Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Story about Ego and Arrogance

Stories That Facinated Me During My Running Days

Jane Fonda (Left) and Jennifer Lopez (Right) in the Movie

Ego - The cause of a person's down fall. One of the five vices.

Stories From the East

In India, there was an incident where two ladies in the house were arguing and quarrelling. One of them was the mother-in-law and the other was the daughter-in-law. The argument was getting worse and worse to the point that there was shouting and screaming, except for the throwing of pots and pans.

Suddenly, to save the situation, fortunately, a beggar was standing outside the door asking for alms. At first, he did not see anyone coming. When the daughter-in-law heard the beggar, she immediately attended to this by going to the front door and opened the door promptly. Seeing this, The mother-in-law also made her move towards the door. Before, the mother-in-law could attend to the beggar, the daughter-in-law started asking the person what he exactly wants.

The beggar was very happy to hear this and told the daughter-in-law that he wants some rice. The daughter-in-law told the beggar that she does not have any rice in a stern and firm manner. Hearing this, the beggar started to leave the place at once with disappointment. He was walking swiftly for some 50metres from the house and then all of a sudden someone else called him back to the house again. It was the mother-in-law. The beggar saw hope and he was smiling. He thought that the mother-in-law was kind enough to not turn him away. Seeing this, the mother-in-law spoke kindly and told the beggar to wait while she had to go inside. After a period of 5mins, the beggar lost all patience and started calling out loud to the mother-in-law to come and attend to him. Finally, the mother-in-law came out of the house empty handed.

When she saw the beggar, she told him to go. The beggar got mad at this. He asked the mother-in-law the intention of stopping him from going to other place for food. To this, the mother-in-law told that she is the real decision maker of the house and not the daughter-in-law. She told, " Who is she to make a decision?" Then, the beggar realised that actually he only wasted his time by coming back to the house. He left the place finally with a bigger disappointment.

Ego - An Analysis
When the daughter-in-law had told him a no to the beggar for food, the mother-in-law should have just not bothered to call the poor beggar back. The poor beggar had actually wasted his time for other person's whim. I find that the ego of the mother-in-law is unnecessary as the answer was already given by the daughter-in-law. It only wasted the beggar's time, that's all. The result was the same - no food. This is ego. A fall in a man comes when ego and pride appears first. Ego appears before a man's fall. Ego is being not natural and egolessness is our natural self. Egolessness leads to fearlessness and there will be no nervousness in a person.

Applicable to Running
If you take your time as the opponent, there is no ego. You are in fact challenging against your own self. Hence, since it is your own self, one will not feel stressed to perform. When you know that the enemy or opponent is you yourself, we tend to go for goals that we can achieve easily. You are not afraid of your own self.

If you take your opponent as your target, you may not have a peaceful sleep the night before. The target may not be gradual, systematic and progressive. It could be something that cannot be achieved. Furthermore, when one loses, the ego is affected and depression may set in. In the case of losing to your own timing, one will strive to achieve the time one has done or a little bit better. This will give one less stress. The only person you are going to lose is oneself. Our great runner from Malaysian, M. Ramachandran has done this and had achieved success most of the time, if not everytime. Also, I had this form of experience of doing well during race by concentrating in improving my own time rather than concentrating on winning. Winning will take place by itself automatically. Hence, no nervousness and only fearlessness will set in. The muscles will be relaxed. 

It is good to note that ego is not one's self. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Training Secrets of the Kenyan Runners (Part 3)

Kenya Training - Running to Win

Picture 1 -  Haile Gabreselassie from Ethiopia (Nominated as the Best Long Distance Runner Ever and Current World Marathon Record Holder 2hrs 03min 59sec) and Paul Tergat from Kenya ( 5 times World Cross-Country Championships ; Former World Marathon Record Holder 2hrs 04min 55sec) giving the thumps up. A mark of true sportsmanship shown through friendship after a competition.

During my stay in Kenya, on one of the day, I went for a run at Kaptagat Forest once. The forest was very nice to run. The width of the route was around 3 metres. The slope was gradual and it can go for 1km up and 1km down. The gradient is about 1-3 percent. It was very hard to see any very steep hill/s. On the other hand, in MacRitchie Reservoir (Singapore), we do have hills. However, these hills are considered steep to my standard. From my experience, it is not advisable to do long runs in a terrain which has many steep hills. One gets tired easily and get knee injury if run repetitively daily. It is possible to get achilles tendon injury.

