Following a string of victories over 26.2 miles, including his triumph at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and a world record-breaking performance at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge is widely regarded as the greatest marathon runner of all time.
The 34-year-old has learned a lot during his long career and here he outlines what he would tell a younger version of himself.
You don’t realise it yet, but growing up on a farm in rural Kenya will help you develop skills that will take you far in the sport of athletics.
From a young age, you already possess a good work ethic and self-discipline. Each day you help fetch water from the river for your mother and take care of the farm animals.
You are also a good student. You enjoy school. You always work hard and are keen to give of your best. These are the principles you will later transfer to your running career.
You always prioritise training and do what is required. You never postpone your duties.
Eliud, you will also be very fortunate in the early days of your career. You show great initiative by approaching world and Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Patrick Sang for a training programme.
Without question, you will then follow his training regime for the next 17 years. It will prove an inspired decision.
Patrick will act as far more than a coach to you. He will become a mentor, life coach and a father-figure to you. He will lift you to world and Olympic titles and world records; heights that were beyond your comprehension as a youngster.
Besides the great people you will go on to meet, you will also develop a passion for books, which will equip you with skills that will help your career. You are particularly keen on self-help books and autobiographies, and one book in particular – Who Moved My Cheese? – is a publication you’ll refer back to again and again. The book is just as relevant to a businessman or an athlete but is very helpful in helping you cope with periods of change.
Eliud, you will learn to live in a growing and developing world. Social media will later arrive and although you are initially wary, you will learn to embrace it. You will grow to understand as a marathon runner it is a great means to introduce people into your world and to inspire.
Over time your training will become more sophisticated. Later in your career you will carry out regular strength and core stability exercises which will strengthen the body. But I would not advise you to start these exercises any earlier; this is just how your career has developed.
So keep on doing what you are doing, Eliud. You will make some great decisions which will allow your career to flourish in a way you could not have possibly imagined as a youngster growing up in the Kenyan Highlands.
Steve Landells for the IAAF