NAIROBI, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge believes a perfect start to his marathon career in Hamburg is the key to his success in the ultimate distance.
However, he said that it was tough and difficult for him to cope with the pressure of an elite athlete on the track than it is in road racing, something he attributes to experience and self-belief. “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,” Kipchoge told IAAF in Eldoret in a recent interview. Now Kipchoge believes he has what it takes to take the world record to his name, having only lost once in Berlin in 2013, when he returns to the German capital on Sept. 24.
Kipchoge, who is also the world’s fastest marathon runner, 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. “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,” he said. But lack of inspiration and competition in 10,000 and 5,000m races on the global championship circuit pushed Kipchoge to tilt over to the road racing and has done well in the marathon distance since his debut in 2012. “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,” he added.
Kipchoge puts his success and sobriety down to his coach Patrick Sang, the former steeplechase runner. “My coach 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. In terms of trusting in my training, I aim for consistency and I treat the sport professionally,” he added. But like any athlete, his worst nightmare will be unforeseen injury. “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.”