The long runs should be done on a flat terrain which has soft surface. This allows a person to have more distance during the run. I realised that the Kenyan terrain allows one not to get injury easily. The track is made up of sandy track. Near Kip Keino Training Camp, there was no synthetic track was found. In fact Mike Kosgei, the former coach who led the National Team for 15 years, believes that athletes should avoid training on the tarmac and on a synthetic track because it brings alot of injuries. He also feels that a lot of injuries are come from running on synthetic tracks.

Picture 2 - Terrain is usually flat and filled with plenty of very gradual upslopes and downslopes

Poverty in Kenya has driven some to succeed in running to be successful in life. For a Kenyan, it is an avenue to travel and seize opportunity. Poverty makes the runners to work very hard to do well in running. It is not just the altitude training that matters. The attitude of the runner also matters much to do well in Kenya. I have seen the attitude of the runners doing the workout in Kenya. The Kenyans do the workout 10 times more with good attitude than what we do in Singapore. It is good to witness this and if one wants to see this attitude, which is shown outwardly, one should be present during the workout. It just strengthens ones mind. Also, with less luxury, the Kenyans are very tough inside. I feel that luxurious life of rich people will only make one attached to materials more for better comforts, which is usually not that helpful to a person who wants to do well. More comforts means less tolerance to pain.

Picture 3 - Poverty makes one to run or walk to school enabling one to exercise their body from formative years.

Most of the hotels have chapati, a kind of Indian food which is made of wheat.  Chapati (looks like an omelette but is prepared only flour and water). The Kenyans sometimes include rice to their food. So that explains why they get the slow energy throughout the day (glycogen) and fast energy (glucose). Another important food that the Kenyans consume and is a basic Kenyan food is Ugali (a thick mash made out of boiled white corn/maize meal and water, at least once a day). The ugali is known as a super stable food.

Picture 4 - Kenyan food ugali (Staple food of the Kenyans providing good vitamins and minerals and trace elements in the diet)

The weather was cooling to run in any time of the day. I used to think, in the past. that the weather in Kenya is hot like those found in Sahara Desert. However, this was proven wrong when I was there. I found the weather to be cooling most of the time. The humidity level is much lower that those found in hot countries. The weather is great to do workouts during most of the months, except for November and December, where you will experience the winter time. It is in a way harder to run at this time of the year as the weather will be very cold.

Picture 5 - Kenyan weather is usually cooling or cold but not hot and the humidity level is low and generally dry.

Friendly People
Nearly all Kenyas, the rich and poor, are generally very friendly towards people. Nearly everyone tend to smile, even those who were found to be poor. When I was there, I found that it was very easy to mix with them. If you take up some of the language, Swahili, and converse with the Kenyans, they will tend to think of you as a very good friend or a brother. Even just calling a person 'jumbo' is enough to make one a friend of the Kenyan people. The Kenyan runners, even though theyrun competitively, tend to look relaxed throughout the day by smiling most of the time. Rarely they frown. 

Picture 6 - People are usually smiling, by nature, most of the time even during stress. 'Nevermind' and 'that's ok' are some of their key words to allay a stressful situation. It takes at least 55 muscles in the face to frown and at around half of the 55 muscles to smile. Less energy expended this way. Even during poverty, they smile. This is my true experience.

It was very hard to get the massage person to help all athletes. Top athletes are given opportunities to have massage as a daily thing. Massage is another reason for the Kenyans to do well in sports. I was able to have my massage in Kenya, after sometime. I believe the massage will be able to make a person to recover faster. Massage will enable the muscles to loosen up. I felt that, at the elite level, massaging is important to recover and perform well in running

Picture 7 -Massage is something that is very hard to come by. It is a privelege for those who do very well and are the elite runners.

Raising the Women Standard
The runners during workout are usually men but they also have women in the group. The reason for putting women runners in the men's workout group is to make the girls to work very hard and improve in running. At a high standard, the athletes were working very hard and do the workout. The girls were fortunate in doing workout with the men.

