Marathon Tips from Olympians Amy Cragg, Meb Keflezighi, and Desiree Linden



About two weeks ago, Christina Marcuson (left) and Katie Ormson (right) attended a Fleet Feet Chicago event on behalf of Another Mother Runner. They weren't there shopping for new shoes, though; they were attending "Breaking Through the Wall," a panel discussion with an expert crowd that included Olympic marathoners Amy Cragg (middle; above); Meb Keflezighi, and Desiree Linden. (Um, can you say awesome!)

Christina, an army wife, has four children: ages 25, 21, 16, and 14. "I went back to school recently so I am struggling with finding time to train," she says, "However, running is my 'me time' and I need it to remain sane in the chaos of my life!" She's taking on her first marathon in Las Vegas at the end of November.

Meb told Christina he LOVED her tee, and was wondering where he could buy one. #kidding

A mom of three, Katie is training for her 15th half-marathon—the Cocoa Beach Half-Marathon—and has been a runner since high school. "I have been a runner since high school, but I just starting racing in the last 4 years," she says, "I ran my half PR in Wisconsin in May of this year of a 1:54. I just turned 50, and am getting faster as I get older!"

Christina and Katie took notes for the AMR tribe so fall marathoners can have their best races yet!

The expert panel lasted 90 minutes.
The expert panel lasted 90 minutes.

Make a List:
  Amy Cragg makes a pre-race list that goes into documents everything down to what stretches she’ll do and when. I—Christina— believe developing a detailed checklist would help me manage some of my anxiety about tackling my first marathon. Actually, I feel I need a couple of checklists: Packing, Food, and Training. I have been thinking about developing these checklists ever since I left the event and I already feel like the marathon is more manageable. Whew.

And Check it Twice: Amy’s detailed list contains what and exactly when she will eat and drink, all the gear she will need, transportation modes, who she needs to speak with pre-race. (I'm pretty sure it also contains when she needs to poop, but she avoided giving us that detail.)  The benefit of her prep? She able to relax and keep anxiety to a minimum, knowing she is doing all she can to be at her best when she toes the starting line.

Desiree Linden eats her Wheaties with a laugh.

Control the Control-ables: That’s Desiree Linden’s mantra on race morning. A hot, sunny day (not a controllable!) at Grandma's, my—Katie's—last marathon should have told me to reduce my race expectations, but I had trained so hard and was so ready for a fast race that I let an ‘uncontrolable’ get the best of me and ended up with my slowest marathon time. Lesson learned, I hope.

Laugh. I—Katie— can definitely get behind Desi’s way of staying relaxed on race morning: having breakfast with the funniest person she can find.

It’s not just about the miles (Christina): : All three runners agreed that to be your best, you have to be diligent about training, sleep, and diet. We need all three legs of the stool or it will not stand. And the most important part of all three? Consistency. One good meal doesn't counteract a week of bad eating, nor does 8.5 hours of shuteye one night make up for too many 1 a.m. bedtimes. Frankly, I—Christina—have been focusing all of my energy on the training and I let my diet and sleep falter.  Glad I have a little more time before I go 26.2.

The marathoners reliving the Meb: push-ups at the Rio finish line.

Send Your Energy Elsewhere. Meb, sweet Meb talked about how he likes to joke around, pray and relax before a race. Encouraging others is also something that brings him joy. Having the ability to keep others relaxed and enjoying the race experience has the pay it forward ability to keep Meb enjoying the experience as well.

Amy Cragg: all smiles post-Rio. (Hey: a 9th place finish would leave one on my face for years!)

Know Your Why. Desi Linden revealed only 10% of her races were good, which means 90% of the races she had to push herself through to the finish. Wow! This was my “ah-ha” moment. I—Christina—cannot only focus on the mechanics of my body and specifics of the race, but why I choose to run in the first place. This translates into tapping into the mental stamina that I need to finish my first marathon.

Part of my why comes from my husband. When he was deploying overseas for the first time, he left me a note that said, “You are stronger than you think”.  I thought maybe I am and I can survive a year with four kids alone. Now I run to keep proving to myself that I am strong enough and to push the boundaries of that strength.  Recently, my husband told me that he is deploying again in January. I guess 2017 will be another full year of running for me!

Your turn: What are some of your best marathon tips? 

2 responses to “Marathon Tips from Olympians Amy Cragg, Meb Keflezighi, and Desiree Linden

  1. For those with sensitive stomachs, it is vital to practice your fueling during training. Also having a 2-3 days out plan of what you are going to consume is critical.

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