Updated: March 17th, 2023
“Running consistently ‘good enough’ beats occasionally great” says Eliud Kipchoge

It’s drilled into us that we need to be striving for greatness, and good enough just isn’t good enough. That we should never be satisfied and to keep pushing under the crippling expectations of today’s world. But what about when it comes to running? And what is it all for?

You have to be successful early and earlier these days and, what for exactly? What does success even mean? Under such pressures the depression and loneliness rates are through the roof – exercise is prescribed as a stress reliever but then the pressure of performance either on yourself or among friends gets a bit much and starts the whole cycle off again.

So how can we move from just being good enough in running? Realising and relishing there are understanding that we’re better off as good enough when it comes to your beloved sport, and escapism – running.

Lessons of consistent running from the marathon record holder.

A wonderful example of this phenomenon is Eliud Kipchoge who broke the marathon record in 2018. Running the Berlin 26.2 miles in 2:01:39, slicing 1 minute and 18 seconds from the previous world record set in 1967. AND THEN became the first man to run a marathon under 2 hours in 2019.

Eliud Kipchoge Sub 2 hour

This man is literally the best in the world at what he does, yet Kipchoge states clearly that the key to his success was not to overextend himself in training, at all. He told the New York Times that he rarely, if ever, pushed himself past 80% of his maximum effort during workouts. He recons it is the key to straining weeks upon weeks of consistent training – running with a relaxed mind and not overdoing it.

It’s a mental game too, for years people have been obsessed with the record, to be the next one to smash it but many have failed. Unlike them, Kipchoge said he was never obsessive over the mark and that he would race for personal best, if that just happened to be a world record too “I would appreciate it,but I would treat it as a personal best” he said.

Perhaps it’s the way he uses running as part of a lifestyle instead of becoming overcome by it. Kipchoge uses running to stay in the present, the here and now, ignorant of the ever-increasing expectations. He said, “I feel good, my mind feels good. I sleep in a free way and enjoy life.”

So if the best in the world believes in this good enough IS good enough paradox. Then surely, we can adopt it and run a bit more present, carefree and probably actually better than ever before. Because you will never find happiness whilst striving for it. The less you NEED to perform – the better you will perform. Pressures off. Think about the last time you were your happiest, were you striving for it? Were you chasing something? Or were you present?

Take a lesson from Kipchoge – stay grounded, at peace and feel good enough with what is in front of you. This doesn’t mean you should never desire change or improvement, quite the opposite, because by staying calm and consistent – results will come, I promise you.

Eliud Kipchoge London marathon

Wondering how to do that? How to adopt the Kipchoge way? Try these:

  1. Accept where you are fitness wise
  2. You’ve got to train at the level you are at. Not where you think you could be, and not where you want to be or used to be, but where you are RIGHT now.

    How often have you convinced yourself you can STILL do that thing you did years ago? ‘I don’t need to train, I can run a sub-4-hour marathon, I did it four years ago’ …erm…. Sound familiar? Some kind of magical thinking gets us to convince ourselves we are fitter, stronger, and more skilled than we actually are.

    Progress in anything, let alone running means you need to be honest and accept where you are to improve – the best to do that? Is fitness tests. Before starting a training plan it is wise to do a standardised fitness test and then repeat it each month/6 weeks or mid and end of the plan. It doesn’t have to be a fancy test, or anything complicated. How fast you can do a mile. The distance is covered in 20 minutes, or the bleep test if that’s what you want.

    Someone running on a track

    Also, remove the ego. If you are a beginner or it has been a long time since you last ran a marathon then chose the beginner plan. Do not push yourself Beynd your true capabilities – I don’t care what your friend or partner is doing! Selecting an intermediate/expert plan will be intense if you’re not used to it, you will burn out or even get injured, and let’s face it, none of those sound like a picnic. Nor will it help your training.

  3. Be patient
  4. The world wants results, and they want them now, but your body will not work like that. You know that one good meal won’t make you instantly healthy and one bad meal won’t pile on the pounds. A consistent diet will see changes, and the best are those who gradually do it, a cold turkey, a very limiting approach rarely works. Same with a run.

    If you see a run event for one month, training from nothing to 4-5 days a week for four weeks will not get you fit for that race – you need to give yourself time! It takes at least 3 months to train for a full marathon at a healthy rate. Remember the golden rule? 10% increase per week. That means a slow, gradual build to fitness – protecting you and limiting your potential for injury.

    Be patient, and remember you’re in it for the long game.

    Runner being patient mid race. Hands on her head breathing

  5. Be present
  6. We are not machines. Our brains are not built for multitasking. Studies show clearly that when we multitask our brains either constantly switch between tasks or divide and conquer – so only a percentage of cognitive capacity actually goes to the task at hand. So while we think we’re getting twice as much done when multitasking, we’re actually only getting half as much done, how infuriating.

    When racing and you’re panicking about food or water stations – it steals the joy of what you’re doing. Harvard studies proved that you are happier when fully present in running, or whatever activity you’re doing, happiness levels drop when your mind is elsewhere.

    But unfortunately, nowadays we’re more distracted than ever, almost always thinking about something else. We may think that if we’re not online 24/7 we’ll miss out on something and fall behind. But perhaps it’s the opposite that’s true. If we’re online 24/7, we’ll miss out on everything.

Runner not staying present, whilst running a race on a track

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