Eliud Kipchoge - The Greatest Of All Time - 3 Essential Workouts - (2023)

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Eliud Kipchoge - The Greatest Of All Time - 3 essential workouts

Article by Tait Hearps of Sweat Elite

So you just watched Eliud Kipchoge pull off another brilliant run at the 2019 London Marathon, flying home to beat his opponents in the final kilometers and blasting past Buckingham Palace in a league of his own. 2:02:37. The second fastest marathon ever run (excluding his Monza exploits, that's another story), second only to his world record of 2:01:39 set in Berlin last September. You're wondering how the hell you do it? We asked ourselves the exact same question (after Project Breaking2 in 2017) so before Berlin 2017 we went to Kenya to spend a month with Kipchoge and his team.

In this article, we'll focus on Kipchoge's 3 most important weekly workouts. We have published a book about the whole experience of training with the group in Kenya and you can find the link to the book on AmazonHere.

Eliud lives most of the year in a training camp in the town of Kaptagat, Kenya. He is the oldest member of the group and one could be forgiven for considering the other athletes as his students who have shown their reverence for him. Despite being called "The Boss", Eliud likes to keep things very simple and in no way acts to be superior to the lesser members of the group. During our month in Kaptagat we learned a lot from the group and many aspects of their lives surprised us. But after spending some time there, it's clear that a big part of what makes Eliud (and each and every one of the elite runners he trains with) so great is the workouts they do.

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Most of the runs Kipchoge does are easy. You run where you barely pant and cruise, along with a low heart rate in an aerobic state. This doesn't mean 'slow' though, as many of these aerobic races have sections running at around 3:45 min/km... think of the hills, dirt roads and 2400m altitude and that's exceptional. However, compared to the three training sessions that take place each week, it's clear he's still navigating even those races that can run up to a half marathon.

So what are the three workouts you do each week? They vary a bit but follow a very similar pattern.

Tuesday - track

Kaptagat is a small town located 30 minutes drive from Eldoret. There is no trace in Kaptagat; The next track is in Eldoret, where training takes place on Tuesday morning. Sometimes they start at 6:10 am, sometimes until 11:00 am.

The training takes place on a sandy track. The path surface is basically like a normal forest path; uneven and smooth. I can assure you that if you see the route they use on Tuesdays and you are from any western country, you would instantly appreciate your own route more.

The training starts with a jogging warm-up of 10-15 minutes, nothing more. A few quick stretches and straight at him.

They basically do two types of workouts on Tuesdays and ride them in two-week blocks:

1.15 km intervals at the target marathon pace.

15km intervals clockwise around his target marathon pace (so 2:50-2:55 min/km for Eliud). It's actually a bit harder to do on land and at altitude than on the road at sea level, but of course that's part of the training.

Examples of exercises:

  • 15 x 1 km (90 seconds rest) averaging 2:50-2:55. You can start closer to 3 minutes and end closer to 2:50, but the average is usually between 2:50 and 2:55.
  • 12x1200m (90sec break) on average 3:24-3:30.
  • 5 series of (2km, 1km) at 5:40-5:50 and 2:50-2:55.

2. 10-15K intervals work faster than your marathon pace goal.

These are completed faster than marathon pace. Sometimes at a pace of over 800 m!

(Video) Eliud Kipchoge's KILLER Speed Workouts

Examples of exercises:

  • 12x800m in 2:10s (90er Pause), 10x400m in 62s (90er Pause).
  • 1200 m in 3:25, jogging lap, 5 x 1 km in 2:55 (1.30 seconds), jogging lap, 3 x 300 m in 42-40 (1:00 rest), jogging lap, 2 x 200 m in 27 seconds (1:00 break)
  • 20x400m in 64-65sec (50sec Pause)

What was interesting for us about these workouts was that Eliud certainly never got the maximum out of it. He pushed himself, but there were no hands on his knees and no visible struggle on the final rep. He always seemed like he could comfortably do a few more reps if needed.

Thursday – cross-country skiing

A Thursday for Eliud means a long, steady run, between 30km (18.6 miles) and 40km (24.8 miles) and sometimes a second run depending on how he's feeling or if a run is pending.

