Sunday Runday & Meb for Mortals (Part 1)

As per usual, today was long-run day. I had an 18 mile long-run on the schedule with a goal pace of 7:30 to 7:50. What I actually did was …

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I didn’t quite get the pace that I was supposed to, but I was still very pleased with this run! Given the conditions that we live with here on the gulf coast during the summer, I’ll definitely take it. I made a last minute decision on the fueling for the run, which wasn’t really all that smart. Smart to fuel, yes. Not smart to have not planned it out better. I drank UCAN on the way to the run, when I really should’ve had it an hour or so before we started (it is a time released source of glucose). My pace was definitely fading mid-way through the run, but once the UCAN got into my system, I pepped up and finished the run strong. I really like using the UCAN packets pre-run, because one pouch will sustain you for an entire long run and you don’t have to carry gels. I still get water along the way from random water fountains, bathrooms, spickets on the side of the buildings, etc. but not having to carry gels or a bottle is so nice.

Post-run coffee loft hangs.

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And now, onto the main event here, which is my “review” of ‘Meb for Mortals.’ The word review here is probably not accurate though, as it will be more of a summary. I have a very systematic approach when I read non-fiction books. The first step is to actually read the book. The second step is to go back with a highlighter (and a straight edge, obviously) and mark different things that stood out to me. The last step is to make an outline of the book and type out the things that I highlighted. I know this seems overkill and probably is, but I take away so much more from a book if I do it this way. I can read a book in no time, but I have a much greater chance of learning and retaining the information if I do it this way.

The purpose of ‘Meb for Mortals’ is to show everyday (i.e., mortal) runners how to put into practice the training, nutritional and mental principles that Meb has used throughout his amazing career, which includes an Olympic silver medal in 2004 and winning the 2009 New York City Marathon and the 2014 Boston Marathon.

I’ve had people ask me before why I like running so much or how I fell in love with running. It is almost difficult to answer that if the person doesn’t “get it.” There is an awesome quote in the book that I feel like perfectly conveys my love of running. He writes, “If you’re like me, you appreciate how running improves your life. You like how you feel while you’re running and after a run. You like being healthier and more in control of your destiny. You like the camaraderie and the time alone. You like being outside enjoying nature. You like pushing yourself and the satisfaction that comes from working toward a goal. You like how clear-cut it is, how you get out of it what you put into it. You like that you get to do it on your terms, as casually or seriously as you want. You simply like telling yourself, “I’m a runner.””

Um, 1,000 times yes! I’m sure a lot of runners can identify and would agree that is why we run.

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So, here are some things about ‘Meb for Mortals’ that stood out to me that I thought will be useful to retain.

Meb has three principles that he applies for success in life and in running: good goals, commitment, and hard work. Note that only one of those items is physical (the hard work) and that the other two are psychological. That goes to show us just how important the mental side of running is.

Good Goals

  • Running is well suited to goal setting, because your progress can be quantified and tracked.
  • A good goal should have personal meaning. It should be something you want to do for yourself, not just to meet someone else’s expectations. He says, “Let your running be about your own hopes and dreams.”
  • A good goal is specific. Goals such as I want to run well or run faster are more subjective and harder to measure, which also means that you might not feel as accomplished when you progress towards the ambiguous goal.
  • A good goal is challenging but realistic, requiring you to reach outside of your comfort zone but staying within the realm of possibility.
  • A good goal has a time limit. He notes that 3 to 6 months is a good range for most running goals, but also recommends setting yearly and longer-term goals as well. He suggests that you keep track of your training with a log so that you can evaluate your progress each week and stay focused on your goals.
  • He recommends having several goals going into a race, staring with your ultimate goal and working downward to several other potential outcomes that would also still be worthy accomplishments.

Commitment

  • He says that having a good goal is the first step and that the hard work is how you reach that goal, but the hard work doesn’t just happen because you have a goal. It comes through commitment.
  • He says that commitment means living your life in a way that makes you better prepared to meet your goals. This comes by regularly making decisions that contribute to, rather than detract from, your goals.
  • He talks in terms of making choices, not sacrifices. He says that the word sacrifice has a negative connotation and that thinking that you are denying yourself of something can make your goals feel more like burdens. He says that choice has a connotation of working towards something that is important to you. Thinking of your decisions as choices, not sacrifices, gives the feeling that you’re in control.
  • He writes, “Just as the marathon is about patience, life is about overcoming obstacles and having patience. Marathons and other successes teach us delayed gratification. The journey sometimes brings out the best in us. Start with one step at a time, then 1 mile at a time, and you will see how far you can go.”
  • Success comes from peace of mind, knowing that you have given it your all and done your best.

Hard Work (I plan to break up this final principle, which is where a lot of the meat of this book is, into separate posts).

  • Training
  • Racing
  • Fueling
  • Strengthening, stretching and cross-training
  • Recovering

What goals are you working towards currently? I’d love to hear about them!

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10 thoughts on “Sunday Runday & Meb for Mortals (Part 1)

  1. I’m glad I found this blog! My goals are maintain/increase my glute strength in order to prevent an injury relapse and to slowly increase my mileage. I just recovered from a fifth month IT Band and lower bank injury. :/

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  2. Man, I wish you could’ve heard him speak back in May. He was amazing! He sees every run as a gift. Let’s try to remember that when we get into the 20 milers with 100% humidity! 🙂

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  3. Great time/pace on the 18 miler. It’s been warmer here in Chicago so I am not looking forward to my longer runs.

    I’ve heard of UCAN and remember Rebecca telling me about it. I remember buying a starter pack or something like that but now need to see if I still have any packets left.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Meb a few years back during the RnR Chicago Half Marathon expo. However, I was so nervous that I couldn’t really talk to him but instead he talked to me but cannot remember what he said. I just remember him smiling.

    My goal right now if to finish and PR at the Chicago Marathon.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, the longer runs are definitely getting to be a bit challenging. You’ve got some fun, hot training ahead of you for Chicago! Meb was here in town a couple of months back, but I was out of town and didn’t get to meet him. I was majorly bummed about that. Good luck with your training!

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  4. Sam, I LOVE his book! Like you, I found so much everyday wisdom and inspiration in what he shares; it’s so nice to see professional, elite athletes sharing their own struggles and presenting themselves more as “mortals” to the rest of us – ha! Great job on your run; the weather here has been brutal, so I can’t even imagine. I was thankful to get through ten last Saturday! I’ve thought about trying UCAN for my long runs; it’s tough for me to get anything down (gels, chews, etc) in this heat and I wonder if this might be a good option. You just take one packet before your run (like an hour before?) and that’s it? That would be nice…

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    1. Yes! I’m the same way on the gels or shot blocks. They just don’t appeal to me at all mid-run. There are a couple different varieties of the UCAN. I know there is one that is balanced with protein/carbs and one that is mainly carbs (there are lots of flavors of each of these as well, I’m just talking about the actual nutritional makeup). I drink the protein one an hour before my long runs and it lasts the whole run. In the last marathon I did, I did the same thing and then I drank another packet of just the carb mixture around mile 16 and I was good to go. No (big) crash and I felt fantastic afterwards, which was a first! They are very easy on the stomach too. I definitely recommend trying them to see. Sounds like they might work well for you as well!

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      1. Okay, thank you so much for the info and recommendation, Sam. I may just order a few packets of each (the protein one + the carbs-only one) and try them out. I would love to get through a long run/race and not have to eat anything!!

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