Picture 8 - The Kenyan women athletes doing workouts are fealess of doing workouts with men and have the attitude to chase men who are elite as well.

All year round, the Kenyan athletes train and rest only for 5 weeks in a year. This is a magical formula which allows an athlete not to get burn out or get oneself very lethargic. They also know that 5 weeks in a year is enough to make the body to recover and recoil back in training. During the 5 weeks of rest, the Kenyans athletes, in fact, usually feel the hunger rising to train harder in training and they will look forward to do this. During the 5 weeks, they will not focus on anything to do with running and they usually attend to things that they have missed in life, such as, being with the family, after being in the training camps, where they have to stay in most of the time. They have off-season, pre-season, mid-season and finally the competition season to work on throughout the year.

Picture 9 - Periodisation allows proper planning to ensure success in the long-run in long distance running.

Goal Setting
Once the Kenyan coaches set a target for the Kenyan runners to attain, they train very hard to attain the sub-goals. Even during the off-season, they do workouts which keeps them ready to prepare well for the very intensive season, even though the goals during the off-season is not too high. I realised that there is conditioning workout goals that are quite hard to attain, but the Kenyans runners work very hard to attain it. Many athletes I talk to generally talk about coming in first in future in international races and become a world class runner. They have big dreams.

 Picture 10 - Talks given on goal-setting, the answer to achieving any impossible tasks at hand. There are sub-goals and long-term goals set.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rishi(Sage) Pose - For a Great Hip Flexibility

Rishi (Sage) Pose - For Hip Flexibility

Benefits of Rishi (Sage) Pose

(1) Strengthens the back and spine
(2) Promotes flexibility
(3) Balances your body
(4) Streamlines the waist

Directions on how to do the Rishi Pose.
Make a jump and make your legs and feet go astride, more than shoulder width apart. Hands are to be at the side of the body. In standing position, breathe in and at the same time bring the arms outstretched at shoulder height, palms open with fingers touching each other. The toes should be facing forward. Breathe out and go down in a relaxed manner using the left hand fingers to touch the right foot. Do this by breathing out at the same time. While in this position, ensure that the other hand is up as like shown in the picture. The hand should be such that one should be able to see the palm of the hand that is up. The other hand should be on the toes. On the next inhalation lift the arms outwards to shoulder height with the palms facing down. Exhale and lower to torso down placing the right hand on your left ankle, shin or knee, twisting the back slightly. Raise the left arm up with the palms facing you. The eyes should be able to see the palm that is up.

Hold the posture for about 20 seconds by breathing normally. Breathing in, come out of this pose, bring the pose to the original standing pose with hands outstretched. The arms, as usual, should be outwards to shoulder height with the palms facing down. Release the pose by breathing out and the hands coming down to the side of the body. Then, jump in from legs astride position to legs and feet coming together.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sahara Desert 250km Challenge - 25th Oct 2009

Sahara Desert 250km Run - The Fantastic Three

Mika Kume- In action in one of the race that she had taken part in

Mika Kume is one of those who came with me to Kenya in 2001. She went there to train swimming, cycling and running. During my stay there, I found her to be one of the fittest in the triathlon group from Singapore that joined us in Kenya. Over time, after the Kenya Trip (10 days), we were back in Singapore. After that inspirational tour, in year 2002, I trained hard to do a 1hr 17min and came in as the champion for the Army Half Marathon (21.1km) Men Open, local section. Over time, in year 2008, at the age of 43, I came in first for the Men Open local champion in the Standard Chartered Marathon (42.195km). As far as Mika Kume is concerned, I realised that she came in as a champion for the Desaru Long Distance Triathlon 2009, for 35 years old and above, Women Veteran category.

Recently, from my former class-mate, Johnson Jacob, I realised that there were some people who were about to take part in the Sahara Desert 250km run, last year (2009). I was thinking that anyone who takes part in this race must be crazy. The reason is because these people will have to prepare their training very well and must be physically and mentally very strong to endure pain. At that time, I did not have any blog to write about this but I had all the admiration to those who want to push their limits. I also did not believe that Johnson will take part in this race as he was not that active during his teenage years. It was very surprising to find that my very own former primary school class-mate now is doing Ironman race and Ultramarathon races in an active fashion.

