Do Kenyan athletes need physiotherapists?

Jeroen Deen in orange T-shirt seated next to Brother Colm O'Connell at Kerio View, Iten Kenya
Below is an interview I once did with one of the best physiotherapists I know. Jeroen Deen has been living in Iten and working with Kenyan athletes since 2006. At times, he would momentarily move to Ethiopia to help athletes there as well. Since 2017, much of his work has been in Ethiopia.

An Exciting Kenyan road running adventure at the 2018 Nairobi Marathon

My friend, Isaac Too (in the middle) at the lead of the men's half marathon, Photo by Weldon Kennedy
In the morning before a marathon, there are times when everything seems to be happening so fast and you feel that you are already too late to do everything; pass the security lines, change, leave your bag at the left baggage section, warm up, queue the line to the toilets, etc.

Kenya’s 3000m Steeplechase dominance and training methods

Jairus Birech leading the men's 3000m steeplechase race during the Kenyan national trials

If there is one event that Kenyan runners have and continues to dominate, it is the 3000m steeplechase. It used to be the men in the past, but Kenyan female runners are beginning to take after their male counterparts as well. There is the emergence of Hyvin Kiyeng, Beatrice Chepkoech who now holds the world record of 8:44:32, Celiphine Chespol and Norah Jeruto who have continued to dominate the Diamond League races in recent years.

Kenyan athlete’s review of Enertor comfort insoles and compression socks

I was impressed with the speed at which the Enertor insoles and compression socks reached me here in Kenya, all the way from the UK. It only took about three days after ordering them before I got a surprise call to go and pick up my package, much earlier than I was expecting it. Being worn and endorsed by the world’s fastest runner, Usain Bolt and reaching me in such a record time

Kenyan athletes' staple food and lifestyles

Athletes running the 2018 Nairobi Marathon, photo by Weldon Kennedy 
When it comes to the topic on obesity, no one mentions genetics. But when a Kenyan athlete wins a major marathon race, people are quick to credit it to their genes and tend to stress this much more than they should actually be doing. They should rather be focusing on the way of life, the training programs, and the food these Determined Runners eat. It seems that “genetics” has been used in a way to imply that the Kenyan athletes naturally have some physical advantages over the rest of the athletes in other parts of the world when it comes to the middle and long distance running.

I am not going to dispute that, but the main aim of this article wasn’t to discuss the body organs of the Kenyan runners that are perceived by many to be different. It is to break down the most staple food among the Kenyan athletes, their environment, lifestyle and feeding habits, to see if they have anything to do with their success in running.

Kenyan road races that were not in the interest of athletes have quickly disappeared!

Athletes training in Eldoret
In the recent past, when a road race was announced around the big training destinations in Kenya, it had always been great news to the athletes because they saw it as a rare opportunity for them to test their strength against other athletes training in various other camps, and an opportunity to perfect race strategies and get more experiences on how best to run in future competitions. Athletes were definitely not going to be left out of any race despite short notices they usually got, meager prize money being offered and even the lack of water and aid stations on the route. They would immediately adjust their training program in readiness for these races and turn up in large numbers at the starting point on race day.

It had reached a point where volunteers would even get paid four times the amount that the poor athletes would get in prize money!

A typical Kenyan training for running the 5000m on track

The road to the 2019 IAAF world championships in Doha should be starting right now for athletes interested in winning the medals there. With time, I will try to post all the typical Kenyan training for all the distances but for now let’s concentrate on the 5,000m event.
This event is the closest to the middle distance in the category of long distance events and therefore requires more speed workouts than the other long distance events. Many athletes who do well in this event often do well also in the 1500m. Bernard Lagat of the USA, and Augustine Choge of Kenya and Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco are examples of athletes who have been doing well in the 1500/5000m distances. But, there are others who do well in the event and also in the 10000m, like Mo Farah of Great Britain, and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.

Advantages of having a spouse for a training and running mate

Husband and wife at a local road running event in Eldoret, Kenya 
There are many couples who have met through running and have had their support for each other result in perhaps more achievements than any one of them would have achieved individually. The benefits of having a good training group has never been disputed, but perhaps the benefit of having a spouse for a training partner could even be much more than that of being in such groups.
1. You get the opportunity to live double lives
Once you are out of the door and out training you get the opportunity to become running mates where the role of a husband or a wife is not easily defined. Your minds shift away from the daily chores and responsibilities in the house and dwells on the plans for your runs; you will have to agree on the route, the pace and the duration to go out for a run.

