The world’s fastest marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge, says you need more ‘vitamin N’ in your life. Vitamin N, Kipchoge explains, is the ability to say no–a key part of self-discipline, something Kipchoge embodies in his athletic ability and the calm confident ease with which he speaks and conducts his life.
Kipchoge shared some tips on how to develop and maintain self-discipline in a recent interview with U.K.-based physician, author and podcast host Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. Here’s how to inject some of Kipchoge’s wisdom into the way you run and live.
Develop self-discipline as a practice
Kipchoge emphasizes the importance of self-discipline as a core value. “Self-discipline is doing what’s right instead of doing what you feel like doing,” the athlete explains. While Kipchoge embodies self-discipline in his training and preparation for racing, he says that fine-tuning this skill will make you not only a better runner but also stronger in your professional life and family.
The runner shares that he believes you should practice self-discipline in all areas of your life–and that by doing so, you will find freedom. “The disciplined ones in life are free,” the athlete says. “It’s the undisciplined ones who are in prison,” Kipchoge says. He explains: when you live an undisciplined life, you’re doing things that do not align with your values. “We need to be free, to walk free, to live an honest life,” he says.
Set your priorities (learn to say no)
While Kipchoge acknowledges that learning to say no is a skill that isn’t developed overnight, he shares that being able to say no will help you prioritize the truly important things in both training and life. At the NN Running camp in Kaptagat, Kenya, where Kipchoge trains and lives, he has placed a huge billboard to remind athletes of their core values– a whopping 60 of them.
Kipchoge suggests focusing on three values or priorities is enough, and making the personal and professional choices that will keep you on the path to your goals should be something you practice daily. Establishing boundaries allows you to stay focused and on the path toward your goals.
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Avoid complaining and stay positive
Kipchoge knows this isn’t easy. Even the champion of the marathoning world feels pain and has negative thoughts. “We can’t prevent the negative thoughts from entering into our minds–but we can keep the negativity from coming into our lives,” he says. Pivotal to the athlete’s positive mindset is community. “Group runs are crucial,” says Kipchoge. The athlete explains that running in a group helps time pass, forms bonds and that a group mentality and positive mindset is contagious.