Last week, I told myself to do an interview on the three people who went from Singapore to take part in this event, the mixed group who trained in Singapore and brought the Singapore flag to the Sahara Desert. Since, two of them are available - Johnson and Mika - I decided to do an interview on them.
Before discussing on the Sahara Challenge, Johnson has taken part in the Gobi Desert 250km. Let me ask him about this before we look at the Sahara Challenge.

An Interview with Johnson

What is your age now?
 Johnson: 45

What was the year that you took part competitively?
Johnson: The year was 2003. On the day that I started training around May for Triathlon, I also gave up smoking totally.

Which was your first competition?
Johnson: It was on July 2003m, I took part in the Port Dickson triathlon event consisting of   1.5km swim 40 cycle and followed by a 10km run. Our friend, by the name of Christian, is right now is attempting his first ever ironman in Paris. The race is coming in a week's time.

How many Ironman race have you taken part in?
Johnson: 6 times.

Can you tell me your personal best time for the Ironman?
Johnson: It was held in Langkawi 2007. I did it in a time of 13hr 34min.
I have completed 3 marathons already.

Interview to Mika and Johnson on the Sahara Desert 250km run.

When was Sahara Desert 250km race held?
Mika : 25th Oct 2009

How many athletes did the team consists of?
Mika : Three

Can you name the people who took part in this challenge?
Mika: Christian, Johnson Jacob and myself.

When did you decide to train for this type of challenge?
Mika: I cannont remember exactly when but it was around May ?

Johnson: I started training for this from June 2008 with my friends Christian and Steven Lim

How was the feeling like when you know you are about to do this type challenge?
Mika: Scared, the only fear I had was I had to carry my own baggage.

Johnson: Nervous. because one blister is enough to affect our movement. It is a matter of time when you are going to get it. The heat was blistering with 57 degrees centigrade. We also had to eat barest minimum per day. It is like running a marathon per day.

Did you run with sufficient water?
Mika: At every 10km point, there was a water point?

Do you need a Compass? How do you find the route?
Johnson: Even in the dark, we could see. We find the route safe to travel.

Is there a chance of getting oneself lost?
Johnson : At every 50m or 100m, there is a flag planted to the floor, The possibility of getting lost is 0%, except when you focus. There are cases of people getting disoriented when dehydration and exhaustion take place. In the dark, we use head light.

Was the route challenging?
Mika:  The organisers set the course. We were daily going nearly 1 marathon per day for 4days. On the fifth day, we had to travel 170km . On the sixth day, we need to travel about 10km to finish the race, infront of the pyramid. The reward for us was cold beer and pizza was waiting. My achilles started to hurt. I was very hungry. During the run, I slowed down the team alot because of the pain at the achilles. I was very hungry also.
My team-mates were very patient with me. 

How was the organisation and organisers of the event?
Mika: It was organised very well. The organisers were good. They did a fantastic job.

Johnson : The volunteers has had first hand experience having done the race before. They voluntarily assist the raced with pure dedication. The check points are there to monitor whether the competitors have reached the point safely and they are not lost. 

What position did the team get and was there any award for this race?
Mika: We were given a trophy. Overall we were second.

How much was the registration fee for this race?
Johnson: The fee was US$3200. The race registration fee fluctuates with the market conditions.

How did you feel when you have finished the race?
Mika: A sense of achievement.

Johnson: The memorable day was the 2nd last day. We felt that the race was already over. For the last day, we just had to do a last 10km run.

How was the facilities during the race?
Mika: There were no luxuries to enjoy.

Johnson: We did not have shower for the 6 days. We had to go to hotel. There were no facilities. There were no water to brush our teeth. I was not able to shave and I was growing a beard.

What is/are your future goal/s?
Mika: In future I would like to go for the Nepal 250km Challenge

Johnson: After the Sahara, I have done the Standard Chartered Marathon in Singapore in 2009. I am now preparing for the Antartica race in November 2010. However, I would like to take part in the 100km Northface Run and the Safra Army Half-Marathon before the Antartica race.

