Kelvin Kiptum and Eliud Kipchoge, How Do They Differ?

By Rogelio Castillo Jr. 

November 17, 2023

In the world of extreme running, marathons are what people typically think of. A marathon is where thousands of people run 26.2 miles, or 42 kilometers at a time in huge races such as the Boston, New York and Chicago marathons here in the US. There are also many other popular marathons elsewhere; Valencia, Paris, London, and Tokyo to name a few. These events have people everywhere flying to these locations just to race. For a few marathons a year, top runners such as Kelvin Kiptum and Eliud Kipchoge attempt to set the world record and be known as the fastest person on the planet. As of 2023, Kiptum currently has the recognised world record with a time of 2:00:35; Kipchoge is the only person in the world who has a sub two hour marathon, finishing in 1:59:40, although this is considered unofficial. These two people train rigorously, however they train under different ideals. 

Photo of marathoners during the New York City Marathon, by Scott McDermott

Eliud Kipchoge during the Nike “Breaking 2” event. (Photo credit: Kamil Krzaczynski/ AFP and Nike respectively)

What is Eliud Kipchoge’s training plan?

Eliud Kipchoge is most likely the name people know of between the two, since he has been taking the world records until this year. He has been coached by Patrick Sang, three time silver medalist for the steeplechase. Although Eliud is one of the fastest in the world, he does not have a special training plan. Instead, he runs every day, morning and afternoon. Sunday afternoons are when he takes a break out of the week, but the majority of his runs are at an easy pace. There are only three weekly sessions where he does a workout- Tuesdays are speed days on the track, Thursdays are long runs that end with marathon effort, and Saturdays have Kipchoge running fartleks. Kipchoge has been using the 80/20 rule, where about 80% of his training is lots of easy miles, while 20% of his runs are difficult. He also pays attention to the rest of his health, keeping every aspect of his health as good as possible. This includes quality sleep, balanced nutrition and ice baths to help soothe muscles.

Kelvin Kiptum during the 2023 Chicago Marathon. (Photo credit: Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP)

How does Kelvin Kiptum’s training differ?

Kelvin Kiptum is more aggressive in his training. There is also no silver bullet to his training. If there was a secret, it would be that he runs a bit more than Kipchoge. While Kipchoge runs more or less 125 miles a week, Kiptum is in the range of 150 to 175 miles a week. There are few people who can endure these many miles a week. 100 miles a week would mean running over 14 miles a day. Even his own coach, Gervais Hakizimana, believes that the risk of injury is increasing due to his fast training pace. In an interview with LetsRun, he stated, “I suggested he lower the pace but he doesn’t want to, he talks to me about the world record people all the time. I told him that in five years he would be done, that he must calm down to last in athletics.” With this high mileage, he does easy runs twice every day, with a track or fartlek workout on Tuesdays and Saturdays, long runs that are near marathon pace on Thursday and Saturday. With four workout sessions a week, it is without question that his coach may want to slow the pace down.

In short, the fastest marathon runners in the world have rigorous training plans with their respective coaches. While Eliud Kipchoge is more conservative on most of his runs, Kelvin Kiptum is running more miles and doing more workouts. Although they train differently, they are both the fastest runners on the planet and will likely be the fastest for the next few years.