ELIUD Kipchoge’s bid to rewrite history started in May in Kenya – more than 8,500km away from where he will attempt to run a marathon in under two hours.
In the beginning, the 34-year-old Kenyan was either jogging up to 20km a day on a dirt track or working out in the gym.
“That stage is crucial because it provides the foundation for my preparation and shows me how fit I am,” he wrote in his blog.
“In my mind the gym work helps to chase away the injuries and train the muscles. I know that with the right preparation and planning and by completing every long run, fartlek session and every track workout, that I will be ready.”
In early July, he transferred to his training camp in Kaptagat in Kenya, leaving wife Grace and their three children, Lynne, Griffin and Jordon, behind at the family farm in Eldoret.
“It is always hard to have to say goodbye to them,” he said. “But they understand these are the sacrifices I need to make to fulfil my running potential.”
The camp allowed him to focus solely on his training – and run with his teammates.
“Unless you are a genius, it is impossible to train on your own and achieve the same level of results,” he said.
Nothing, though, could prepare him for the first few days in camp.
“My legs were sore and the muscles ached because my body had to adjust to the demands of going for a long run and the speed sessions again,” he said.
Initially, the training involved a mixture of gym work and easier runs. Later on, they went on to a mix of easy runs, two fartlek sessions and a long run.
But as the weeks progressed, faster track workouts were introduced.
“It is always important to get that stage right, so when we face the next intensive stage of training we are able to cope with the extra training load much more comfortably,” he said.
“If we don’t, there are be big problems during the track sessions and on the long runs you really suffer.”
Recovery from the hard training sessions was also important.
To help keep him in tip-top condition, regular core stability exercises and massage sessions with his physiotherapist Peter Nduhiu were scheduled.
And twice a week, usually after a long run and the fartlek session, he had a 10-minute ice bath in the camp.
“While it is not particularly pleasant, it is great way for the body to recover from a hard work out and to reduce inflammation,” he said.
By mid-August, there was a real buzz in the camp – and outside it.
“It felt like every household in Kenya was talking about the challenge,” said Eliud.
But as the excitement mounted, so did the pressure.
“There was a lot of pressure and it was not easy to handle,” he said.
To cope, Eliud knew exactly what he needed to do.
“It was important to keep things simple and normal,” he said. “To take things day by day because my mental preparation was just as important as my physical preparation.”
Weekend trips to Eldoret meant he could relax with his family, spend time on the farm and read.
By August 30, many of the pacemakers, who would be running with him on the day, had been announced – and Eliud had begun working with his nutritionist Armand Bettonviel on what he needed to eat, and when, to run at his best.
“It was a huge morale boost for me to have these guys and many others by my side,” he said.
With a month to go, Eliud was feeling confident that 2019 would be the year that a marathon would be run in under two hours – and he would be the man to do it.