We wishes Christian, Mika and Johnson all the best for their future challenges.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marathon Runners That I Coached - (Part 1) - Bala - 2hr 33min.

Balasubramaniam - The Long Forgotton Runner

Around 1989, when I saw Balasubramaniam, he looked like a strong young runner, who was about 3 years younger than me. He had broad shoulders and was fair in complexion. I met him when he was training with the then national coach Sivalingam. He was a mediocre runner in the group of runners which consisted of top youth athletes like M. Maran (4.8km – 14m 13sec, 1500m – 3min 53sec, 3000m steeplechase– 9min 11sec). M, Maran was a bronze medalist for the SEA games and Asian Youth Athletics Championships. Another runner who was training at the same time and a training partner to M. Maran was Saravanan, who was able to do 3min 53sec for the 1500m and has a championships record for the under 20 National School Track and Field with a time of 3min 59sec for the 1500m.

Over time, Bala, being slow in the group of marathon runners. Hence, he was willing to stop being a track runner and become a marathon runner. I supported him because of his strength to run with easily getting tired. Later on, he was getting faster over time. He also came with a back pain injury when he joined me. He told me that the injury came because of doing intensive workouts after workouts every other day. He also has been asking around for someone to get him out of the back and spine problem. In fact, he was not able to run well because of this severe pain.

Seeing this, I recommended to him to lower down his mileage for the time being and increase the total mileage of the week gradually only when the injury disappears. He was open to this idea of doing some of the yoga stretching exercises that I suggested to him to strengthen his lower back muscles. Anyway, he had no choice in this matter for he had waited for the injury to go and it was to no avail. He had to do the stretching exercises and he did it. Earlier on, in all training sessions, he was complaining about the injury all the time. However, after some time, his complaining suddenly decreased and finally stopped.

For several days, we two used to run our daily long runs together. He was getting much faster over time. He also had this boundless energy to run non-stop.He was in a way grateful to me because of the simple stretches that I thought him to do. He told me that he felt good because of these stretches. He became an ardent person who liked doing the yoga stretches before and after the runs.

Seeing his improvement in running, I told Bala that he had the potential to come in top 3 in Singapore Marathon. My prediction was that he might even come in first. I told him this truth. To this, he always humbled himself down and told me that he wants to run for fitness only. During that time, he was very enthusiastic to train with me. He was also particular on punctuality. This affected me because I was always going by the feeling of my body and not to the program. I make changes to my program if I do not do well.

I had the idea of better later late than never attitude. This is because, sometimes, a day before the run with him, I feel very tired and need more rest. I used to listen to my body. By resting, I was able to run better, maybe at the later part of the day. I used to tell Bala not to wait beyond 5-10mins for me. As soon as I do not turn up, I usually will ask him to go first. I used to get scolding from him because of me coming late. That went on for sometime.

In the 1990 Singapore Marathon, Bala ran took part in the race. At the start of the race, he was running with me. We looked strong. We ran all the way until the 25km mark where he felt stronger starting surging. I was taking a conservative approach to the race, even though, I felt strong. Somewhere, at the last 3km, I ran fast and caught up with a lot of people. As soon I entered the stadium, I realized that Bala was first and I was second. He did 2hr 35min and I did 2hrs 36min. Bala told many that I coached him to do well. However, I felt I said that I only gave my two cents worth on training program. He even invited the Media Corp to take a 20min documentary of both of us. We worked as a team. Bala was appreciative towards me for what I had done. He even started telling many people about this. However, I told myself not to get elated with this and also kept my ego at bay. I told myself to ever to remain humble all the time.

After some time, the two of us used to train together for some months. Bala decided to get a program from overseas, from countries like Japan and Korea. He even asked me to follow suit in the pursuit of excellence. I wanted to see what program he was having. I realized that a female runner from Sivalingam’s group gave the e-mail address of the overseas runners to Bala to contact for program. Evaluating the program, I told Bala not to train like the program. To this, “ You don’t know Rameshon, this is the way to do well, then we can improve”. The reason I said that was because he was aiming to do the 3 rounds of the northern route at Macritchie, everyday. I told him that this is absurd and tried to save him from this predicament. That went in vain as he was very aggressive in carrying out his plan. I could not stop him as success had conquered him and he was not willing to listen to me. I left him alone.

