Life Lessons Learned From Eliud Kipchoge’s Speech At Oxford

By Scott Olberding

February 6, 2018

In December, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge spoke at the Oxford Union and shared some of the many lessons that he has learned over the span of his career on the track and the roads. We decided to watch the full 49-minute video of his speech and pull out some of the best quotes that you can take and reflect upon throughout the day.

“The world is actually full of challenges and we need to challenge ourselves. I took a challenge to run that fast. It consumes a lot of energy especially mentally. But I took myself and accepted to be challenged and I challenged the time.”

“I had a friend in India who told me that – the guys is 50 years now – and he told me he will die before we see a human being run two hours flat. I met him one month ago in New York and I joked ‘You will never die again because you have seen me run two hours.’”

Here are the factors that Eliud Kipchoge says you need to consider for success. Parts of the speech have been lightly edited for clarity:

Self Discipline

“Self-discipline starts with you. It’s no other person. It starts with you. Start to examine yourself…Self discipline is doing what’s right instead of doing what you feel like doing. That’s the meaning of self-discipline.”

“After accommodating self discipline in your mind, self-discipline can help you to actually get three things. It can save your feelings. Get you back on the course when you try to think otherwise, self discipline can help easily come back and think positively. It helps you do the right thing in the moment for long-term benefits.”

“You should stick to your priorities.”

“Don’t make excuses. When you have decided to do something, do it. No excuses. Then you are self-disciplined.”

“Make discipline your lifestyle. Discipline is not a one-time event. Self-discipline is like building your muscle. It’s like going to the gym. You can not go to the gym today and build your muscle. You should get a program and go slowly by slowly. That’s the way to build your muscle and that’s the way you can have discipline.”

“Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you aren’t disciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions. That’s a fact.”

“There is a sign in one of the nicer schools in Canada. It [says] the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. That was the best time to plant a tree. The second-best time is today. Plant the tree of self-discipline.”

Planning and Preparation

“I believe in a philosophy that says to win is actually not important. To be successful is not even important. How to plan and prepare is critical and crucial. When you plan very well, then success can come on your way. Then winning can come on your way.

Think Positive

“In any profession, you should think positively. That’s the driver of your mind. If your mind is really thinking positive then you are on the right track. ‘Pleasure in what you’re doing puts perfection in your work.’ That was a quote by Aristotle.”


“I am here because of teamwork. I am here because sport is a mutual interest. I am here to talk about my success because I am really about teamwork. Teamwork actually helps a lot. Remember in sport, what you have is Hero’s Formula. If you are a hero, then you have a formula and that says 100% of myself is nothing compared to one percent of the whole team. And vice versa. 1% percent of the teams is nothing compared to 100% of myself. And that’s the meaning of teamwork.”


“The law of consistency says you should get motivated. Motivation makes you move. Motivation makes you to go forward.”

“When you bring motivation and discipline (together), then you can be consistent. When you combine it all together, they say if you want to grow, consistency is the key. I’m confident in saying that consistency is key if you want to grow in a new profession. Be it sport. Be it law. Be it all sorts of professions. If you are not consistent, you can not go anywhere. Consistency makes you to grow.”

Be comfortable with being out of your comfort zone

“Accept change…I know it is not really comfortable to adopt change but change in life of a human being or life of any profession is really important. But change can not be forced.”

Believing in yourself

“Personally, I believe in what I am doing. To run a big marathon and win, it takes five months. When I am on the starting line, my mind starts to think of what I have been doing for the last five months. I believe in my training. I treat myself as the best one on that line because my mind is telling me that I am the best and I believe in what I am doing in the last five months. I can run free. I can run free and that’s what actually has helped me to be successful.”

Scott Olberding

Full-time accountant, amateur marathoner and statistics editor for Citius Mag. Focused on creating arithmetic visualization and writing narrative for data-centric athletic ideas. Founding member of the JBAC and University of Portland Alumnus. Hosted Paul Snyder on his recruiting trip to UP, taking him to an Astronomy class. Although Paul did not commit, they have since become great friends.