempo run, losing 5 lbs (or 4% of his bodyweight) in sweat in the process.

Meb did a total of just over 120 miles last week.  He hasn’t raced since the Boston Marathon in April, where he finished 5th in 2:09:26, just 11 seconds slower than his PR, despite having injured his left knee falling on snow in Mammoth Lakes and suffering a longitudinal tear in his quadriceps.

He’s entered in the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Oct. 3 as a tune up race before New York.  San Jose is a flat, fast course.  Meb ran the same race last year and won in a time of 1:01:00. 

Recovering from Injury

After suffering a stress fracture in his hip (and losing his friend and training partner, Ryan Shay) in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007, Meb underwent a long recovery to get back into racing shape.  Immediately after the Trials, he was reduced to crawling and it hurt just to roll over in bed. 

Meb went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to get some high tech help from tools like Thermal Imaging Cameras, Electromyography, High Speed Video, and the Normatec MVP pressurized pants, which stimulate blood flow and accelerate recovery.

For those of us who don’t have access to the Olympic Training Center, Meb recommends doing plank work and core strengthening exercises to help prevent injury.  He views injuries as part of running and feels that you have to dedicate yourself and work through them just as hard and as seriously as you train.

Advice for Young Runners

Before he went to UCLA, Meb was a top runner for San Diego High School, finishing 2nd in the Footlocker National Cross Country Championships in his senior year.  I asked him what advice he would have for today’s young runners. 

Meb said that he ran 25 miles a week for his first 3 years of high school and topped out at 56 miles a week during his senior year.  He said that while he has heard that some high school teams are doing up to 100 miles a week, he doesn’t think that this is a good idea.  He said that, unlike some other sports, distance runners don’t peak in high school or even in college. 

If they don’t burn out, they can have a long career, like Meb (who’s 35), his training partner Deena Kastor (37), or Joan Benoit Samuelson, who ran a 2:49 in the 2008 Olympic Trials as a 50 year old.  Meb’s advice for high school runners is to focus on quality, rather than mileage, in training.


Meb has been using a new recovery beverage called Generation UCAN, which contains a superstarch that keeps blood sugar levels under tighter control to avoid the “spike and crash” effect of other drinks. 

What’s on Meb’s Sony Walkman?

Meb has been using a wireless Sony Walkman on his runs for the last few months.  He said that he has Eminem, Jay-Z, and some African drum music on his Walkman.

Watch for Meb’s Book

Meb has written an autobiography, Run to Overcome, which is due out on Nov. 1.  He has chosen Tyndale House as his publisher.  They are best known for their spiritual and inspirational titles, so that may give us some idea of what to expect from Meb’s book. 

Good luck to Meb Keflezighi in San Jose and New York!

Related Posts:

Meb Keflezighi’s “Run to Overcome”

What the Heck is a SuperStarch?

Interview with Shalane Flanagan


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