Nike Running Summit w/ Eliud Kipchoge and Coach Patrick Sang
What a week and weekend it has been! I got back from New York and didn't have much time to deal with my jetlag and catch up on sleep, but instead found myself somehow rushing from one happening / project to the next. Some say it's good if your inner drive is at a higher pace than the space you're living in, others (like me this past weekend) find it somewhat overwhelming.. While it was a conscious move to transport myself and my belongings to a slower pace city, it is still not quite easy for me to actually slow down.. UNTIL Thursday morning, when we sat down in front of Eliud Kipchoge—the master of mindfulness and the living legend, who holds the world record in the Marathon (2:01:39) and won the London Marathon setting the second best time ever—and his coach Patrick Sang.
Time just stood still. In his presence the energy in the room and mine completely shifted. With their shy smiles and both their calmness, everyone went quite, trying to stay present as the two Kenyans shared their life and running wisdoms with us. This was my second time meeting Eliud. The first time was at the 2017 Berlin Marathon, 2 days before the race at his hotel lobby together with the NN Running Team. We picked up Patrick to join us for a panel discussion while Eliud rested his legs. Back then, I already felt incredibly honoured to meet him for that split second in that setting of a small group and to have shaken his hand. He quickly left right after. [If you haven't, I am sure you have though, go watch the Breaking 2 documentary.]
You see these sports legends in the media who seem to be so far removed from us, but something is different with Eliud. A friend recently asked me, whether or not I think *people* can relate to him, and it didn't take long to answer. I said: yes! And I told him: funnily enough, the stranger, the woman—a wife, mother of two from Montreal—I sat next to on the bus to Hopkinton before the start of the Boston Marathon, mentioned him. She said: I really like him. His whole attitude, his approach. He is so humble and his spirit. It's all really inspiring. She smiled when she spoke of him and the thought of him made me smile, too.
And yes, I was incredibly nervous standing next to him once again.. but when I admitted this fact to him, he just laughed which then made me laugh. It was an amazing moment indeed! Also, when you stand next to him, you realise: that this mighty and very special man is.. you know, just a normal shy dude, small frame and pretty short, which makes him even more likeable.
Here are my favourite bits from the
Nike Running Summit together with Maurten:
On recovery and what he's focusing right now, Eliud says: "Right now I am focusing on full recovery. It's always better to recover mentally. And recover fully physically. Just full rest."
On the competition with Mo Farah, he gracefully says: "I don’t compete against any person but against the distance and the time.”
Patrick, how did you realise that Eliud is going to be the fastest marathoner in the world? "It's been a process. I cannot point out a specific point. From the time I realized that he was talented, it's been a great development, but the mental talent I saw, was in the year 2003, when he won the world title in the 5000m against two great athletes, Bekele and El Guerrouj, that was probably where I could see that he will go places. Of course, historically, we have seen athletes come and go, but as a person, he's been gradually developing over time."
The moderator asked, Eliud what do you think, do you think you can break 2hours in the marathon? "With the big experience in Monza, and the training towards it, and the consistency and the times of the marathon, I believe that it is possible."
How has training changed over the past years with Eliud? Patrick: "Training hasn't changed so much, but I think we've learned a lot, especially after the breaking 2 experience, we learned a lot going to Berlin and this year going to London, the knowledge is getting wider but training is training."
Has anything changed for you Eliud? "We follow the program and we train. I trust the changes, the way all the things change, the way my body and I change, but the whole mentality now is: I believe in myself. That is the main change. Mentally."
Patrick adds: "The change is not in your training, but the support teams that have come onto the boat, it has grown. We have the Nike partnership especially with the early innovation, things to do with nutrition and hydration, regeneration that change the factors in racing and training."
On running being a part of his life in Kenya, Eliud says: "It’s part of my life, but what we’re trying to do now is that running is not a culture for me, it’s part of the world, something that combines the whole world."
Do you really need fun during training? Patrick: "Anything that is enjoyable has to have an element of pain, a way of mixing the pain and joy, to still come out with a nice face. The human evolution as far as how we live and carry our lives, the need for physical activity is going to be necessary more than ever, whether we like it or not, we’re going there."
Eliud adds: "When I am training, I really feel the pain, but I’m enjoying the training, even if it’s really painful, I will enjoy it."
Once they opened it up for Q+A, I asked him: How do you see yourself inspiring the next generation of runners? to which Eliud replied: "With this sport, I would love to go around the world to inspire the next generation and to inspire the human family about running. To love running. And I want to tell them that the freedom that we miss is in running."
And then because I heard the rumour of him wanting to run all world majors (Tokyo, Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London), he said: "I think it’s still a rumour, but I’d love to complete the six before I retire."
How about the Olympics in 2020? Eliud answers: "I will try my best to get to the starting point."
On their work with Nike
How important is it for you to feel that engine in the shoe?
Eliud: To me efficiency and recovery are very important, so you can run as slow as you want as far as the muscles are concerned and you can still run very hard, but also still gain all the benefits for competition.
Patrick, how does it work on the development of a shoe with your athletes?
Patrick: Every coach has the dream to have the athletes injury-free, with this kind of technology, we’re gaining a lot as a technical bench, we would want to go towards a better direction with athletes interaction. Eliud has a big group that gives serious feedback before the product comes out. It's a close cooperation.
How has it been for you working with Maurten?
Eliud: In training and in sport, everyone is creating their own roles, Coach is playing his role like Nike in terms of shoes and apparel has a role, Maurten has a role in terms of nutrition and hydration, the beauty of maurten is absorption, it’s easy to your stomach and comfortability, you cannot run when you have challenges in your stomach.
Is there a race plan as well?
Eliud: Yes, we plan it of course with Maurten and the whole team. The great thing about Maurten is, you can use it during training. You can use it when you’re inside the race. You can use it when you’re recovering. It’s all combined.
How do you enjoy testing new product, be it Nike or Maurten?
Eliud: I am a free person, I am a lover of change and lover of development and technology, so if anything new, I welcome it and give it my testing.
[What is Maurten? "The Swedish product, available in liquid of gel form, is a hydrogel, which is easily absorbed by the body, meaning you can ingest more carbs per hour (100g) than when using other gels, and without any gastro issues. Plus, there are only six ingredients, about half that of your average energy gel. And, as the saying goes, less is Maurten." per Runner's World]
Thank you again to the Nike Berlin and Maurten teams for having us for the Future of Running summit! Both Daniel and me also got to test the Next percent shoe, so will definitely share some thoughts on that in a separate post!
Also, to everyone who has been following the articles on Caster Semenya, I hope these words above from Eliud help as a reminder that we as people can't be put into categories, that we should be able to live and run the way we are born, as human beings.