The New York Times

The New York Times 1 Nov 2019

How a 46-Year-Old Marathon Runner Keeps Getting Faster


In a cluttered world of boutique fitness studios and high-end gear, Guillermo Piñeda Morales reminds us that we don't need much to be our best.

In the Video Op-Ed above, we trail Guillermo Piñeda Morales, a.k.a. Memo. He clocked a 2:28:42 at this year's Boston Marathon, placing him in the top 10 marathon runners for his age group globally. That's very fast.

The American fitness industry is worth $30 billion, but Memo's not in on the trend. He won't pop up in your Instagram #fitspo feed and you won't get a glimpse of him at your gym. But if you're at the New York City Marathon this Sunday — or if you have a resolution to run a marathon next year — Memo is likely to be whizzing past you.

What's Memo's trick? Well, you can find that in the video. But it's far simpler and cheaper than anything else out there.

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… show captions ↓
This is Memo.
Memo runs far, and Memo runs fast.
And somehow, he gets faster with age.
"Surprise for me too." Today,
Memo is one of the top 10 runners in the world
for his age group.
He’s also a porter in an apartment building
in Queens, New York.
We’ll come back to that later. Memo believes
in three things: Hard work, never giving up, and —
Fine. Two things.
The American fitness industry is worth over $30 billion a year.
That’s a lot of fancy gear and gym memberships.
But Memo doesn’t believe in gadgets.
This is Memo’s heart monitor.
This is Memo’s gym.
This is Memo's nutrition plan.
And this is Memo's locker.
Memo doesn't believe in swanky gyms or boutique-y yoga
He doesn’t believe in self-promotion,
even though there would be a lot to promote.
You know what Memo really believes in?
Memo believes in running.
In Santa Ana Cotapec, where Memo grew up,
he was an average runner on a pretty average team.
And Memo lived a pretty average life
for a kid in that town.
Memo crossed the border illegally at age 15.
He did find work in America, in a kitchen and
as a bike messenger.
And he ran his first marathon in 1995. A year later,
he was arrested and sent to jail.
In 2005, Memo passed his citizenship test
and became an American citizen.
By 2019,
he became a top-10 runner globally in his age group
and the second-fastest American in his age group.
Now Memo works in Rego Park as a porter.
"I made those signs.
"Memo took them down one by one.
"He doesn't like to advertise how great of a runner he is."
On November 3rd, Memo will take the day off
to run the New York City Marathon.
He’s on track to run faster than ever.
Memo reminds us that we’re being sold and packaged
something that’s free.
Achievement doesn’t come from a sports brand or the latest
high-tech gizmo.
Just ask Memo.
He believes in just three —
Right, two things.
That's the Memo method.

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