Transcript of Training for Ultra Podcast Episode 178.
Kipchoge - On Pain, Limits and the Possibility of Ultramarathons
Kipchoge: Training what? Training...
Rob: Training for Ultra.
Kipchoge: Oh, Training for Ultra!
Rob: So, I want to start off the episode by thanking NBC Universal for giving me a sneak peek of Kipchoge: The Last Milestone. It is an upcoming film they are going to release. I got a sneak peek of it and I have to tell you it’s just spectacular, so I highly recommend checking that out. Regardless of your running background and abilities it’s going to inspire and wow you so definitely check that out if you get a chance. Like I said in the interview, the cinematography, the editing, the sound, and most importantly the story is just unbelievable, so shout out to NBC Universal and DDA Group. I really appreciate you guys.
So, this was what I saw as sort of a once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to who I see as possibly the best runner of all times. He has toyed with a bunch of different distances and recently he’s taken to just a single-minded pursuit of the marathon and as the film goes over, and we are all aware, he is trying to break the two hour barrier which is seen as impossible. So, I was so thankful to have any time at all with Kipchoge to just pick his brain and I got the opportunity to actually throw in some ultrarunning stuff and I think you might be surprised actually with the responses that he gives me.
It is pretty exciting for our little world and I think this running movie has the potential to take running into the vast mainstream. It’s been mainstream, but this has the potential of pushing it even further and I wouldn’t be shocked to see if Kipchoge makes some headlines with running beyond that 26.2. But, I highly recommend checking out this movie. Quick shout out to the show sponsors.
Kipchoge: Hey everybody I am Eliud Kipchoge, Olympic champion, and welcome.
Rob: Welcome to episode 178 of the Training for Ultra Podcast. My name is Rob, I also go by Training for Ultra, and we have a special episode for you today. Eliud Kipchoge the legendary world record holder, double gold medalist in the marathon distance, back-to-back in Rio and Tokyo.
This is a dream interview. I have done 177 interviews prior to this and I see it as preparation for when you’re given ten to fifteen minutes with the biggest name in the sport; what questions are you going to ask. Are you going to choke? I really tried my best to hold it together and really add value so you guys can get some really cool insights and again I just really hope you enjoy it and thanks so much for your support.
Rob: Thank you so much it’s an honor to have you on the podcast. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch The Last Milestone and it is just spectacular storytelling, the cinematography is off the charts, and this definitely a film to be seen. I think it’s going to take running to a whole new level once you know it goes and is released and seen by all of humanity. So, thank you for putting yourself out there and being a part of this. It’s really an amazing film.
Kipchoge: Thank you too for taking the time to watch. Thank you for watching man. I appreciate that and that you got inspired.
Rob: I think that it is going to inspire a lot and that is a good segue into you, you have inspired millions of people. This film is going to inspire millions of people. You have inspired whole countries, I would say. In the film you say you are trying to inspire humanity - who inspires you, day to day when you wake up, is there an individual that inspires you or what inspires you?
Kipchoge: Thank you very much and I would say when I wake up day by day it is that I need to do more because the inspiration comes from all over the world and when I open all the social media channels everybody is sending the message of gratitude towards what I have been doing. I am getting the inspiration from the whole world. I am getting the inspiration from the youth across the world who believe that no human is limited. I am getting the inspiration from those people who are starting to get outdoors in the morning and run. So, every day is a challenge for me because I am getting inspired and I want to inspire more.
Rob: Is it hard to smile all the time or does that come naturally? Are you always in such a good mood that it’s not hard to do?
Kipchoge: I don’t think it’s hard. It’s natural and that’s the only way to enjoy running. It’s the only way to forget what is happening in your body and I need to focus and concentrate on what is ahead of me.
Rob: So, in the film you mention pain in training and since this is the Training for Ultra Podcast I had to note that one down. How much of your training do you actually enjoy? How much of your training are smiling on and how much of your training are you grimacing in pain and pushing your body to hold new limits?
Kipchoge: I always push my body especially during the long runs. I push my body in tempo runs, in track training, that’s where I am pushing myself even to feel the pain more. I enjoy pushing for myself, pushing my body. I really push my body.
Rob: I want to hear about, you know, this film is absolutely amazing. I do have to throw in one quick question on, you know, it’s focused on going sub two in the marathon. I want to hear more about that, obviously, but I do have to ask: have you thought about pushing your limits with distance? You’ve pushed your limits with the marathon time and many other shorter distances, have you thought about pushing your limits and seeing how far you can run?
Kipchoge: I have never actually thought of trying to push the limits actually in less than a marathon, but I trust in the future that I will still push on maybe to 25 kilometers, 30 kilometers, and above all after leaving the marathon, I want to run the ultramarathons, just to feel how it is. Running for more than 4 or 5 days. Or even run at once for 70 kilometers. I really want to feel the pain of running for a long time.
Rob: That’s a beautiful thing to hear. I mean from arguably the best runner of all times the fact that you want to feel what it feels like to run multi days. Are there any specific races that you have heard of that are tempting for you down the road?
Kipchoge: Not really, but I want to try to run most of the long races in America, South Africa in the future.
Rob: That’s awesome. That makes me happy. I have to hear why sub two and I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what is it about the two-hour mark that has driven you to a whole different level of running that the world has never seen in the marathon?
