11 Seconds

As a subscriber to the McMillan Training Plans, and a fan of their website, I receive their regular email newsletters. They’re usually a goldmine of information from coaches and athletes, little sparks of inspiration to spur you along in your training. Sometimes I skim, sometimes I read more in depth, but I always pay attention.

The most recent one I received was one of those ones I pay extra attention to.

It was written by Ben Rosario, McMillan Coach & Coach of Northern Arizona Elite and entitled “11 Seconds – what we can all learn from Meb”. Ben wrote about Meb Keflezighi’s victory at the Boston Marathon this year, and how he earned that hard fought victory by a mere 11 seconds. Less than 1/2 a second per mile.

What an incredibly narrow margin; Ben encouraged the reader to think about how much Meb had to sacrifice since he started running in high school in 1990. What effect those sacrifices had in his day to day life, not knowing that each ice bath, and early morning run would earn him those 11 seconds over the world-class marathoner, Wilson Chebet, who took second place.

What if he’d stayed up late a few nights? What if he’d blown off his diet on vacation? What if he took it easy on some of his tempo runs?

Those 11 seconds could have slipped away from him so easily, but they’re a testament to his dedication and drive.

And so Ben Rosario challenged us all to consider what we were willing to do to achieve our goals. What would our “11 Seconds” ask of us?


“So I think you get it. Of course, very few of you who are reading this are trying to win the Boston Marathon, but I know you have your own goals and they mean something. They really do. Meb said winning Boston made his career 110% complete. I suspect you all have that time, that place, that accomplishment that would make you completely satisfied with your running resume’ (qualifying for Boston for example!). But where are your 11 seconds? What do you have to do to make sure your Wilson Chebet doesn’t catch you from behind? 

Take a pen and paper and make a list. Call it your 11 Seconds List. And use Meb as your inspiration not just on Boston Monday, but everyday!”


And so, with thanks to Meb and to Ben Rosario, here is my 11 Seconds List:

  1. Get 8 hours of sleep at night, at least. Even if that means going to bed immediately after a show.
  2. Eat Clean. Be very careful at the Buffet (my only source of meals aside from sit-down restaurants). If it’s not a whole food, does it belong on your plate?
  3. Be Dedicated. I can’t skip training runs. Each and every one of them has a purpose, and I have to honor the process. Three to four runs per week. Not two. Not one. Only putting in the miles will get me to my goal.
  4. Be accountable to myself, only. This is a tricky one. I feel like I’m “no fun” or “letting people down” when I don’t participate in the shenanigans that goes along with being in a cast on a cruise ship. But I’m the only one who will be running those 26.2 miles in Chicago this October, and my personal goal has to remain more important to me than a couple of hours at a bar.
  5. Try to relax. I need to learn to forgive myself for mistakes and missteps, and move on instead.


So that’s my list. What’s yours? How do you stay focussed during a long training season?