You might have had arguments at home regarding other matters, but when the times come for training, you get a well-deserved break into a different world for a while.

Amazing experience and great fun at the 2018 Isaiah Kiplagat Memorial Ndalat Gaa Kids Cross Country event

Back to start line for the runners after a false start in the junior men's race, Ndalat Gaa.
The Isaiah Kiplagat Memorial Ndalat Gaa cross country race continues to receive great support from its main sponsors, the county government of Nandi, local institutions and the local community at large. This year’s race was even so much better organised and bigger.

This event is turning much more into a fun weekend more than a competition. It is a great opportunity for meeting up with former training mates, mingling with star athletes, watching the races and getting entertained by traditional singers and dancer, among other enjoyable activities you can get involved in.

Do runners benefit from journalists or journalists from runners?

Justin Lagat, Percy and Erin McDougall training at Proctor Park, photo by Brighton Events
It happens at times that, some few athletes at times take journalists in circles as they seek to have interviews with them. There are at times when the journalists as well become too much for the athletes following them everywhere instead of giving them some time to relax and have some ample time with their families.
I am both a journalist and a runner and my experience, over time, in the two fields has thought me a lot. Before 2010, for example, before social media became more aggressive it was so frustrating to try and learn about and get some information on runners, especially the East African runners often referred to only as “a pack of Kenyans and Ethiopians at the front” even after winning major marathons out there. You would search about the results of the major race and find a lot written about a runner who finished 5th, 7th, 15th, 19th, etc, and nothing about the podium winners.

Kenyan runners need Kenyan companies to sponsor individual runners

Vivian Cheruiyot leading the women 10,000m race at the Olympic trials in Kipchoge Stadium, Eldoret

Many local companies in Kenya usually come in to sponsor the highly increasing number of road races around and, as athletes, we are ever so grateful for such companies.
However, unlike in other team sports like volleyball, soccer and rugby where players even get salaries while in their training camps, I am yet to see a local company in Kenya that support athletes in their training, nutrition, coaching, access to gym facilities, massage, accommodation, travel to races and other daily living expenses.

Mohamed Redal El Aaraby and Medina Deme Armino emerge victorious at the 2018 BLOM Beirut Marathon

Mohamed Reda El Aaraby of Morocco winning the 2018 Beirut Marathon, photo by Beirut Marathon

In what many would have thought to be a mistake, Mohamed Redal pushed the pace early at the Beirut Marathon managing to get an early break in the men's race that eventually resulted in an epic victory for him. He was able to beat his next competitor by a margin of over a minute.
Medina Deme Armino of Ethiopia winning the women's marathon race. Photo by Beirut Marathon
The women's race was a close competition in which Medina Deme emerged victorious. 
Below is a press release from the Beirut Marathon:
Beirut, November 11, 2018 - Mohamed Reda El Aaraby of Morocco played a starring role at 16th edition of the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon on Sunday morning (11), clocking a course record of 2:10:41 to upset the favourites in the IAAF Gold Label road race.

Former Kenyan politician, Wesley Korir finds himself in Beirut, Lebanon

Wesley Korir in Beirut, photo by Beirut Marathon
Wesley Korir is already in Beirut for his major race on Sunday. This will be a race he has prepared well for without having to juggle between politics and training. Below is a press release from the organizers of the BLOM Beirut Marathon
Beirut, November 9, 2018 - For one of Kenya’s best-known politicians, it’s time to get back on track.
In recent years Wesley Korir has been many things to many people–a member of Kenyan Parliament, Boston Marathon champion, a philanthropist with various charity projects–but the 35-year-old is first and foremost a runner, and now he’s ready to return to his first love.
“Which is more exciting, politics or running marathons? That’s easy: marathons,” he says. “In politics sometimes the result is out of your control, no matter how hard you work, but in running you have to do everything for yourself, do what you love and finish how you want to finish.”
After a nightmare experience at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Korir found his beloved sport taking a back seat in life as his political career in Kenya soaked up so much of his time.