While I was training, at times, he came to me to ask me to join him. I firmly said a no to him. All day long, Bala kept running 3 rounds of northern route. One round of it is 10km. He was also eating amino acid bread and a kind of amino acid powder. I told him that some of the amino acids are essential and are able to be manufactured by the body and some essential one are not. However, it can be taken from outside in the form of food, in diet like soya bean and milk, as suggested by Dr Teh Kong Chuan. He did not believe me this. He believed that amino acid is the answer and key to run faster. I believed that Bala should have got supplement drinks which are good for recovery, instead. He turn a deaf ear to me. I told myself that I have done my best to help him.

In February, 1991, he was the first choice runner to represent Singapore and because of his 2hr 35min performance in the Singapore Marathon he was selected to represent Singapore in the California Marathon. He did 2hr 33min there while I represented Singapore in the Hong Kong Marathon and came in 5th with a time of 2hrs 31min. I broke the record set by Tan Choon Ghee in China 2hr 34min. I was immediately selected for the SEA Games Marathon then. Bala was not selected. He was disappointed with this. The Singapore Amateur Athletics Association told him that only one person can go for the SEA Games. I was hoping that the two of us could go.

Over time, he avoided a lot of races and after a period of time, he came in 9th position in the SAA Cross- Country Race. He kept running 30km per day relentlessly. He kept asking me to join him. I avoided him because of his repeated calls to do this run. Bala, was still doing 30km per day for several months with a pace which was faster than sub 5min per km.

I really do not know what happened to him later on. He used to complain to me that SAAA is not helping him much. I was not listening to this as I believed in hard work. If we work hard definitely fate will give us the opportunity to run overseas. After so long, I still did not meet Bala anymore. Maybe, I feel that the 30km that he did running fast had made him burnt out. Only, God knows what happened. When people asked about him, I used to tell them, “ I don’t know”.

The End


Sunday, June 20, 2010

KENYA TRIP - Training with the Elite (PART 2)

Meeting with Martin Keino (13min 10sec personal best for 5000m)

Paul Tergat - Pride of Kenya (5 times World Cross-Country Champion)

Martin Keino is the son of Kip Keino. I met Martin in Kenya during my trip there. Kip Keino is the hero of Kenyan long distance history. When I was there in the year 2001, I met Martin Keino. At that time, the personal best of Martin was 13min 10sec. On some days, at Kip Keino camp, I was asked to join in in some of the training sessions planned by Martin. I gladly joined in even though I was slightly overweight and untrained at that time.

On the first day of the training, I was asked to run about 16km. As I had been coaching in the former The Chinese High School, I have not been running much. I found the 16km quite hard to run because of not training much. Martin arranged the session for me.

During my stay in Kenya for about 10 days, I realised that the terrain was all made of earth. Most of the Kenyans mode of transport was walking and cycling. The dirt path created for humans were not cleared of traffic. During my few days there,  I went for a 20km in the dirt path route in the cool morning hours. I found that there was no sign of fatigue because of the low humidity and cool weather. In actual fact, I wanted to run further but there was not much time for me to run. Hence, on that day, I had to come back.

There was another day where Martin gave me hill workout of 12 x 200m. The training was very tough because Martin chose a steep hill to do that form of training. I joined the training and was able to do about 10 reps of the hill. The rest of the triathletes who joined us gave up the workout after some reps.The Kenyans top athletes were too fast for them.

During my stay there, I also met the former World Record holder for Junior 5km Ismail Kirui, who was the one to inspire me to do a 2hr 29min for the London Marathon. I used to watch Ismail run in the video everyday during my two month self-paid training stint in England with my coach Alan Guilder. Ismail was able to fend off Haile Gebresilassie in the race and obtain for Kenya a gold medal in the World Championships 1993. The run that Ismail ran was phenomenal. He was able to lead the Men Open 5000m World Championships from the start till the end. The first lap that he did was around 1m 00sec.He was also able to maintain the pace by doing 1min 02sec most of the way.What impressed me most was the last round kick where he showed himself to be still strong even at the end. After the finish of the race, straightaway, he was carrying the Kenyan flag to show his patriotism. What a man?

