NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – The world’s fastest marathon runner and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has enjoyed a dazzling career for the best part of 15 years.
The incomparable Kenyan long distance star says that learning to cope with a high level of expectation is his greatest obstacle.
-Handling the pressure of expectations-
“The greatest challenge of my career has been learning how to handle the pressure. In my younger days, I used to struggle. I couldn’t sleep before races and I couldn’t eat on the morning of my race.
“I used to find the tension before a race really hard. I used to put myself under too much pressure and the tension built up.
“However, it was after I transferred to competing in the marathon that I learned to handle the pressure better. The tension is still there; but now I can eat before a race when I used to get very nervous.
“My coach Patrick Sang told me about the importance of the mind and I put in a number of techniques to support that. One of them was trusting that I had the best training behind me but the other was believing that I was the best.
“When I first moved to the marathon, the pressure was big at the beginning. But I tried to relax before a race and keep my mind free. I won my debut marathon in Hamburg – that was key. I won that race and it gave me a new belief.
“In terms of trusting in my training, I aim for consistency and I treat the sport professionally.
“I have been lucky in that I have not had too many injuries. I’m serious about looking after my body. I do stretching. I’m careful about massage. For a month of every season I carry out gym work. I do the maximum I can to build up good conditioning.
“I maintain my motivation because I want to inspire the youth to like sport. Sport is life, it is healthy. I like running. I set my goals at the beginning of each year
“I have no regrets about my younger career. I don’t look back. I am satisfied I have come to terms with handling the pressure.”