How running in humid conditions affect your marathon time

Temperature, humidity and air pressure illustration by Mr. Mulroy’s Earth Science
Running is simply the act of placing one foot in front of the other rapidly as you move from one point to another. But, one needs to learn much more than that if they are to run a marathon well.  Humidity and atmospheric pressure are part of the topics one needs to learn as a runner. It is not enough to just check the temperature or the time of the day that the race will be run. Humidity plays a great role in how your body will feel on race day. A humidity of over 45% will have some effect on your running, a 75% will greatly affect your running while a 100% humidity will make it extremely difficult for you to run.
Humidity makes running more difficult on warm days in that high moisture content in the air will make it feel hotter . It is important to recognize that feeling sluggish on a day with high humidity doesn't indicate a lack of fitness or a lapse in mental toughness. Body temperature naturally rises when one runs and sweat glands produce sweat to carry excess heat to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates and produce a cooling effect on the body. But with higher humidity in the air, sweat is prevented from evaporating.

When the body continues to heat up and get dehydrated, it goes into survival mode of trying to maintain blood flow only to your essential organs and to your skin. If you continue pushing hard despite the early warnings, your brain temperature may even rise as a result and make matters worse as your ability to assess your own body temperature will be compromised. You may start to lose control over your body movements and your mental abilities may end up disoriented.

Kass marathon that begins in Kapsabet and ends in Eldoret is unique and tough.

Winners of a past Kass marathon event
The fact that Kass Marathon starts from one town and ends in another one may not be that unique, but what is really unique is that crowds line up the entire route from Kapsabet town to Eldoret town to cheer the athletes, just like it happens in cross country meetings. This only happens when a race is run across villages that produce past, present and future world record holders and champions.
Kass marathon marathon is more about discovering new talents than anything else. It continues to provide opportunities for new athletes to get recognized. Many of them get to meet their managers just at the finish line who would then enter them in international competitions abroad and build their careers.
Time is not important in this marathon due to it being run on a hard course. The winning time for men is usually around 2:17 to 2:20. These times would perhaps translate to 2:03:02 if it is considered that Geoffrey Mutai won this race before going to run the world’s fastest marathon time at the Boston Marathon in 2011. But, no one should worry about the times because finishing Kass marathon is a huge achievement in itself, no matter in what time you do it. Some runners run just to complete this course believing that if they can just finish it, then they can easily conquer any other marathon out there.

Why I hold the 5km world record of 12:37:00 on Strava

My world record run on Strava
Yesterday, I got an email notification that a new friend was now following me on Strava. On logging in to my Strava page, I noticed that it was a close friend of mine from Ontario, Canada. So, I was curious to compare his personal best times with mine.
My friend had 20 minutes for his 5km time. I checked mine and I could not believe what I saw. I had 12:37.00! Kenenisa Bekele’s official world record is 12:37:35. Does this mean I am the fastest runner over the 5k distance? I could hardly believe it. I was already beginning to dance as I clicked on the time to find more details on the exact route on which I registered the time.

Everything that any runner may need, all in one store!

I just came across this online store that is a one stop shop... or can we say a one site stop for online shoppers?... for any runner of any ability, age and stature. It has anything that any runner would need from running shoes, clothing, sport electronics, gps watches, nutrition and hydration stuff, and any other accessory you may ever think of as a runner. Just check out their website by clicking on the ad below and let me know what you find missing.
At Runners Need, they have always believed that it’s never too late for anyone to start running given that their founder, Chris Bould didn’t set out on his first run until the age of 26 when he joined the Highgate Harriers in 1979.Inspired by his experience in the USA, where he raced in the New York City Marathon and visited their specialist running retailers, Chris and his wife Judy founded the first Runners Need in Camden in 1982.
Adhering to the passions and principles of their founders, Runners Need help runners achieve their personal fitness goals with the latest products from world-leading brands, friendly, expert advice and a personal service that everyone can trust.
Runners Need genuinely love running and seeks to share that enthusiasm and knowledge with their customers, which is why you can visit them in-store and online for expert guidance on anything from training, racing and nutrition to footwear, clothing and electronics.
They believe that a great running experience begins with the right shoe, so their staff is trained to offer free video gait analysis and professional fitting services in every store.

