By Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
October 15th, 2019
Last Saturday, October 12th, the entire world witnessed the writing of a new page in the history of world sport. On a misty morning in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria, the long-distance professional runner, Eliud Kipchoge, born in Kenya on November 5th, 1984, broke one of the "impossible" records in long-distance sports, for many years. His spectacular performance led him to run the distance of 42,195 k (26.22 miles) at 1:59:40, a record that although will not be considered as a new official brand (basically due to standards of competition rules in terms of pacers and fluids offered to the runner), has already been recognized by the Guinness World of Records as the first marathon distance run by a human being in history, in less than 2 hours.
This athletic feat of epic dimensions, only brings to my mind the achievement of Roger Bannister, who on May 6th, 1954, managed to run the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, breaking all the predictions of the time (which even stated that it was physiologically impossible for a human being to run it in less than 4 minutes). Today, runner H. El Guerrouj holds the world record at 3:43:13. It also reminded me of when Sir Edmund Hillary (together with the mountaineer Sherpa T. Norgay) reached, on May 29th, 1953, the summit of Mount Everest for the first time.
Based on what has been said, in these brief lines we could talk about:
The special type of tennis shoes (The Nike Vaporfly%) used on Saturday by Eliud; but we will not do so.
The group of select pacers who were with Eliud during part of the race; but we will not do so.
The ideal topography and road platform of the city of Vienna; but we will not do so.
The time of day, temperature and atmospheric conditions of that morning; but we will not do so.
The sponsorship of this unique sporting event by the manufacturing company ENOIUS; but we will not do so.
That Eliud has a genetic predisposition that ideally places him to be a high-performance runner; but we will not do so.
That Eliud comes from a fertile country in high-level runners; but we will not do so.
What we will do is talk about Eliud Kipchoge, the human being. By carefully studying the person behind the runner we realize that everything mentioned above in these lines is important but not essential, it is relevant, but not decisive.
Eliud Kipchope has won 12 of the 13 marathons in which he has participated to date. He reached his Olympic Champion status in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and has won the Majors 8 times (Berlin, London and Chicago). On September 16th, 2018 in Berlin, he set the new world record with 2:01: 39.
Eliud Kipchoge fits perfectly into a personal development study model in which I have been working for some years now, where the elements of attitude, aptitude and support systems greatly define the ability to reach our maximum potential in any human activity. But when we carefully study the person of Eliud Kipchoge we find an immensely disciplined man, with his feet on the ground. An absolute tranquility when speaking that contrasts with its incomparable running speed. His admirable team spirit, although he practices an individual sport. His impressive habit of writing in his notebook what he has learned in his workouts, to learn from them. His work ethic almost obsessive about compliance, but careful not to overdo it. His impressive focus on the process, more than the end result.
For all of us amateurs’ athletes, who have run 42,195k in a competitive marathon at some time, watching Eliud run is like watching Michelangelo sculpting; Leonardo painting or Pavarotti singing. There is art and science together. There is beauty and technique. There is passion and focus. There is natural flow. The difficult is perceived as easy. Although I really have to confess that it is somewhat overwhelming to see him run so fast in long distance races.
If I had to interpret an X-ray of Eliud Kipchoge to be able to identify elements, habits and attitudes that a common human being could benefit from, without fear of being mistaken I would come up with two superlative aspects: His formula and its flagship quote.
His formula: "Motivation + discipline = consistency."
His flagship quote: “Only the disciplined are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions. ”
At the end of these lines, I want to share with you a question has not stopped spinning in my head since last Saturday: In what area of my life is my own 1.59.40 waiting for me? And yours?