6.10 a.m.: 30 km or 40 km tempo run

The group starts at 6:10 am in front of the camp in Kaptagat. The first 1-2 km is a run as usual. You run the first kilometer around 5:00 am (often slower) to warm up, after the third kilometer the pace increases.

From there it's a pace of 3:00-3:25 min/km (4:50-5:20 min/mi) depending on where you are. The route they usually take is 90% mountain trails and about 10% roads (mostly flat, sometimes small hills). On the flat road sections, the fastest sections, the pace is around 3:00 min/km (4:50 min/mi). When they reach the hills in the forest, the average pace is between 3:15 and 3:25 min/km (5:10-5:25 min/mi), depending on how hilly it is.

Even if that sounds very fast, many might think "3:20min/km is not your (threshold) pace". However, the terrain they train on is at an elevation of 2,400–2,500 m (7,800 ft) and is very rough. We estimate that you would expect to run 20-25s/km slower in Kaptagat in the forest than you would expect to run on a flat track at sea level. Expect to slow down 10-15s/km on the flat stretches of road in Kaptagat.

These are the times for the speed races in the run-up to the Berlin Marathon 2017:

Thursday 10 August – 30.8 km in 1:42 (average 3:20 min/km)
In this race, a section of the race was so wet that they had to change course and ended up running back to the start point, which meant an extra 800m.

Thursday August 17 – 40 km in 2:14 (average 3:20 min/km)

Thursday August 24 – 30 km in 1:38 (average 3:16 min/km)

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Thursday August 31 – 40 km in 2:13 (average 3:19 min/km)

Saturday – Fartlek

A Saturday for Eliud Kipchoge means a morning fartlek (or “speed” as they call it) practice and an afternoon free or a second easy 10-12K if they feel like it.

6.10am: Fartlek (on trails/road)

There are 7 different Fartlek workouts that Eliud Kipchoge uses in his training.

1. 10 min repetitions with 2 min rest. 4 x 10 minutes is most common, sometimes 5.

2. 8 minute repetitions with 2 minute rest. 6 x 8min is the most common.

3. 6 min repetitions with 2 min rest. 8 x 6min is most common.

4. 4 min repetitions with 2 min rest. 10 x 4min is the most common.

5. 3 min repetitions with 1 min rest. 13 x 3min is most common, sometimes 14-15.

6. 2 min repetitions with 1 min rest. 17 x 2 minutes is most common, sometimes up to 20.

7. 1 minute repetitions with 1 minute rest. 25 x 1min is most common, sometimes up to 30.

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The most commonly used sessions are:

• 4 repetitions of 10 min (2 min rest)

• 13 repetitions of 3 min (1 min rest)

• 25 repetitions of 1 minute (1 minute rest)

These seem to be used twice as often as the others.

The speeds in these workouts (during the intervals) are hard to describe because the courses they use are hilly, so naturally the reps will vary wildly in speed. However, on flat surfaces, the tempo is typically around 2:55 min/km for 10-minute reps and up to 2:45 min/km for 1-minute reps.

The warm up and cool down periods for this workout are not very long, usually only 10 minutes, sometimes up to 15 minutes. That surprised us. In the western world, it's common to drive many miles during the warm-up and cool-down (some take up to 30 minutes), but for Kipchoge, this was short and to the point.

For one particular workout we took part in (12 August 2017: 4 x 10 minutes with 2 minute rests), the entire workout from the start of the warm up to the end of the cool down took less than 1 hour and 20 minutes. They jogged 2km in just under 10 minutes, stretched for 2 minutes and got to work. At the end of the last rep, they went less than 2 minutes before starting cooldown.

These three training courses are presented in the book.Eliud Kipchoge, the fastest marathon runner in historyThey are the main food of Kipchoge and his group. The key here is consistency. The training sessions are carried out by the athletes all year round at altitude with very little variation. While we didn't spend time with Eliud prior to London, there's no doubt that many of the above workouts featured prominently.

Read more articles about Eliud Kipchoge's educationHere.

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Hundreds of runners from all over the world are currently training in ourElite Training Programs.
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