Series22 Jun 2014

Work, rest and play – Sally Kipyego


Sally Kipyego after her silver medal-winning run in the Daegu 10,000m (© Gety Images)

Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego is one of the world’s finest female distance runners, but what is the Kenyan also like off the track?

We find out more as the US-based athlete, who also won the 2011 world 10,000m silver medal and who has returned to action this year after missing almost all of 2013 through injury, answers our work, rest and play questions.


What is your favourite training session?

Sally Kipyego: 1km reps. They are both painful and necessary.

What is your least favourite training session?

SK: My very least favourite session is when we run repeat 800m, where we run 600m at a high tempo followed by 200m at a floating pace. The floating pace is faster than a jog, so we are not recovering. This is a tough session.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

SK: Firstly, I get to travel a lot and experience different cultures. Secondly, I love the honesty of the sport whereby if you work hard it nearly always translates into improved results. Running is as pure as it can be. The third thing is being taken really good care of when I travel on the circuit. To be treated like a queen while doing the thing I love most is another great thing about being an athlete.

Where is your all-time favourite training venue?

SK: I love being in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is quiet, almost a retreat for me. I love it.

Who is your favourite training partner?

SK: Probably (US international runner) Lauren Fleshman. She was great. She was very honest in training, there was no playing around. She was much more serious (about her training) and more mature. I respected her.


Where is your favourite place to relax?

SK: My home. It is the place where I am most relaxed, at peace and at my happiest. It is as simple as that.  

What is your favourite stress reliever?

SK: Shopping (laughs). If I’ve had a really tough week, I’ll come back from church on a Sunday, and then go shopping. I need to be left alone to run the malls. I indulge in shopping. It is very rare for me to come back and not buy a piece of jewellery. After I’ve been shopping, I can then get started for the next week.

Describe your perfect non-training day.

SK: I would sleep in until 10am and have a late brunch. In my mind it would be a summer day. I’d then take a walk and go out to a movie.

If you could pick one track and field athlete with whom to relax for a day, who would it be and why?

SK: It would be David Oliver (world 110m hurdles champion). He’s such an inspiration. He seems like a really together guy. He’s very laid back, yet really motivated. He has that perfect balance between competitiveness and an easy-going nature.

What is your favourite TV show to relax to?

SK: Modern Family; that is my go-to show.

What is your favourite meal?

SK: If I could have someone cook for me it would be chapati and chicken curry.


You have a real passion for music. What do you like to listen to?

SK: I love gospel music and I also listen to lots of African music from Kenya or South Africa. I love the rhythm of music and its universal nature. I have always appreciated that about music.

Who is your all-time favourite artist or band?

SK: Definitely Michael Jackson. He’s a character, a legend. I grew up with his music. It is always so upbeat and it really wakes me up if I’m feeling a little sluggish. That is the kind of music I like to get psyched up to. 

What is your favourite music to chill out to?

SK: I would definitely say R&B.

Is there any music you wouldn’t listen to?

SK: Rock music is a little bit heavy. A tough one for me to take.

If you could form an athletics band, who would be in your band and why?

SK: I like the energy of Ezekiel Kemboi (Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion) so he’d be my drummer. Maybe Nick Willis (the 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medallist) might be the singer. He seems like a good addition to the band. I like the energy and attitude of Milcah Chemos (world 3000m steeplechase champion) and I'd also have Vivian Cheruiyot (the 2011 world 5000m and 10,000m champion). She’s a bit feisty and would make a good conductor.

Steve Landells for the IAAF