Interview with an Elite Runner

Happy Weekend! Hope it’s off to a good start for you all! I was able to see some great friends last night, and more of that today- so it’s going pretty well for me so far. I am starting to become less motivated to run in this cold weather, and know that I am not alone! Today’s post will include some extra motivation for you as you tackle your running goals, or any other goals you may have.

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I was able to interview with American elite runner Fernando Cabada, who offered a glimpse into the life of an elite runner. Cabada ran a 2:12:27 marathon debut in Fukuoka, Japan in 2006, won the Twin Cities marathon in 2008 with a time of 2:16:32, ran a 2:18:23 Boston Marathon in 2013, and ran an incredible 2:11:36 Berlin marathon in the fall of 2014. He most recently placed second in the Jacksonville FL half with a time of 1:03:25. Talk about fast!

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2013 Boston Marathon: Fernando Cabada in front of pack of elite runners mile 1. Source

But there is more to Fernando’s story than running. Born into childhood of poverty, the offspring of Mexican immigrants, he started running in grade school and quickly learned that he had an incredible talent. As the New York Times indicated, since then, Cabada had powerful motivation to continue running and “transcend the confines of his background”. Cabada told the NYT, “You don’t get points for poverty…You just have to work harder. Running taught me that, and it has saved my life. You don’t have to win, but you do have to persevere. And I won’t give up.” He continued, “I didn’t always win growing up, and I don’t even always win now,” he said. “But I have perseverance, and I won’t give up. And I’m still getting better.”

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I caught Fernando in the midst of his training for the Olympic Trials in the marathon distance, held in LA on February 13th. Enjoy the interview!

Question: What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?

Answer: I love to eat chicken parmesan for dinner the night before races. I love to eat anything Mexican after!

Question: The majority of the USA is approaching cold winter months. This means that it will be harder to run outside and stay motivated. If you ever feel unmotivated to get out the door, what tips or tricks do you use to push yourself? Also do you brave the poor weather conditions or stick indoors/on the treadmill?

Answer: I often feel unmotivated at times for my runs, especially the second run of the day. I just remind myself what I am training for, normally it’s a big race, and I quickly find motivation. I run outside mostly and maybe a dozen times or so I will run on a treadmill in the winter. Whatever it takes to get the run in- there is no shame running on a treadmill.

Question: What cross training do you incorporate into your running routine, if any? Do you focus more on cross training in the off season (if there is an off season for you!), or do you tend to cross train throughout the entire training cycle?

Answer: I just focus on running and don’t do much of cross training. When it’s time to take a break which is about a month of the year, I don’t run.

Question: You are an incredible runner who has done really well on the marathon scene for the last few years. However, when faced with a rare but disappointing race finish or workout, how do you pick up and motivate yourself to try again? Is there a specific running mantra that has helped you pull through disappointment?

Answer: Thank you for the compliment! I for sure have had a fair share of “disappointing” races. The only way to feel better is to get back up and get back to racing as soon as possible. It’s worked for me.

Question: What is your weekly mileage in peak marathon training season? What is your mileage in your off-season, if any?

Answer: My weekly mileage is about 105-110 miles at peak marathon training. For off season and focusing on half marathons, etc., my mileage is about 85-90 miles. I don’t like to run a lot of junk miles, I don’t like to double more than 4 times a week either.

Question: What is your number one method for injury prevention?

Answer: I just make sure I wear stability shoes since I over pronate and stretch the heck out of my calves.

Question: What are three activities you enjoy doing apart from running?

Answer: I love to eat chicken pho, watch movies at the theaters, and coach my athletes.

Question: What are three words that describe how you feel when you’re out running?

Answer: I feel alive.

Question: If you were young Fernando again just starting out with your high school running team– what is one thing you would do over?

Answer: I started out in 1991 when in elementary school (4th grade). When I was in high school I never won a California State Meet Championship, that’s one thing I would change.

Question: What is one word you would say to someone who has just started running– whether it be a young high-school student as you were when you started out, or an older individual- about why running is worth it?

Answer: One word!?! “Freedom!”

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Readers, who wants to lace up their shoes and get outside or to the gym?

What’s in store for your weekend? Any races or long runs? I have 20 miler #3 out of 5 this weekend! It is going to be rainy on Sunday, the only day I can run. I think I will run part of the run inside, and part outside. Then I am vegging out for the rest of the day!

When did you start running? What has motivated you to continue? Tell us your story!

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23 thoughts on “Interview with an Elite Runner

  1. I started running in 2009, one year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. At the time of my diagnosis, I promised to beat the disease and then run a marathon the following year (I’d never been a runner of any sort before). Once I started, as so many find, I found I enjoyed running and the challenge of training for races. This April, I’ll be running my 11th marathon (all post-cancer) when I run the Boston Marathon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Boston is where I grew up, so I am excited for this more than any race I’ve run before.

    Thanks for your blog and good luck getting that 20-miler in tomorrow! For me it’s an easy 8-mile run (or, as I call it, a “real slim shady).”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible, inspiring story. You are so strong, both mentally and physically. It’s incredible that you’ve run 10 Boston’s, training for the 11th! I am looking forward to hearing how the training and race go- best of luck! Hope the 8 miler went well :)

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  2. I started running in May of 2015 after receiving a 2X Buckeyes jersey as a gift. I’ve always been a weightlifter so I wear a 3X. I decided it was time to slim down and forget about being the big dude. I downloaded Couch to 5K and the next thing you know, I’m running a half marathon 5 months later. My 2015 goal was to just Finish. This year I’m learning my paces and training for my first full marathon.

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  3. Very interesting interview. I find it fascinating how many of us running are battling demons. Perhaps all of us in one way or another.

    I started running when I was 29. I figured if my 49 year old mother can run her 5th Marathon I’d better get cracking. Truthfully though I found I loved it. I love the discomfort of pushing myself and discovering what I am capable of. I am an alcoholic and have spent the majority of my life believing I was shit and capable of nothing but. Running showed me I could accomplish something.

    8.9 miles today, post-holing through snow. 6 miles tomorrow with some buddies and playtime with the family. Sounds like a solid weekend.

    Enjoy your run and thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes it’s amazing how running can change your mindset- it’s my drug. Great job getting in the 8.9 miles and good luck with the 6! It’s pouring today in Boston and I’ve been putting off getting outside but I just need to layer up and do it! Getting out the door is sometimes the hardest part!

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  4. Thank you for sharing the interview! I especially love his great attitude. He never used his poor upbringing as an excuse to do poor in life. He didn’t expect pity either: he just worked harder.
    I started running mid 20s after a series of life setbacks and failures. (Think: college dropout, divorce, poor upbringing, yada yada) So I decided I wanted to finish something. I registered for a 5k and the rest is beautiful history!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Jess. I think we can all gain inspiration from Fernando and each other. Running is a true outlet and I agree with his statement about giving him freedom. It’s amazing how that can make you feel and how it can change your life.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice article Jane. Loved the reading about the inside of the mind of an elite runner. Hope the 20miler went well.
    I’ve got sore knees from my 24miler yesterday. Didn’t stop me doing my 10k this morning though lol.
    Keep keeping on.
    K

    Liked by 1 person

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