Weeks 4/5 from Kenya

The days keep rolling by here in Iten. Run, eat, sleep, eat, run, eat, sleep is my daily routine. It is really that simple. Last week I ran eleven times, which means four doubles. I have only taken two days off and one of them was on day 3 due to a slight achilles strain. My weekly mileage progression is: 77, 69 (travel week, achilles), 94, 95, 104, 126 (in km’s). I would have liked to have run more in Iten, but injury in April forced me to come back very slowly. Also, 126k in Iten is much more difficiult than 126k in Calgary. All of my running is at 7,500-8,000 feet elevation and on very hilly terrain. On Sunday I ran 25k at an average pace of 4:42/km, with net drop of 500 feet during the first half, all gained in the second half. I finished with 6 x 45 second surges. Not a very difficult workout, but taxing nonetheless. I have been getting two massages per week which I feel are helping with recovery, thus permitting more volume.

A combination of increased training volume, altitude, poor sleep, and who knows what else, left me exhausted for most of last week. It is only the last three days that I have recovered. Several of the regular guys in camp take supplements with B vitamins and iron. I purchased a “blood booster” from the chemist in town which will hopefully top up any deficiencies. No, it is not EPO, although I have been told there is plenty available for those who want it! All of my EPO production has been organic.

Teaching at St. Patrick’s continues to be a load of fun. At the end of each class I like to take to give the students an opportunity to ask questions about Canada, what I do, etc. In the last class I invited them to ask my anything, which is a risky invitation to a bunch of 16-18 year olds! The top three questions were: How old are you? Are you married? Do you have a sister? Lol. I responded to the kid who asked me the last question: do you have a sister? how old is she? The class erupted in laughter. I think the students like their mzungu teacher because I treat them like my equals, and of course they are. If you can’t laugh in math class why bother showing up?

After one class I returned to the principal’s office for a debrief, and who do I find him talking to? The one and only Brother Colm O’Connell. If you don’t know who he is, just google him. Briefly, Brother Colm established the St. Patrick’s youth running camp which has allowed him to identify and train gifted athletes. Many have gone on to become world champions and olympic medalists. I chatted with Brother Colm for about 10 minutes in the principal’s office and he invited me to watch a few of his runners do diagonals on a field inside the St. Patrick’s compound. After waiting around for about 20 minutes I noticed a group of athletes making their way to the field. I watched them do their warm up around the perimeter. And then I spotted him: David Rudisha! Brother Colm and I chatted while watching the workout. We talked a lot about Rudisha’s build up to London 2012, perhaps the best track race in history (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKEOjWEzVGs). I found it really interesting that Brother Colm didn’t say a word before, during, or after the workout. He just observed and then left. Although to be fair, there isn’t much to do this late in the track season.

A few of us also had the opportunity to watch Rudisha’s workout the next day. We met at Brother Colm’s house and then loaded up in his car. The four athletes would do a 2 minute on, 2 minute off fartlek session. Brother Colm would signal the on/off with his car’s horn! Brother Colm talked about how well Kenyans are able to turn everything off and truly rest: no distractions. He lamented that in west we are always busy doing something and lack the ability to truly turn off. He left us all with a great quote: “It is only an average man who feels he always has to be at his best”. What a day, and what a man.


I haven’t thought too much about work, but when I do, I always arrive at the same conclusion. I will never work for a large corporation again, unless on contract. But my preference is to work with a small group where each individual is a significant member of the team. No room for bullshit. There is an outfit in Calgary I really like and I think the feeling is mutual. So I will look into that opportunity when I get back. If it doesn’t work out I will consider more travel.


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