POPSUGAR Celebrity

With These 3 Items, You'll Be Running as Fast as a Pro

Aug 13 2014 - 12:47pm

Let's talk a little about the legacy of Joan Benoit Samuelson. In 1983 (at the age of 26), she set the women's marathon world record for her finish time of 2:22:43 at the Boston Marathon — a course record that would not be bested for 11 years. Then, one year later and just three months after having knee surgery, she became the gold medal winner of the first Olympic women's marathon. Fast-forward to today, and you'll still find Joan coming up on top. This year, Joan, 56, finished the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:52:10 (that's a 6:34 mile for those counting), placing first in her age division.

If you run, it's hard not to be inspired by the perseverance and passion that Joan exhibits in the sport. And because it can't hurt to learn from the best, we wanted to know what her absolute must haves are when she hits the trail (and the one thing she always leaves behind).

Source: Thinkstock [1]

Love It: Goals

"The first must have [in running] is a goal. You need to set a goal for yourself," says Joan. It's a belief that has stuck with Joan her entire career. Case in point: During the 1998 Olympic marathon trials, at the age of 50, she hit her goal of running a mid-2:50s marathon after her retirement from competitive running (which happened in 1991). Her time of 2:49:08 set a new US record in the 50+ age category.

Whether you're just starting out or on your 10th marathon, Joan advises to set your sights on an end goal. It can be finishing every run with a smile, completing your first 5k, or hitting a new marathon personal record.

Love It: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

If you look at photos from Joan in the '80s to those of today, one thing remains a constant: Nike. Like many runners, Joan keeps pace wearing Nike Air Zoom Pegasus [2] ($100). Now in its 31st year of production, the neutral trainer is built to cushion the foot, even after clocking in serious mileage.

Love It: Coffee

Believe it or not, Joan didn't start drinking coffee until she was 50, but now she won't do a long run without first enjoying a cup. Calling it her "performance-enhancing drug of choice," she credits coffee for giving her runs an extra edge. She's right, too. Recent studies indicate that having caffeine before a workout [3] increases endurance and can also ease post-workout muscle soreness.

Leave It: Music

One thing Joan always leaves at home are her earbuds. Running without music may seem unfathomable to many, but Joan says she never listens to music when running. While music can be key when it comes to motivation, taking a break can better allow you to focus on the sound of your breath and foot strike. It also keeps you more aware of your surroundings, whether that be oncoming cars, runners, or cyclists. If you usually run with music, challenge yourself to do the occasional workout without a playlist, and instead of the songs, let the run energize you.

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