What golfers can learn from Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge, current world record holder and winner of the London Marathon 2019
Eliud Kipchoge, current world record holder and winner of the London Marathon 2019, visits the course for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna ahead of his attempt to become the first man to run a sub-two hour marathon. PHOTO | COURTESY 

This weekend the world’s greatest athlete, will attempt to run a marathon (42 kilometres) in under two hours. Dubbed the INEOS159 Challenge, the attempt by Eliud Kipchoge takes place in Vienna, Austria at the Prater, a park with a long, straight and historic stretch of road named the Hauptallee.

This venue was selected for many reasons, among them the fact that Vienna and Kaptagat, Kipchoge’s training town in Kenya, have a short one hour time difference; further, there is minimum elevation change over the 4.3 kilometre stretch of road at the Hauptallee, the temperatures, wind speeds and humidity are ideal for marathon as is the altitude at 165 metres above sea level.

Lessons from the 2017 Breaking2 attempt, a Nike initiative with Kipchoge, have provided invaluable information to the INEOS159 organisers; elements that were deemed detrimental to the attempt in 2017 have been eliminated by venue selection, science and/or technology and elements that were deemed necessary but missing at Monza have been added through the same process.

For example, Kipchoge’s team said they preferred running in-front of big crowds, which was not the case at Monza. All around the Hauptallee, Kipchoge and his pacemakers will be cheered on by thousands and thousands of fans, giving him a much needed boost to attain his goal. To prepare for this mammoth task, Kipchoge has kept up his tough training routine at his Kaptagat camp where all athletes practice a basic and most frugal lifestyle; for the last five months, Kipchoge has run over 200 kilometres per week, engaged in intense gym sessions, a strict nutrition regime and prepared his mind for the challenge.

“If you want to break through, your mind should be able to control your body,” Kipchoge told Runners World in a recent interview. “My mental preparation for taking on such a challenge is just as important as my physical preparation. I need to internalise in my heart and my mind that I can run a sub-two-hour marathon.” ( As we wait with baited breathe for Kipchoge to take on this challenge, what can golfers learn from “the philosopher”?


Golf is a game that is as mentally challenging as running a marathon; in fact your greatest challenge in golf is not the elements or the course, but your state of mind. Many golfers simply don’t “believe”, they have no faith in their swings or their equipment - they attempt to compensate for their lack of belief by swinging too wildly, too fast, too aggressively, they jerk their bodies with disastrous results - their lack of belief shows in their poor shots.

To play better golf, we must become ‘believers’ - we must trust our swings and our abilities. Tiger Woods made the gym a necessary ingredient for top level golf early in his career, today, most Pros work out religiously, do you? To play better golf you have to be fit, your core has to be ready to endure the physically moments generated by the golf swing.

You must be able to walk 10 kilometres without too much stress and for the top amateurs and professionals, you must be able to play five rounds over five days. Fitness is not an option. And whilst golfers may not need to run 200 kilometres per week like Kipchoge, they too must find a way to remain physically fit.

Nutrition plays a big part for Kipchoge, both short-term and long term nutrition. Through the training period Kipchoge ensures he consumes the right amount of calories from the right sources to fuel his brutal training regime and closer to races, he carbo-loads.

Marathoners use carbohydrate loading as a strategy to increase their endurance during the race - do our top golfers ‘carbo-load’? As an amateur or weekend golfer, are you aware which foods help you perform better on the golf course?

Do those two chapatis and black tea improve your game? Should you eat an hour or two hours before your round? By the way - interesting fact - Kipchoge sleeps for 10 hours in every 24-hour cycle, 8-hours at night and a 2-hour nap during the day. To be the best marathoner in the world, rest and sleep is vital!

Vienna is well known as the City of Music, it is after all the home of Mozart and Beethoven, but this weekend, there will only be one tune, one rhythm, that of Eliud Kipchoge. All the best Eliud!