Endurance runner’s wise words for younger self

Endurance runner’s wise words for younger self

BULLETPROOF: Kenenisa Bekele holds the
men’s world record for the 5,000m and 10,000m

DURING AN illustrious career, running great Kenenisa Bekele has bagged three Olympic and 17 senior world titles.

But the world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder has something to say to his younger self.

Since the World Championships in 2003 when a young Bekele was told by the great Haile Gebrselassie to pass him in the home straight of the 10,000m to take gold aged 21, the world has marvelled at the achievements of the Ethiopian.

In a recent letter to his younger self, published by the International Association of Athletics Federations, Bekele highlights some of the flaws he had as an aspiring athlete, the type of which few would have been aware of…

“Young Kenenisa, from an early stage of your athletics development, you acknowledged the importance of discipline. Continue to listen to your coaches, remain focused, and this will help you enjoy many great successes.

“Not many athletes will achieve what you did on the global stage at such a young age. Your career will evolve into one of the greatest in history.

“You will win three Olympic gold medals and five outdoor world titles on the track. You will set world 5000m and 10,000m records and, looking in from the outside, many might assume you would change very little.

“However, young Kenenisa: you do not always train perfectly. Sometimes you will undertrain and you may not always have access to the best physiotherapy. These may prove crucial in achieving your career goals.

“Oh, and on the subject of physio, try to look after your body. You may feel bulletproof – especially during some of your greatest triumphs – but ignoring physiotherapy will create problems in the aftermath, especially during your marathon career. Injuries can – and will – cause huge frustration.

“During times when you struggle with injury, you may feel despondent and demotivated. You may not always be fully committed to carrying out the correct rehab exercises. But this will only make the marathon an even more difficult event to master.

“Maintaining fitness levels and full health as an athlete in your mid-30s will be hard. But don’t give up. Stick with it and aim to sign off your career on a high.

“Listen to your body and make necessary sacrifices. If you do that, you can fulfil your marathon potential and finish your career with a flourish. Kenenisa.”

By Steve Landells for the IAAF