Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Olympic marathon silver medalist (and really nice guy) Meb Keflezighi. Okay, it wasn't over coffee as I had hoped (RocknRoll AZ Expo), but I did get the chance to ask a few of my burning questions as well as enlisting the help of my Facebook friends and readers to ask the questions they would want to know if they were having coffee with Meb. Thanks to Meb for his time and to everyone that asked really great questions. Here is what he had to say…
Coach Jenny: You have three girls (1, 3, and 5-years old). They say that kids will follow in their parents foot tracks. Do your kids run?
Meb: My kids like to run but I don't make them run. They stretch with me and run around with me and we play a lot together. Seeing is believing and your kids will mimic the environment you put them in. If it's a good environment where their parents are active, they will be active. If they don't have active role models, the risk for inactivity is great.
Coach Jenny: What tips would you give parents for getting their kids moving?
Meb: With my foundation (Meb Foundation), I want to teach kids the importance of health, fitness, education, and balance. The key is to have fun and play and hour a day and to provide your kids the opportunity to get outside and move. Also be mindful of other ways to bond the family together by walking the kids to school, watching what they are eating in and out of school and providing a balanced schedule that allows time for movement every day. Everyone is busy, but we all need to take a deep breath and just do it.
Coach Jenny: Your new book Run to Overcome is an amazing journey into your life, that takes you from the adversity of living in a war-torn African country to winning the New York City Marathon after coming back from having a pelvic stress fracture. What life lessons have you learned along the way?
Meb: From running, you learn patience. I'm not going to win every race, but I now if I stick with my goals and have patience, good things will come. You may not get the first job or that promotion but if you practice, relax, rehearse and give it your all, you will succeed. I've learned to focus on what I do best, set goals, and have faith in my preparation. Nothing happens overnight and it takes time to run, to improve, to reach your goals.
Janet Vessler: I noticed that you wear the Sony Walkman so you must listen to music when you run. What are some of your favorite tunes for running?
Meb: I like a little bit of everything [big laugh] – Beyonce, Eminem, and 50 Cent.
Lori Mitchener: What is your take on the barefoot movement?
Meb: I started running barefoot because I didn't have a choice. But now I wear shoes and balance with a little barefoot running on the grass to keep my feet strong. Everyone is different and you have to work with what works for you. My advice would be to do it a little at a time if you're going to try it.
Jinan Mantash: Do you have any mantra's for the later stages of the race when things are really tough?
Meb: I pray. Both in my native language and in English. It allows me to focus and stay in the moment.
Terri Tessmann: What motivates you?
Meb: My God-given talent. We all have talents and I feel like mine is running and I want to honor it and do my best.
Amy Parker-Perry: What was your toughest race and why?
Meb: 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City - At the end of the day, I was favored to win the trials and make the team. The passing of my good friend Ryan Shay in the race physically, mentally and emotionally devastated me. That is why I say never give up because that wasn't my day. Mine came two years later.
Maryanne Barra: What one piece of advice would you give to a runner who is thinking of running their first marathoner?
Meb: Build up the base, be patient and set the goal. Pace yourself in the race. It is better to pick it up at the end than to be picked off by other runners.
Amber Crews: How long do you sleep? Do you use ice baths and massage?
Meb: If I can sleep at least 7-8 I'm good. I include ice baths during high mileage weeks (130-140 miles per week) and massage twice per week. When you're pushing your body, you have to invest in a solid recovery plan.
John Senger: What is your favorite place to vacation?
Meb: I’ve never taken a vacation in my life. I’m a professional runner, and I run wherever I go I usually travel for competition, training or appearances related to running. But I would like to vacation in Copenhagen or Brussels. These are a couple amazing places I’ve been to in my running career and would love to spend more time at sometime in the future.
Joseph Carswell: If you could do it all over again, would he change anything?
Meb: I am very happy with what I have accomplished in my career and the way I have conducted myself. But there is always room for improvement. Here’s a few things that come to mind: I wish I could have done altitude training at the start of my professional career and also would have gotten more massage therapy. I’ve done a lot of altitude training and get massage therapy regularly, however I think I could have benefited from more earlier on in my career.
Sue Kessner: What is your next race and what are your goals for it?
Meb: I am aiming for the 15K USA Championships or a half marathon sometime in March. Goal is to win and run faster than I have before.