As a runner I am wildly interested in every aspect of the sport. The speed and fortitude of marathoners and sprinters alike is amazing and inspiring to witness. With the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China beginning this weekend, I had the privilege of interviewing one of the US’s premier athletes and 400m favorite Olympic Gold Medalist, LaShawn Merritt.
LaShawn is a Virginia native having grown up in Portsmouth, VA just north of Virginia Beach, VA. His first taste of Olympic Gold came at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, competing in the 400m and the 400m relay. His current personal best of 43.74 seconds places him 6th on the list of fastest male runners in the 400m. I am honored he took the time to answer a few questions for Mar on the Run!
Mar: As you head to the IAAF World Championships what are your goals in Beijing?
Lashawn: I want to win the 400m and bring home the gold in the 4x400m relay. I also want to run a personal best in the 400m, but to win it for the U.S. is most important to me.
Mar: Why the 400m?
LM: I like the event because when I was in high school my coach needed someone to run it and no one wanted to run it because it hurt. So he was saying, “Real men run the 400m.” So I accepted the challenge and ever since then, I’ve been running it. And it fits me because I have a long stride and I’m fast with a lot of endurance, so it’s perfect.
Mar: What is your biggest strength as a sprinter?
LM: My biggest strength in the 400m is that I’m the fastest 400m runner over 200m. In an open 200m, I’m the fastest 400m runner in the world, so I’m able to cover the first part of the race a lot easier than others.
Mar: What does your training look like? Any typical workout routine or training partner?
LM: No training partner right now. But right now, I’m in San Diego training at the Olympic training center getting ready for the World Championships.
Mar: Favorite session or training tools?
LM: My NormaTec boots are my favorite because they help me recover faster so I can get quality work in day after day.
Mar: Let’s talk nutrition. Do you have a specific training diet? How do you recover after a workout?
LM: After training I’ll eat salmon. I like fish for after a workout. And then just really hydrating.
Mar: How do you stay motivated?
LM: By knowing that my brother, who passed away, is not here to do anything, it motivates me to continue to work hard because I recognize the gift that I was given.
Mar: How do you mentally prepare for a big event? Any particular words to live by or mantra?
LM: I remind myself to always stay in the present and that I was meant to do this. I don’t do anything really to mentally prepare. When it’s time to go and I’m in the blocks, knowing I was meant to do this for a reason.
Mar: What is your biggest accomplishment or proudest moment?
LM: Winning the Olympics in Beijing was a big accomplishment because you can’t get any higher than an Olympic gold medal.
Mar: On the flip side, what is (or has been) your biggest challenge?
LM: My biggest challenge in the sport has been understanding that different coaches have different philosophies. So trying to figure out what fits me the best has been my biggest challenge. I take a little bit from this coach, a little bit from that coach, just trying to figure out what fits me.
Mar: What activities do you enjoy when not actively training?
LM: Resting, shopping, and spending time with my family.
Mar: If you could race against anyone in history, who would it be and why?
LM: I would want to race against Michael Johnson because he has the world record and he’s the best who’s ever done it so far.
Mar: The majority of my readers are recreational runners, any advice for them?
LM: Just stay hydrated, stay motivated and enjoy it. The one thing about me is I still enjoy the sport. The sky is the limit.
Mar: Looking ahead to Rio in 2016, what are you most looking forward to?
LM: Actually going to Rio. I’ve never been there. And for the last Olympics, I was hurt. So getting back on that world stage at the Olympic Games and representing the USA.
I am excited to watch LaShawn compete this weekend and cannot thank him enough for taking the time to answer a few questions! Please join me in wishing LaShawn luck at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing! The IAAF World Championships will be broadcast on Universal Sports and NBC affiliates August 22 – 30, 2015. Check your local listings for the schedule.
Will you be tuning into the IAAF World Championships? Who is excited for the Summer Games in Rio 2016? Let’s Go LaShawn!!