Kenyan Methodologies That Can Make You a Better Runner
Athletes from the Great Rift Valley area currently dominate the world of running. They include Kenya, Ethopia, Uganda and Etrirea and of these the Kenyans are the most prolific. Tony's experience with the Kenyan athletes goes back to the mid 1960's when he watched Kip Keino and Ron Clarke go head to head over 5000m in Melbourne. In the years to follow he would race greats such as Keino, Wilson Kiprugut, Amos Biwott and Ben Jipcho, spent time with Kenyan athletes and coaches during his period as National Coach of Australia and, most significantly, lecturing in Kenya on five occasions for the IAAF at the African Region Level 2 courses as well as visiting the major training area in and around Eldoret.
My experiences with East African athletes confirms many of the conventional wisdoms about success in middle and long distance running that were promulgated in the 1950's by the likes of Arthur Lydiard and Percy Cerutty. In particular things like:
1. having, or ensuring a child has, an active childhood that includes plenty of walking and running or, for older athletes spending time developing a sound base before getting to involved in higher intensity training.
2. developing of a high level of basic speed over the sprint distances so the athlete is capable of high quality times across events shorter than the selected race event.
3. including high volume training, at appropriate times during the periodised year, so the athlete is capable of high quality times in events longer than the selected race event.
4. developing sound technique and the stamina to sustain it under pressure during racing and training.
5. eating a healthy, natural diet (see Diet in Kenya) and getting adequate rest - most African athletes are in bed by 9 pm.
6. listening to your body - Africans rarely 'force' their training sessions - but training hard' when required, so you will 'win easy'.
7. training, for elite athletes, up to three times daily, supplemented by flexibility and agility exercises.
8. Train in hills regularly - long hills, short hills, steep hills, shallow hills, hill fartlek, etc.