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(psychologytoday.com) Meb Keflezighi: A Champion Marathoner's Mindset

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Thursday, 07 June 2018

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/widows-guide-healing/201806/meb-keflezighi-champion-marathoners-mindset

Meb Keflezighi: A Champion Marathoner's Mindset

How to think like a champion runner.

Posted Jun 06, 2018



Today, June 6, 2018 is Global Running Day, and for those of you who are runners, you know running is not just about the miles you run. Running is also about conditioning and strengthening the mind to overcome physical injures, less than perfect times, and the infamous "wall". In honor of this day, I thought I would share parts of my May 2018 interview with one of the world's most accomplished marathoners Meb Keflezighi(link is external).  

My first encounter with Meb was in November 2017, one day before he was racing the New York City Marathon. It was well publicized as the last professional marathon in Meb's celebrated running career. Before the actual race, Meb did dozens of media appearances, and by the afternoon of one of his final events, there was slight fatigue on his face.  

Last month, I met Meb with 7 Continent Marathoner Michael Silvio(link is external), in Indianapolis, Indiana . Immediately, I noticed Meb appeared more relaxed than in November. This time, instead of racing a full marathon as a professional, he was here to run one of the largest half-marathons, the Indy Mini.(link is external) Running a lap on the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway is part of the course, and runners receive a finisher medal with Meb's signature.

Throughout the conversation, Meb's sense of humor, humility, and quick wit were evident. 

Meb's background is one that may surprise you. In his early childhood, he lived in war torn Eritrea without electricity or running water. Meb became no stranger to scarcity. He recalls, "I ate dirt to survive. My family came from nothing ... Tenacity is part of my upbringing." 

Eventually, Meb's family became refugees from Eritrea to Europe, and later, without speaking any English they moved to the United States of America. Meb attended college at UCLA on a distance running scholarship, something of a rarity at the time.  At one of Meb's New York City Marathon media appearances that I attended, he talked about how his family's impact shaped his life. And when asked about his college years, Meb said, "Academics was first, but running is my gift." 

During college, Meb not only excelled at running, winning collegiate titles, but also set business goals for himself- the first of which was obtaining an athletic sponsor.  The college student wrote letters to Nike, Reebok, Asics, hoping to get their attention, but was met with rejection. Instead of hopelessness, Meb saw this as a challenge. His face lights up with determination when talks about this, "I knew then, I would have to go and win."

Meb Keflezighi- Used With Permission
Source: Meb Keflezighi- Used With Permission

By winning, Meb meant he understood his training would intensify and setbacks could ensue, but he persisted through painful injuries. At age 29, he earned an Olympic silver medal in 2004, followed by winning the 2009 Boston Marathon. A decade after his Olympic medal, Meb won the 2014 New York City Marathon. Along the way, he gained brand name sponsors, like Sketchers, wrote the book "Run to Overcome"(link is external) followed by the New York Times best-seller Meb For Mortals(link is external) with Scott Douglas. 

In his second book, Meb for Mortals, Meb shares his mode of thinking right before a race begins. He writes, "Right before the gun goes off, I'm in meditation mode....May the best man or woman win today. I hope I'm the most prepared one, but if somebody has worked harder than me, then they deserve to win." 

The future, Meb says, includes writing � his next book with Scott Douglas about the lessons he learned running 26 marathons and winning three of those, is due out in 2019, around the time of the Boston Marathon � speaking, playing soccer with his three daughters, and of course running. He adds, "When I'm running, I'm free."


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