Kenyan superstar Eliud Kipchoge is the world record-holder and Olympic champion in the marathon.
On 12 May he took part in an exclusive webinar with the Athlete365 community, where he advised you on staying focused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the other webinars in our series with Olympic Champions on their advice, their story, and their challenges.
To compliment the resources available on Athlete365 to empower and support you, we are delivering a series of webinars in the coming weeks, providing new opportunities for you to engage with the Athlete365 community. The first webinar in this exciting series took place on 12 May with none other than Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic champion who in October became the first athlete to run a sub-two-hour marathon.
The webinar was moderated by Olympian and broadcaster Jeanette Kwakye, who kicked off the discussions with Eliud and put the participants’ questions to him. The only place to start was COVID-19, and how Eliud has responded to the postponement of his planned defence of his London Marathon and Olympic titles.
WE HAVE MANY COURSES IN THE WORLD – FLT COURSES, UPHILL AND DOWNHILL – AND THE PERIOD OF COVID-19 IS LIKE AN UPHILL COURSE, WHERE WE NEED TO LIVE IN A SLOW WAY, IN A POSITIVE WAY, IN ORDER TO FINISH THE RACE WELL.
Embracing the challenge
“When all of this started, personally I was in shock,” he explained, showing that even the biggest stars of them all have had trouble coming to terms with the effects on the sporting calendar.
“Some races were postponed, including the London Marathon, and then everywhere closed in Kenya. We thought this thing would go very fast, and that we would resume again for the Olympics. But two weeks down the line, the Olympics was postponed too. I had to go away to think; and to come back and say: ‘This is a challenge!’
“I’m a marathoner, and the marathon is like life,” he continued. “We have many courses in the world – flat courses, uphill and downhill – and this period of COVID-19 is like an uphill course, where we need to live in a slow way, in a positive way, in order to finish the race well.”
Helping other athletes
Eliud revealed that he has maintained a strict training regime during lockdown, but has adjusted his programme to focus more on strength work and long runs rather than speed and tactics, as he continues to communicate with his coach, Patrick Sang, via WhatsApp. He also revealed that he has been working with the Kenyan government and enlisting the support his sponsors to deliver food packages to lower-level athletes in Kenya, to give them the fuel required to continue their training and help their families.
“Our country right now is totally upside down,” Eliud explained to the Athlete365 community, as he showcased the power of athletes to be positive role models during this global health crisis.
“We have many athletes in Kenya, and for 80% of them what puts food on their table – and for their families – is participating in races in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australasia for financial means. That’s what they were relying on. So last week, we provided about 70 athletes from five counties in Kenya with food for the whole month.”
Many questions came in from participants during the half-hour webinar about topics such as nutrition and mental strength, and also about the lessons Eliud has learned from living in lockdown.
“Lesson number one is that we can travel the whole world, but the most important thing is your family,” he responded. “You need to go back to your family and take care of your family. That’s one thing that lockdown has reminded me. They are still my motivation to go out at 5 am for a run.
“Secondly, we need to be patient. And thirdly, we need to respect the directives of our local governments, and of the whole world. Altogether, if we think positive then we can beat COVID-19 and the world will return to normal.”
To conclude the webinar, Jeanette asked Eliud for his message to the Athlete365 community, and those of you who are trying to be the best athlete you can be during this difficult time.
“For those athletes who are listening to me, my advice is simple,” replied Eliud. “Plan well, prepare well, and set your priorities right. Let’s think positive and live in a positive way.”
ALTOGETHER, IF WE THINK POSITIVE THEN WE CAN BEAT COVID-19 AND THE WORLD WILL RETURN TO NORMAL.