LOOK. Kelvin Kiptum smashed the world record in the marathon in Chicago
A marathon under 2 hours. It seemed like a utopia for years, but since Kelvin Kiptum’s 2h00:35 in the Chicago marathon, it is no longer a question of if, but rather when, someone will break the magical boundary on a street course.
Initially we look at Kiptum himself. The Kenyan – who has now been festively welcomed in his home country – is 23 and has the future ahead of him. As the fastest man in the marathon, he has to take over from his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge (almost 39).
Kiptum himself says he is not working on a marathon under 2 hours. “I just want to improve my personal record,” he said a few weeks ago in Kenya, where it was also announced that he has been selected for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
But first the pause button is pressed. Mandatory, according to Kiptum’s coach. The Rwandan Gervais Hakizimana (36) has been guiding the Kenyan since 2019 and fears overload. “Kelvin is very strong in training. He finishes everything down to the last detail. He’s in his prime now, but I’m afraid he’ll get injured at some point.”
To put his words into perspective, Hakizimana refers to Eliud Kipchoge at the AFP news agency. “He runs between 180 and 220 kilometers every week in the build-up to a marathon. Kelvin is often between 250 and 280 kilometers. There are also weeks where he goes over 300 kilometers.”
Kiptum and Hakizimana did this, for example, in the preparation for the London marathon at the beginning of this year, where Kiptum won in a course record of 2h01:25. “He was then traveling more than 300 kilometers per week for three weeks, a huge volume. Fortunately, he likes to work and puts a lot of effort into his endurance.”
Hakizimana has known Kiptum since 2009. The Rwandan has a history as a distance runner and in the past trained in Chepkorio at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters in the Kenyan highlands. As a 13-year-old sheep herder, Kiptum sometimes accompanied Hakizimana’s training group.
The two became friends and after a first half marathon under one hour in 2019 in Belfort (France), Hakizimana stayed in Kenya during the corona pandemic to further take Kiptum under his wing. In 2021, the duo started working towards the marathon distance.
“The build-up to a marathon will take place in four months,” Hakizimana explains the internal kitchen. In the first month, Kelvin runs 900 kilometers and includes a lot of strength training. In the second month he clocks weeks of 280 to 320 kilometers. In the last month the volume has been reduced a bit.”
“Walking, eating and sleeping: that’s all Kelvin does during those periods. There is no rest day on a weekly basis,” says Hakizimana. “If he shows no signs of fatigue, then we will continue. That can sometimes be a month at a time without a day of rest.”
An enormous burden and Hakizimana realizes that, Kiptum for his part realizes it a little less. “He trains a lot – too much. At this rate there is a real danger of it breaking. I have already advised him to take it easier. To train at a slower speed, but he doesn’t want that.”
That is precisely why the pause button is now being pushed after the Chicago marathon. Hakizimana: “I told Kelvin that if he continues like this, his career will be over in five years. He must remain calm to build a sustainable career.”
The message seems to have gotten through. There are no training sessions planned this month. “Kelvin is someone who likes to communicate and, as an athlete, listens well. We often speak to each other in Swahili and a bit of broken English,” says Hakizimana.
The fact that his Rwandan coach has a history as a steeplechaser is, in addition to the immense training volume, also an explanation for Kiptum’s record time according to athletics followers. Kiptum, at 1.80 m tall and 65 kg, is said to be a ‘hyper responder’ to current running shoes that rely on carbon and foam technologies.
Because Kiptum is slightly heavier than the average marathon runner (Kipchoge weighs 56 kg, for example), he benefits more from the resilient nature of the carbon plates in his shoes (Nike AlphaFly 3). As a former steeple runner, Hakizimana knows better than anyone how to combine jumping and running.
The disadvantage is that the resilient nature of the shoes, especially as a race progresses, places more strain on the muscles and joints of the runner in question. Something that Kiptum can get away with for the time being, precisely because he can handle those insane volumes in training. The question is for how long.
Appointment next year in August in Paris. Or earlier in the spring at the Rotterdam marathon.
An average training week for Kelvin Kiptum
• Monday: morning endurance run of 25 to 28 km at a pace of 3:40 to 4:10/km – 12 km jogging in the afternoon
• Tuesday: 1 hour of interval training on the track in the morning, 12 km of jogging in the afternoon
• Wednesday: morning endurance run of 25 to 28 km at a pace of 3:40 to 4:10/km – 12 km jogging in the afternoon
• Thursday: 30 to 40 kilometers at marathon pace in the morning (3:00/km) – rest in the afternoon
• Friday: morning endurance run of 25 to 28 km at a pace of 3:40 to 4:10/km – 12 km jogging in the afternoon
• Saturday: 1 hour of interval training on the track in the morning, 12 km of jogging in the afternoon
• Sunday: 30 to 40 kilometers at marathon pace in the morning (3:00/km) – rest in the afternoon
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