For how long can a runner keep training hard without earning from it?

For how long can a runner keep training hard with no guaranteed opportunity to race and earn a living in the near future? This is a question that is now causing sleepless nights to most of the Kenyan runners staying at different training locations in the country after sporting activities were suspended, for a second time since the pandemic struck.

Only forty runners would have won prizes at the Eldoret City Marathon that was also postponed; twenty men and twenty women, but thousands of runners here have been affected so much by its cancelation. To many, it wasn’t just about the prizes, but an opportunity to run good times to enable them to get invitations to future races and to get into any management.

It takes time, resources, and hard work to train for a marathon.

The fact that Eliud Kipchoge will run Hamburg Marathon shows his immense confidence.

Eliud Kipchoge in his farm. Photo from his FaceBook Page

Eliud Kipchoge is already named in the Kenyan Olympic Marathon to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics later this year. Besides, he is the defending champion of the Olympic men’s marathon. He has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone by participating in the Hamburg marathon. He had the option to skip the Hamburg marathon and just wait for the Olympic marathon race, but he chose to compete and risk being beaten.

Hamburg is where Kipchoge started his marathon career in 2013 and it is such a great coincidence that after his dismal performance at his last race in London, he has chosen to come back again to Hamburg to “start all over again.”

However, unlike when he trained alone ahead of the 2020 London Marathon, this time around, the camps have been opened and he has been lucky to have the same company in training which he had before going for the world record in Berlin.

Kipchoge’s 10-race win streak ended at his last outing, the London Marathon on Oct. 4th last year after he placed eighth, but despite that, he is predicted to be one on the main favorites to win in Hamburg this upcoming April, according to the guys at

If he comes back and wins the Hamburg Marathon on the 11th of April, fans will easily forget all about his London's 8th place finish. However, it won’t come so easily for him given that the race seems to be the only one offering an opportunity for elite runners to set seasonal best times and meet qualifying times for the Olympics and to sign contracts. There could be many elite runners interested in running.

The NN team, in partnership with the Hamburg Marathon has organized this fast course marathon in order to offer runners an opportunity to run Olympic qualifying standards at a time like this when there are no marathons to run.

Why Kipchoge will run this marathon yet he already has the Olympic Marathon waiting for him, and a status to maintain as the world’s greatest marathon runner ever is probably because he believes in himself.

After all, he was able to run under two hours for the marathon when almost everyone else in the world, including scientists, believed that no human would possibly run under that time.

Kipchoge already proved that “no human is limited” in Vienna, he’ll be simply reminding us the same in Hamburg.

James Willis just ran 72km to mark his 72nd birthday and here is my interview with him.

James Willis in a past race. Photo from his Facebook Page

It is now the second month of my working with James Willis, coaching him under my online coaching programs

As a coach, one would often expect their runners to do slightly better than what they are doing at the moment. Rarely would they find them surpassing their expectations. But, here is one runner who definitely surpasses everyone’s expectations and who should be a great inspiration to many.
James Willis just ran 72 km as he turned 72 years old today (21st January 2021). Most runners would struggle to run 72km in a whole week. To run 72 km in a single day, for a 72-year-old, is just mind-boggling! And, as if that is not enough, he is preparing to run a 168km race in April!

Here is an interview I had with Willis, who is from London, UK, but now lives in Banting, Malaysia; a few days before his birthday run:

1. What inspires you to keep running at your age?

My inspiration to keep running at my age is purely so that I can and still be competitive to some degree. I love running and perhaps one day in the future, when I am no longer competitive, I will just run for pleasure only.

2. How does your life feel when you are running compared to when you had stopped running at some point?

I came to running quite late. I was an all-round sports child, but Rugby was my first love and the only running I did was while training for other sports.

It is quite a story how I first became a runner. Back in the day, it was compulsory for UK secondary schools [11 to 17 years] to hold a cross-country run each year as part of the physical education program.

Well, not being a runner during the first two years I never completed the three-mile event, I and many others would run to a thicket on the course, perhaps half a mile, and hide in there until many of the runners had passed us on their way back and then slip into the bunch for the return journey. Of course, we thought we were so clever.

In year three, now thirteen years old and an accomplished rugby player, things changed.

Mental preparation for race day among Kenyan runners

Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 world half-marathon champion,
versus Bedan Karoki at a local race in Kenya

An athlete may have done enough training to run well in a race, but without the right mentality going into the race, all the training might become useless.

They say that experience is the best teacher, and if there is one place that this applies more, it should definitely be with the mental preparation among Kenyan runners getting ready to run their dream races. Some learn about the best ways to deal mentally with their races through experience while others are taught by a coach or by fellow runners.

One of the runners that have impacted me more on how to be tough and courageous in a race is Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 world half marathon champion. He told me how determined he was to finish in a podium place at a local race before no one ever knew about him. He had never finished in the top ten positions at any big race before. But here, the race meant everything to him. He had no more food where he stayed away from home, no money, and no one to ask for help. He was in Nairobi and he wanted to win some money at the cross country race to enable him to travel back to Eldoret. The race was paying the top three finishers only.