World 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi was a one-lap sprinter before he focused on the metric mile. He explains how he did it – and why you can too.
“Before I was a 1500m runner, I had been working with my coach who had done many things on the track, with sprinting and the 400m,” Elijah Manangoi tells SPIKES.
“I decided to move to the 1500m because I never achieved anything when I was training for the 400m. I went to the national trials in 2014 before the World Relays in the Bahamas. I finished in 7th position. I was so disappointed. I told my coach, ‘Let’s do another thing. Maybe we can try the 1500m’.
“My coach told me that first of all we should try the 800m. I didn’t try it – I told him my focus was for the 1500m. My mind was settled. It had already shifted to 1500.
“I didn’t want to do the 800m because, at that time, I liked the 1500m. There were some guys running it that made me have to watch, more than the eight. In particular I used to watch Bernard Lagat, from the US. And also Asbel Kiprop, he is a very senior, big man to me. I really, really liked to watch him running, and that’s why I shifted to 1500m directly.
“The increase in training load affected me for around two months. When I was running 400m I used to do some endurance, hill work and gym, and go for long runs of an hour. So I was doing training for 1500m, but I was running 400m.
“That was a big advantage when I shifted, I already had the endurance and I could manage the training. It was not a big deal because I’d been working on so many things for the 1500m, which is why I didn’t get any injuries or anything. I changed my regime in the gym.”
“More reps and lighter weights?” we ask. “Yes, exactly,” Manangoi replies.
“Right now, I am still running the 400m in local races in Kenya. I can still run 46.0, 45.5, if it’s on a good track with good competition and good competitors. I run it to get the best speed and keep that kick for the last lap of the 1500m.
“I’m 25 now. Am I thinking about longer distances in the future? Yeah. Maybe ten years from now I can do the 10k or 5k.
“When it comes to the 800m, you have to run like crazy! I have a 1:44 from Kenya, and I ran in Rome this year and got 1:45. But I’ve never run a very good race in the 800m, in the Diamond League. If I got it right I could go 1:43 – 100 per cent.
“I’d tell anyone who is considering changing distances that anything is possible. Anything and everything.
“If you believe in something, it will come. If you focus on something, and you want to do it, then do it. Then it will come automatically.”