Looking Back at the Boston Marathon Bombings

Tribute to Boston Bomb blast victims
Sometimes, disappointments may serve to bring out the best in a situation and I think that the Boston Marathon incident that happened in 2013 did help demonstrate to the whole world that runners are brave, resilient, caring and united.
When the bomb blasts happened around the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, many feared that the popularity of the event and the attendance in other major city marathons that were still to happen later in the year would be affected negatively. But, looking back eight years later, the Boston bombings might have even brought in more recognition, success and popularity to the sport of running.
Those who feared that the worst was going to happen to marathon running after the unfortunate incident in Boston might have just forgotten one thing; the nature of the people who run these marathons. It is not everybody who has the courage and the determination to run 42km and endure all the training and time that it takes to do that. Marathon runners are lion-hearted; in fact, other people who are too weak to walk a kilometer or two, leave alone run, at times view marathon runners as maniacs. What they do not understand is that marathon runners are resilient people who would not be easily deterred from achieving their goals – especially not by some cowardly acts like the Boston bombings.
The incident in Boston thought the world more about running and runners.  Running in general is one of the careers in the world that has been able to transform the lives of so many hard working individuals who would have ended up miserable, but instead became heroes and role models in society through their talents in running. In fact, it may be the only path to success that doesn’t need material wealth for one to succeed. Many runners who lacked money to further their studies, startup businesses, or buy facilities to participate in others sporting activities, have been able to find refuge in running; because the only investment needed is one’s pure hard work and determination as a capital to begin it. Many who could not even get money to buy running shoes have been able to start running barefooted and ended up succeeding in their lives.

It also revealed the big hearts that runners have. Just six days after the Boston marathon, an impressive number of 34,631 runners turned up again to run the London marathon. And, as though to show that not only are marathon runners like a family to each other, but the city marathon organizers too, the London marathon organizers, decided to donate $3.00 from every runner who crossed the finish line to the Boston bomb blast victims.

Six observations made at the New York City Marathon

Geoffrey Kamworor winning the 2017 New York City Marathon
1.       It pays to be confident before a race
Confidence was evident in both Mary Keitany and Ghebrselassie in the 2016 edition of the TCS New York City Marathon, even in the early stages of the race. Keitany ran her own race without caring who was following her, nor worrying about going alone and being run down later by a chasing pack. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing and how she wanted to run her race.

Ghebrselassie on the other hand, while in the company of Rotich and Desisa, appeared calm and confident. He later told the media that what he had done in training was what gave him the confidence.
2.       Runners help one another on the course despite competing against each other at the same time!
Nothing explains why Ghirmay Ghebrselassie shook hands with Lucas Rotich at the finish line of the New York City Marathon, other than a friendship and understanding that developed between them over the course as they helped each other in pushing the pace at the front while Lelisa Desisa seemingly stayed back patiently and left the two to do the pacing.
“We were helping each other before he dropped back. Then after I looked back once and he was a little bit far from me, and I was really a little bit angry with him because we were helping each other. I was thinking maybe others from behind can catch him. So I was a little bit competing with it. So I was okay.” Ghebrselassie said after the race.
This is what always happens almost at the finish line of every race where runners hug and congratulate each other after competing. It reminded me of Hyvin Kiyeng during the semi-finals of the women 3000m steeplechase race at the Rio Olympics when she had gone to comfort her ‘rival’ at the finish line when the latter had fallen down and failed to advance to the finals with her.
3.        Establishing one’s own consistent pace in a marathon pays off at the end
Sally Kipyego and Abdi Abdirahman are the perfect examples of this. The two dropped behind from the leading packs earlier in their race, but kept their own consistent paces that resulted in their greatest achievements so far in their careers in marathon running. Kipyego finished second, her first ever podium finish in marathon while Abdirahman finished third, becoming one of the few Americans to finish in a podium position at a world major city marathon.
“I just decided to run behind today and run within myself and make sure I didn’t get carried away with the leaders. Stayed within my pace, and that paid off today,” said Kipyego after the race.

Information on my marathon and long distance running online coaching programs

Kenyan Athlete with fans in Canada The happenings from 2016 to 2018 have inspired me tremendously to take up the job of helping others...