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Running column: Why we could all do with channelling our inner Kipchoge, says Mark Armstrong

Eliud Kipchoge is looking to become the first man to break two hours for a marathon next month in Vienna. Picture: PA

Eliud Kipchoge is looking to become the first man to break two hours for a marathon next month in Vienna. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

In just over two weeks' time Eliud Kipchoge will try to become the first man to break two hours for a marathon.

The 34-year-old Kenyan can already call himself the greatest marathon runner of all time but he insists he wants to leave even more of a legacy - "this is about history".

The sub two-hour marathon was once seen as an unattainable goal and only someone with the strongest of convictions in their ability would set it as a target.

His first attempt to break two hours was in 2017 in Monza and missing out by 25 seconds only appears to have whetted his appetite to have another attempt.

In the meantime he has of course broke the world record in Berlin last year with 2:01:39 and after winning the London Marathon earlier this year he appears to be in the best shape he could be for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

Breaking barriers is what elite sportspeople do - but athletes like Kipchoge are beyond the elite - they're trailblazers.

I was recently reading an interview with him in Runner's World where he was asked if he truly believes he can break two hours and run quicker than anybody ever has before over 26.2 miles.

"I have no doubts," he said.

That may come across as slightly arrogant to some but anyone that has followed Kipchoge's path over the last few years will know that arrogance is probably the last thing you can accuse him of.

Kipchoge has long since realised that to become the best distance runner of all time it goes well beyond physical capability.

Of course, he has a natural talent that countless hours and miles have honed - he's upped his mileage in readiness for this challenge to between 124-140 miles a week.

But it is arguably his mental strength that sets him apart from the other world class athletes he competes against and given him an aura of invincibility.

When he takes to Vienna on October 12 he will have a team of 30 other athletes acting as pacers, all there to help him achieve his goal.

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When you also bear in mind the eyes of the running world will also be firmly fixed on him you start to understand what kind of pressure he's under…it would take most mere mortals some time to get their head around it.

Of course, goals are all relative - Kipchoge's sub two-hour marathon is someone else's sub four-hour marathon or sub 30-minute 5K.

But when chasing these targets, and showing the commitment it entails, you have to ask yourself 'can I really do this?'

Any doubt will be magnified in the heat of battle and you need the strength of mind to stay focused and not let your insecurities win.

"If you want to break through, your mind should be able to control your body," Kipchoge told Runner's World.

"Your mind should be a part of your fitness."

How many runners think like this?

Anyone that has watched Kipchoge would see this serene runner, leading from the front with an effortless, relentless style that simply breaks his rivals in the closing stages of races.

Under that façade he will be feeling it - the fact he doesn't show it only adds to his already legendary status.

So many have training plans to make sure they are physically right for their next race.

I know I've been in races where I'm physically ready but for one reason or another I've been beaten mentally.

What's the best way to overcome this? I think a lot of it comes down to experience and learning how to handle the difficult situations that inevitably crop up in difficult training runs and/or races.

You learn a little bit about yourself each time you're put in that race scenario and keeping your mind disciplined can only help. I know I certainly won't be able to master the seemingly effortless strength of Kipchoge when I take on the Bure Valley 10M race on Sunday... but I can do my best to keep my mind strong in the way he does in those all important closing stages of races.

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