The 01:59 Challenge:
This weekend was a special one in the history of athletics. One of the biggest barriers in the athletics world was shattered. “Eliud Kipchoge” the GOAT (greatest of all time) from Kenya created history and became the first man to run the marathon (~42 Kms) in under 2 hours in Vienna, Austria.
Though not “official”, given a few tweaks to the approach used, it’s a remarkable feat and probably as big as the first moon landing- if you’re into that.
The anatomy of planning and executing to perfection a project of this nature is probably something we can all learn from to motivate us to go beyond our self imposed barriers, both professionally and personally and exceed our potential.
Here are a few that come to mind:
(1) Don’t give up your dreams because someone says it’s “impossible”. Breaking this record was on the minds of every marathoner for over a century now, and scientists predicted it would not be earlier that 2032 that this could be done. Infact this was not Eliuds first attempt at the record – but he went ahead, learnt from his mistakes and did it anyways
(2) Surround yourself with people committed to your success. Eliud had a team of over 40+ “pacers”- an elite pack of world class runners in the 5K who took turns to keep the pace for eliud throughout the run and reduce aerodynamic “drag” by positioning themselves in a “V” formation ahead of him. Who do you surround yourself with defines your success ultimately. Do you only have some “fair weather” friends? Or do you have some who will be with you through the rough times.
(3) Equip yourself with the right set of tools. The Nike “Vaporfly next%” is the patented high tech running shoes with liquid chambers and carbon inserts that eliud used to give him that edge on the road. Also a “pace” car in front of the pack ensured the runners were kept abreast of timing. Invest in tools that enhance your effectiveness. Read up as much as possible, because finally the power of your ideas differentiates you from the crowd.
(4) Small gains add up. Any improvement that shaved off even a millisecond was considered before the race. Focus on the small, easy wins in your life and do what it takes to get them done
(5) Break down your long term goals into smaller ones. A marathon is essentially a series of 5 km runs. Focus on one 5k at a time.
(6) Choose the right environment. A 3 km park strip at sea level with a less than 3 metre gradient was why Vienna in Austria was chosen also October is probably the best from a weather (humidity, wind speed, etc) perspective for marathons in Vienna. Developing the right environment for your team if you’re a manager is crucial for their success
(7) Understand the conditions you’re operating in and take advantage of the rules, without breaking them. Eliud had team mates on bikes who handed him
Drinks on the run without the need for him to break stride and pick them up. When you’re going after the big goals, you’re definitely going to step on a few toes to get things done- pick your battles though.
(8) Compete with yourself. Eliud wasn’t competing with anyone else- he just ran with only one goal- break the record- not beat anyone. Remember others don’t need to lose for you to win and the Best results happen when you’re focussed on becoming better than you were yesterday.
(9) A Marathon is a test of the mind as much as it is a physical one – are you in it for the long haul? Long distance running is as much mental as it is a physical challenge. When you hit “the wall” at around the 20th kilometre and your body says “give up”, its about staying humble enough to acknowledge the fatigue, but waiting it out and running through it
Now there…. go break those barriers!