While talking to Ismail, I realised that he was having achilles tendon injury, which made him to give up competitive running once and for all. His injury is similar to Liu Xiang's injury. It was a serious injury. He also became slightly overweight because of this. However, his remarkable run and the indelible imprint that he has created in my mind will always be in my mind. When ever, I think of Ismail, only courage comes to me.

Incredible Feat By Ismail Kirui - Fending off Haile (Etiopia) for the 5000m World Championships 1993, thereby breaking the World Championships Record and World Junior Record to13min 02sec. 

I also met Billy Konchellah the two time World Championships gold medalist for 800m. He told me the essense of running and coaching. He was also a patient person who elaborated the coaching science of running to me. I was very impressed with this person. He was coaching the male and female athletes of Kenya. I also saw some runners from Botswana and western group joining the Kenyan running team. They were all welcomed to learn from the Kenyans. Billy was willing to teach me without any reservation. I had great experience learning from him on conditioning during off-season.

After meeting the great athletes of Kenya, later on I interviewed Martin Keino, who gave me some tips on how the youngsters and Kenyan top athletes train in Kenya.

The Great Haile of Ethiopia with a Kenyan Elite Athlete

Interview With Martin Keino

How many camps are there in Kenya?
There is Kip Keino camp, Daniel Komen (former world record holder) and other camps in Kenya. All the camps are found in Eldoret. (Eldoret, in Kenya, has produced 95% of Olympic gold medals of the total medals won by Kenyans).

Empowerment of the Professional Runners - Both Kenyan and Foreign Athletes

Tell me more about the full time runners in Kenya?
They are paid about $100 per month to train in this camp. Food and accommodation is fully provided to those who are talented and are interested to do well in running. They are to look after themselves when it comes to washing shoes, clothes, etc. Some of the potential runners are sponsored by the camp to go for overseas races. Upon the athletes success, they are to pay back to the camp the money loan out upon their return overseas. We have great success in doing this. Overall these athletes are well taken care of.

Dirt Ground - Abundant Dirt Ground Can Go As Far As 30km

How do you train the children and youth?
We introduce the element of fun to them. We do not want the youngsters to burnout early and give up running. In the past, this happened many times and we have lost many athletes. For the youth, we have a different camp, a special one. In the camp, we allow them to do workouts but the coaches will only give them quality feedback and not quantity feedback. Sometimes we may not give any feedback in order to hold back the athlete from pushing too hard when they are young. We strongly believe that the youth should not be very competitive. They should enjoy training and not bother about their timing.

In Kenya - Children Are Not Miniature Adults, They Are Taught Not To Be Competitive At An Early Age.

Have you encountered athletes who only believe in workouts and not mileage training?
These athletes will train and come up very fast. They will start beating alot of people. About two years later these type of youth vanish because of burnout. Here, the coach will scold the youth not to be competitive at an early age. However, kids are kids, they want challenge and get themselves burnout. They always want to win and push too hard. I think a workout of once per week or two is enough to do well in long distance training.

How about the element of hill workout?
We do alot of these type of training during off season. When we go to track season, we drop off hills. However, sometimes, we may continue even during the competitive season at least once a week hill workout.

Why did you bring us to a place an hour away from Kip Keino Training Camp to do the hill workout?
We are staying at a level which is 5000ft above sea level at the Kip Keino Training Camp. This camp is good for us to stay. We do run much. If we do, we just go for long run and not for a workout. However, in order to do a workout, we find that a height which is 3000ft, which is the good for doing workouts. So, that was why I brought you and the rest to this place. At 3000ft above sea level, an athlete is still at altitude but at this altitude one can run faster than at 5000ft above sea level. One will be able to concentrate on speed. One will feel like having nausea when doing a workout at 5000ft. The air is less dense and it affects breathing to a certain extent. For a good training, we stay at 5000ft   in order to increase 2,3 dpg in our blood. This will increase our blood. However, for training purpose, we go down to 3000ft to train.

The Great Kenyan Flag - The Flag Looks Better With Every Win From Races