Eliud Kipchoge is considered to be the greatest marathon runner, having produced world record times, and continues to be unmatched compared to his competitors. At age 34, he is the first person to ever complete a marathon in less than two hours. If that doesn’t sound impressive enough, let’s break it down. 

A marathon is comprised of a total of 26.2 miles. At the race that took place last Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria, he finished at an astonishing time of 1:59:40. This means he was running at a pace of at least 4 minutes per mile. Impressed? His dedication to his training, his positive mindset, and his simple lifestyle are major contributors to his wildly, unprecedented success.

“In life, the idea is to be happy. So I believe in a calm, simple, low-profile life. You live simple, you train hard and live an honest life. Then you are free.”

Rise and ‘Catch him if you can’

As the sun gets ready to rise over Kaptagat, a village in western Kenya, Eliud begins his day at 5 AM. He rolls over in bed to wake up in a room that he shares with his teammate. Eliud lives away from his wife and three children part-time to be fully immersed in his training. He believes that motivation comes from those that he surrounds himself with as he says:

“You cannot train alone and expect to run a fast time. There is a formula: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. And that’s teamwork. That’s what I value.”

Both he and his team are on a strict training schedule. Every day at 6:10 AM, they begin their morning run. Anyone showing up late gets left behind. They usually run between 10-13 miles at a pace that is comfortable for the group to run together. A comfortable pace is essential to his training and success as he is careful about not overexerting himself. It’s important for him in order to practice “having a relaxed mind” for race day.


Journaling is imperative to his success. He records all of his workouts to track his progress. This athlete has a total of 15 notebooks containing his daily reflections, his workouts, and how he can improve from the day before as he says, “When you write you remember.”

“Every day is in the book, so when he goes to the marathon, he can look back at the last four months and know he has done everything. It gives him the confidence to go and deliver,”

says his manager, Valentijn Trow.

Kenyan Runner’s Diet

As practice ends, he returns to camp to shower, catch up on chores, and to eat. His diet is pretty simple and very plant-focused consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and very little protein. Much of the food that he eats is organic and locally grown, straight from surrounding farms. Most of his meals consist of these staples items: Ugail (a starchy polenta-like side dish), managu, cabbage, bread, rice, eggs, and lots and lots of chai tea. 

Above all, ugail and managu are the most important ingredient to a runner’s diet.  Kenyan runners love Ugail because of its starchy and bland flavor, but more importantly for its energy-boosting carbohydrates. Managu is similar to spinach, and most commonly known African nightshade. It contains vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants making it essential to any athlete. 

Second Run of the Day

After mealtime with his teammates, he spends the rest of the day to rest, relax, and prepare for his final run of the day. You can often find Eliud napping for at least an hour during the afternoon. Waking up refreshed, it’s time for his second practice of the day at 4 PM. During this practice, Eluid sets the pace at a much slower rate compared to the morning run, primarily focusing on focusing on light jogging and stretching to loosen up.

Life is only as good as your mindset

In the evening, he spends time with his teammates, eating dinner, playing games, and sitting down with books. He is an avid reader and a fan of self-help books along with a range of different genres. His favorite book is The Seven Habits of Highly Effect People by Stephen Covey. This book discusses how to better oneself,  create goals, and create a better relationship with oneself.  In addition to these how-tos,  this book dives into the idea of personal perceptions and how it can affect any situation. With these concepts in mind, Eliud carries these ideas with him into race day as feelings of discomfort arise during races. “It’s just a mindset,” he says, as he distracts himself with his passion for running and with what lies ahead- the finish line. 

His trainer, Patrick Sang, describes his approach to running by saying:

“I think it reinforced the values that I always believed in. For an athlete to succeed, hard work pays off, as does trust in the systems that support you. But over and above that, you know, it taught me that what the mind has set to do – if that person believes holistically on the mind and follows the mind – the limits are elastic. You can stretch those limits.”

As the day ends for Kipchoge, he always goes to bed at 9 PM. He is big on rest and recovery, so he makes it a priority to get 8 hours of sleep each day. This Kenyan believes that sleep is the best way to recover not just psychically, but mentally as well. Going to sleep early just means getting to wake up just as early. “The beautiful early mornings in Kenya,” is something he’ll never want to miss. 

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