Looking to increase speed? Champion runner Meb Keflezighi paused to offer our editor tips on training, nutrition, and the mental attitude it takes to run fast.
Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi is among the planet’s fastest distance runners, including an Olympic silver medal and a 2014 victory at the Boston Marathon, where the Eritrean-born American crushed out a 2:08:37 win. This weekend, Meb toes the line at the New York City Marathon.
We caught up with the man himself via his sponsor PowerBar this week for an interview on what it takes to tick off miles at top speed.
GEARJUNKIE: Beyond simply more training, what is the No. 1 thing a runner can do to become faster?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Many runners think they have to have amazing workouts every day in order to improve. That is almost impossible. Solid and consistent training is the key to improvement.
Beyond physical training, what are some mental tips to becoming faster?
Having a routine is very helpful. If you have to think about whether or not you should do a specific stretch or run, you are wasting energy. Be committed to a routine, and your energy will go toward executing the task and achieving your goals.
What are some eating tips?
I’ve had an eating routine since high school: For breakfast, I like to eat a bagel with almond butter; for lunch, a sandwich with fruit; for dinner, the night before a race, I like to have pasta. I also have a 20g PowerBar ProteinPlus bar either as a snack or on course after a hard workout for recovery. My favorite flavor is chocolate peanut butter.
Give us one important gear-oriented tip.
I have never run a race without my compression socks. I have been using them for over 10 years. Compression socks help improve blood circulation and enhance my performance. I use my compression socks everyday; for training runs, short runs, long runs, or even around the house relaxing. They have really helped with my success.
Can running on trails make you faster on the road?
About 80% of my training is done on trails. The good part about trail running is that you recover faster because there is less pounding on your body. So, yes, it can improve performance. There are always obstacles on the trails, but that also helps you with your agility.
Beyond running, what can someone do to become faster?
Recently, I started boogie boarding. I also ride the EIliptiGo as part of my cross training. It is so much fun and very effective! I love to play soccer, but I have put that on hold for fear of injury. Cross training is very important for improvement.
What gadgets might someone use to increase their speed?
I used to do a lot of guessing when I trained. Now, it’s easier. I train using my Epson fitness watch. It tracks my heart rate, pace, distance, elevation dropped and gained.
Meb, how do you stay on pace during a marathon? What do you do during a race if you feel yourself slowing down?
I use my watch to stay on pace during a marathon. If I feel myself slowing down, I’ll grab a PowerGel for energy and start chanting one phrase over and over. For example, when I won the Boston Marathon, I kept saying “Boston Strong, Meb Strong. Boston Strong, Meb Strong.” In most races, I pray and think of my family and support team, too.