Kipchoge: What long-distance running can teach entrepreneurs

Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Eliud Kipchoge, the world's greatest marathoner, draws many parallels between long-distance running and entrepreneurship.

The double Olympic champion is even looking to enter the world of business when he eventually hangs up his running shoes.

"I'm not really an entrepreneur at the moment, but I trust I'll be one in the future... probably farming," he tells Enterprise in a matter-of-factly manner.

The 38-year-old's self-discipline is legendary and has seen him win 17 marathons out of 19 starts and is the current world marathon record holder.

The GOAT (greatest of all time) in 2019 became the first human in history to run a sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna, Austria living up to his mantra that "no human is limited."

In an interview with Enterprise Kipchoge shared business lessons that can be drawn from sports and revealed his plans for the year.

Mindset and discipline

"No human is limited. Business people should push their boundaries all the time," says Kipchoge who is this marking 20 years in an illustrious athletics career.

The elite long-distance runner is known for his sharp focus, sacrifice and dedication to becoming a world great.

He gets up at 5 am for his morning runs while training in high altitude, observes a strict diet and lives an almost monastic life away from his family when preparing for a key race.

In a previous interview, the sports philosopher king also underscored the importance of mental strength when it comes to his craft and smashing records.

"What makes a person run faster is his or her mind. And when your mind is calm, you run well. I don't run by myself but by my mind and my heart," he said ahead of the 2019 INEOS challenge where he run the sub-two-hour marathon.

Kipchoge also recently went viral when he revealed in an interview the power of "Vitamin N." He explained that this is the ability to say no, which is a core part of self-discipline.

"The disciplined ones in life are free. It's the undisciplined ones who are in prison," said Kipchoge.

"When you live an undisciplined life, you're doing things that do not align with your values. We need to be free, to walk free, to live an honest life," he said.

Kipchoge notes that just as in sports business leaders and entrepreneurs must practice such qualities if they hope to succeed and strive to push boundaries.

Consistency and Endurance

Entrepreneurs should have the ability to concentrate on one business and know it inside out, advises Kipchoge. He says entrepreneurs should have endurance engraved in their minds.

"In business, you can miss today but sell tomorrow instead," notes Kipchoge.

"You are running for a long time it's a marathon and if you keep at it can become resilient and know the dynamics," he adds.

And what is Kipchoge's best way to celebrate a marathon? Finishing the race is enough.

"It's just crossing the finishing line because I'm celebrating with the whole world," he says sternly.

Endurance sports such as marathons offer skills that business leaders and entrepreneurs can pick up to succeed.

These include long-term planning, commitment, time management and delayed gratification, among others.

Eyes on the prize

For 2023, Kipchoge is chasing his "fifth rabbit" in his quest to win six major World marathons.

Last year, Kipchoge beat his own world record at the Berlin Marathon, clocking a time of 2:01:09, which was a 30-second improvement on his previous record in 2018.

In April, all his focus is on the Boston Marathon. Kipchoge does one thing at a time and dismisses any attempts to ask him about other marathons he'll compete in future.

"Boston is quite big. It will be good to put my feet on the streets of Boston. They are commemorating 10 years since the bombing attack. I feel I should be there to commemorate with them and send positive vibes around," said Kipchoge.

Likewise, entrepreneurs should also aim at setting tangible goals and working daily to achieve them and avoid going off course.

No shortcuts

Kenya has received negative press in the recent past over cases of athletes doping.

"It's bad for us as a nation and unfortunate that in this 21st century, we have people still thinking of shortcuts," regrets Kipchoge.

He advises younger athletes that the long road is always the best to follow. "You grow well, you become human," he remarks.

He says that his 20 years in athletics is a major life milestone.

"It's really important and the number one reason is longevity and it is not about me but a message to the next generation on what they should emulate," he says.

"Train well, focus, run clean and push your body."