“26 Marathons” by Meb Keflezighi

This December, we did a gift exchange with friends and I got “26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running and Life from My Marathon Career” by Meb Keflezighi. It did not come as a surprise as it was what I asked for so the next day I started with the book right away.

The backstory of this is that I love running: it had absolutely transformed my life. As cliche as it sounds, with running I learned a lot of patience and perseverance as well as that believing that you can do something is as important as putting in the actual work. I often talk about this to my family and friends but none of them runs as much as I do so it does not always feel like we are on the same page. When I started reading “26 Marathons”, I finally felt like someone is speaking my language!

Meb Keflezighi is one of the most decorated marathon runner in the world – he won the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon and has the medal for the Olympic marathon. It is always easy to get fascinated with someone who is successful – we think that things come easily to them but in reality it is often not true. That’s why I enjoyed reading “26 Marathons” – it gives an honest look at what it is like to be one of them top marathoners in the world including all the successes and struggles.

Lessons From Running

There are 26 lessons in the book that Meb Keflezighi learned from running and how he went through each from his marathons. I have selected some that I can particularly related to:

Marathoners always need to be grounded in reality.

I learned from my personal running experience is that you need to plan your running on that you can do vs. what you want to do. Planning your runs and training based on how you can currently perform is essential to succeeding. I think the hardest element of this is to honestly evaluate where you stand at the moment. We often want to be something or want to achieve something but admitting that we are not there yet is the first important step.

You don’t need to swing for the fences in everything you do. Cruise control can be an effective, low-stress way not only to run your fastest but to reach your full potential in many areas of life.

Preparation, routine and consistency can lead you to success in the long term. I enjoyed how the author explain it so I will quote him:

Doing your best means being dedicated to putting in the work, dedicated to meeting your goals. Often the most effective way to do that is to quietly but consistently go about your business at a sustainable level. Our society tends to celebrate those who take one bold chance, who risk everything at one do-or-die moment. Sure, that can lead to an amazing results. But we don’t usually hear about the people who act that way and fail. In much of life, the better approach is that of a patient investor, steadily building assets over time, as opposed to going for extraordinary returns and risk crashing.

Celebrate your accomplishments but don’t rest on your laurels. Use the momentum from one success to work toward others.

Basically, always stay a learner. Once you succeed in something, set new motivating goals to build on your success.

The marathon is a metaphor for life in how it rewards patience.

This one is extremely relatable for me: running can be frustrating, it can take a lot of time to built up good speed over long distances. To become a good long-distance runner, it takes years. It is tempting to give up, but if you are patient with the process, it will be extremely rewarding at the end:

Taking the long view, putting in the unglamorous daily work, finding joy in the process, saving something for the inevitable challenges – these traits have helped me to be a better husband, father, brother, and friend.

You never know who you are going to touch and what you are doing to learn about yourself when faced with adversity.

Here, I can only quote the author:

Watching someone finish a marathon, you know from your own experience what it took to get there: all those mornings when you overcame the temptation to sleep in rather than run; all those long runs where you willed yourself to keep on moving, and were glad afterwards you did; all those times you headed out the door in search of the best you.

This is just beautifully conveyed – I have an immense respect for every runner: it is tough, it is challenging, it is education for yourself and it is extremely rewarding. And once you know the journey, you cheer for everyone going through.

These were my 5 favourite lessons from “26 Marathons”. There is a lot more and if you are interesting in joining the author on their beautiful journey of running career, I can definitely recommend the book.


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