Welcome to our seven-part “You Can Run a Marathon” series in partnership with the Ali on the Run Show podcast! It’s all about getting you through training and to the start line of your first or next 26.2-mile race. Whether you’re training for your first, your fastest, or your funnest, we’re here to help you reach your goals.
Who’s “we?” In this series, Ali chats with professional and elite runners about their training and races, as well as experts who can answer all of your questions about training, fueling, and just how many 20-mile runs you should be doing before you start to taper.
This is a very special episode of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series because it was recorded live in front of a fantastic audience at Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City. Meb Keflezighi is the only person to ever win the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon, and Olympic silver medal. Runner’s World named him The Most Influential Person in Running, and he’s the author of several books, including Meb for Mortals and 26 Marathons. On this episode, Meb reflects on his career on the run, talks about what he’s learned about life and running and how they intersect, and shares whether there’s any chance we might see him at the start line of the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in February. He also shares the story of getting a congratulatory phone call from President Obama after winning the 2014 Boston Marathon and dining with the Obamas a few weeks later.
At 41 years old, Dawn Grunnagle is proof that you can, in fact, keep getting faster with age. Dawn is a Nike-sponsored professional 1500-meter runner turned master’s marathoner. (Before going pro, she spent 10 years teaching third and fourth graders. Aw!) She has qualified for the Olympic Trials three times: first in 2012 in the 1500m and then in 2016 and 2020 in the marathon. Last year, she ran a 2:34 personal best time — but the road to OTQ glory hasn’t been easy or pretty for Dawn. On this episode, she talks about her earliest marathon days, which involved a lot of porta-potties and puking. (Relatable!) She talks about how she chipped away at her time over the years, going from a 2:49 to a 2:34, and talks about her adventures in fueling. (Key takeaway: Just because it works for someone you admire doesn’t mean it will work for you!) Dawn is currently training for the 2019 Berlin Marathon.
Molly Bookmyer is a 2:44 marathoner who recently finished third in the U.S. 25K championships. But the road to an Olympic Trials qualifying time hasn’t been easy. On this episode, Molly shares her inspiring story of resilience and positivity. In 2013, Molly’s doctors found a brain tumor and needed to perform brain surgery to remove it. Then, she suffered a seizure while running on the treadmill, and had to have a second brain surgery. After recovering, getting healthy, and getting back on the run, Molly and her now-husband got married. But one week after returning from their honeymoon, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Molly is a force to be reckoned with, on the run and beyond.
Not too long ago, Mo Alkhawaldeh was a casual smoker. Today, he’s a 2:23 marathoner with his sights set on representing his home country of Jordan in the 2020 Olympic Games. But although Mo is one of the top-ranked runners in the Middle East and Africa, he’s not a full-time runner: He works full-time at Princeton University, where he’s also the head coach of the Princeton Running Club. He gets his training done before and after work — elite marathoners, they’re just like us! In 2015, Runner’s World named Mo one of the 50 most influential people in running. Mo, who is coached by Ryan Hall, is currently training for the Berlin Marathon, where he hopes to run a 2:18.
Chirine Njeim is a four-time Olympian — but the four times she’s represented her home country of Lebanon haven’t all been on the run. Chirine is a former alpine ski racer turned marathon runner. She competed at the Winter Olympics three times, and in 2016 made her Summer Olympics debut in the marathon. Today, Chirine is a 12-time marathoner who has taken her time from 3:07 to 2:39. Chirine lives in Chicago, where she works full-time and trains with the Second City Track Club. On this episode, she shares how a fun run at the Shamrock Shuffle 8K changed her life, and what her training looks like right now as she gears up for the 2019 Chicago Marathon.
The series kicks off with Olympian Alexi Pappas. Alexi is a middle-distance runner turned marathoner. She made her 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 Chicago Marathon, and on this episode, she’s honest about how humbling this distance is for runners of all levels. She talks about her own fueling strategies, what she’ll do differently leading up to her next race, and what advice she’s received from the legendary Deena Kastor.