Kipchoge: You know, let me tell you that marathon is life and marathon is what actually will be there in the future. The future of the world is marathon. The future is the marathon and that is why I always value marathon. That’s why I value actually and I put all my mind to run under two hours because I wanted to make history because actually marathon is the future. I know many people will be running the marathon in the future and that is what the future is and that is important, and so is breaking the two-hour barrier.
Rob: It was just phenomenal, in this film it covers that so well. What does it feel like having a crowd cheering like crazy, pumping you up, versus, you know, the COVID era of no one in the stands and you know having to do efforts kind of in your own mind? Is there much of a difference for you and just tell me more about that. What is going through your head with a crowd versus no crowd?
Kipchoge: The crowd actually is really important. It pushes me to the next level. The crowd has its own percentage as far as performance is concerned, so they cheer you and you feel that actually many people actually are getting inspired, many people want to see you winning, many people actually are enjoying seeing people competing and seeing people represent and you feel that joy that you are together, you are together as a human family. When you see people actually across the street it is really important and you can’t compare it with anything else, it is the best actually, the best to actually, to happen in the race. Fans, actually crowds, play a big big big big role.
Rob: I mean it’s fun to watch. It is easy to cheer for someone like yourself, obviously. You know in the movie you talk about believing in yourself. I want to know how you learn to believe in yourself for something that people say is impossible, like how do you train yourself or what’s your process to believe in yourself for something “impossible?
Kipchoge: I just respect the values and I think believing in myself is the best value actually for all the humans. The best value actually to walk around with it because it is the only way that you can actually go places. If you really believe in yourself, believing in yourself, in anything in this world, is actually a plus. It actually keeps your confidence to go the extra mile, so that’s what is in my mind, that’s actually what I am thinking in every situation whenever I encounter any question or when I encounter a crowd and give my little hints.
Rob: What, changing the topic a little bit because a lot of the film is showing success, but it also paints a picture of some hiccups along the road. You say there are ups and there are downs in the marathon. What I mean is what does failure mean? How do you define failure in your mind and how does that affect you going forward?
Kipchoge: I think failure I can define as that it is that bad day that you wake up and you did not actually accomplish what you have been planning for a very long time, but it’s not the end of everything. Because sport actually you can fail in sport, but sport can challenge you and failure you can treat it as a challenge and that’s why I always say today you are helped, tomorrow you are empowered. That’s a challenge. We get knocked down and work up onto our knees and stand and move again.
Rob: Along similar lines the film talks about pain; how do you define pain?
Kipchoge: I can define failing as the situation whereby you are trying to stretch your limits. The moment you are stretching your limits; that situation I always call pain, but the more you stretch, the more you get pain and that’s where success is.
Rob: That’s beautiful. I absolutely love that. You are a master of self-discipline. I think there are monks that probably envy your abilities. How do you get up on a day that you don’t feel like training and make the most of it and, if anything, end the day with a huge successful training day?
Kipchoge: When I wake up and I don’t feel like getting out of the bed I always tell myself, “why not?” I just get up, put on my shoes, and just move on and slowly by slowly I will wake up and will be fresh and I can go. It is good to have that mentality that even if you don’t feel good you need to push yourself. You need to be happy and stick with what you are doing and walk your talk.
T4U: You have world records, you have won back-to-back gold medals in the marathon, you have done so much, how do you want history to remember you? You have worked so hard to make the history books, are there one or two things that stick out in your mind that you want to be remembered for?
Kipchoge: I want to be remembered actually for my history to be remembered as inspirational history. When people read my history, they get inspired. I want people, when they see my film, they get inspired to go out and run. They get inspired actually to seek out the limitations in their own minds. They get inspired to think positive every now and then. They get inspired to cope and actually get the best value and that can actually help them to live the day by day.
Rob: I think it’s a beautiful thing to leave for people and we have so much in common, it’s not even funny, although you are at least twice as fast as me. I just wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you from the middle, back-of-the-pack runners, that you know, we work full time, but we get out for those random events. I wanted to thank you from the ultrarunning community, I don’t speak for all of them, but some of them and what you have done and how many people you have inspired is just phenomenal. I really appreciate you taking so much time, I know you’re in high demand and a busy person, but it really means a lot to these communities and to me that you took time to speak with us today.
Kipchoge: Thank you very much. I also want to say thank you to all the ultra community and say please be inspired, please actually always have no limits in your life and let us together run as one. Let us make running, as a human family, a human lifestyle. It’s the only way to move on. So, I wish everybody all the very best. I wish you positive vibes for everything you are doing in your life. Thank you very much.
Rob: Thank you. I really appreciate it. I am running The Leadville 100 miler tomorrow, you’re welcome out here, anytime you want, in Leadville. Come out here, check out an ultra
Kipchoge: Yes, yes. Let me wish you a massive energy and free mind to tackle those miles.
Rob: Hey, any time, so thank you so much
Kipchoge: Thank you too.
Rob: That was episode 178, big thank you to Eliud Kipchoge for taking so much of his time. He is in high demand after his gold medal in Tokyo. Check out his film, it drops in just a day or two. Shout-out to NBC Universal for giving me a sneak peak, D.D.A. Group. Big thank you again to Tanri Outdoors, XOSkin and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Big shout-out to patreon supporters. If you like this episode, please don’t forget to hit the subscribe button, hit the thumbs up, and like it. A positive review is always always welcome, five-star reviews too, so thank you guys couldn’t appreciate the support more, especially after a few rough races for me personally, but most importantly guys don’t forget to enjoy your training. Have a great week. Thanks again.