Success in athletics is no instant coffee fix

By Jonathan Komen and Vincent Achuka: Sunday, March 25th 2018 at 10:52 GMT +3 | Athletics
800M Champion David Rudisha celebrates his victory in a past race. [Photo: Courtesy]

The North Rift region –often billed as the Mecca of world athletics –has seen Eldoret town glow with marathon dollars thanks to the maxim 'train hard, win easy.'


Two adjectives –sacrifice and discipline –define the athletic atmosphere in Iten, Eldoret and Kapsabet towns.
They say athletes are born but top notch athletes are made. And Eliud Kipchoge, who is the world's fastest marathoner of all, has subscribed to this athletics manual, which has seen most Kenyans hit the global stage.


Passion: Passion in sports means a choice. You make a choice deeply inside your heart and even beyond your blood and the born marrow.
Self-discipline: It's acting between what's the right thing to do rather than what you feel like doing.  You must sacrifice your pleasures for it. But does one need to earn self-discipline?
You need to stick to your priorities, don't make excuses, learn to say "No" and remain devoted to your course and make discipline your lifestyle!


So, what benefits or dividends does an athlete get from self-discipline? It helps shape your feelings, gets you back into the track and to do the right thing targeting long term gains.
Kipchoge says: "Talent without self-discipline is like octopus on a roller skates, where there is plenty of movements but you don't know whether it's going forward, backwards or sideways."
He borrows a famous quote from Richard H Smith, a professor of psychology from America's Kentucky University: "The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago and second best tree is today." So please plant the tree of self-discipline.


Remember only the disciplined one's are free in their daily life, but the undisciplined are slaves in their moods.
Preparation/planning: This is basically on what you want and what do you what to go about. Kipchoge, an avid reader, borrows from American author Alan Amstrong: "Champions don't become champions when they win in their races. But in their minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, they spend training and planning. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character."


Athletes wake up at 4:30am from Monday to Saturday and attend training sessions for three to four hours and later resume light training at 5pm. They stay away from their families.
Between these days and, depending on an athletes' training programme, there is always hill work, speed work, intervals and long run.
"As an athlete your wife and children must accommodate your sacrifice to stay away from camp. It's no easy decision to make but you have to," he said.
"While at the camp, plan your time. You need to have time to rest, share with fellow athletes, read or study and of course time to plan your investments."

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For a good life as an athlete, he says, you kick out the millionaire attitude. He says he sees no reason why money can change character of an athlete who has won a mere Sh50 million when uneducated farmer in Uasin Gishu can spend a similar amount in wheat farming for 2,000 acres and, "goes ahead to pray to God for rain."


 "Assuming you have Sh50 million in your bank account and keep on bragging around. Here comes uneducated farmer who can use the Sh50m only to plant his wheat for a season. The farmer cannot even be noticed as he walks in town," says Kipchoge.


For women's athletes, there is more than sacrifice. Hyvin Kiyeng, the 2015 world 3,000m steeplechase champion, says it's no easy to multi-task motherhood and athletics career.
"You must endure a lot to become a champion. At times, your children cry when you bid bye and head to camp. It's sometimes disturbing.


"We train very hard. Sometimes you feel some how sick after training but you have to continue if you want to become a champion. I attribute sacrifice, hard work and discipline to winning world championships in 2015.
"You start off athletics from a very difficult situation, several challenges in between. They include logistical support to attend races, training kit, coach and training programme which you must stick to it. All these need patience and perseverance.   


"Remember, as a female athlete, you need to attend to maternal duties like cooking, washing and taking care of children. So you must strike a balance," said Kiyeng.
Sylvia Kibet, the 2009 world 5,000m silver medalist, says there are family challenges that stand in the way to become successful athlete.


"You may not have a house help to care for your children. You may not have money to pay the house help. That stops the athlete from going to camp, where you rent house in Iten or near Eldoret and e

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