Informations Systems Consultant

Kenya’s Running Spirit

Many times I have a good laugh whenever another “new” Kenyan athlete comes to the limelight.  They seems to have been tuaght by the same teacher. It is almost the same script different cast. I love the passion that is exhibited, the comic relief in their “direct” translation of mother-tongue to English. More importantly their motivation and aspirations are just epic. That’s what role models can do for a society. All the athletes admire and want to make a mark in their lifetime just life the fore-bearers. they aspire to run in all the major race and WIN! Break world records and better their time in every race. They want to build nice home like their role models and support worthy causes.

So you can imagine their motivation as they run. A conversation in their mind could be something like this:

“I am winning this race, if Tergat did it so can I. The prize money will be enough to build my mother a better house, buy me a nice car and have enough to afford better training for the olympics. Poverty ishindwe! Yes I can run faster than these guys oooo yes there was a time no one knew Kemboi or Rudisha. I am winning…hakuna kitu ingine!”

As Kenyans everyone expect good sportsmanship from us. They believe we run marathons by default. It is quite another thing to actually run a full marathon. many of us can walk between 5-20km. Running the full 42Km marathon aiiaiaiaiiii that requires experience, lots of practice and tact. Professional marathon trainers recommend two years consistent practice to run a full marathon. I challenged myself a year ago to run two half marathons this year.

I was afraid to share the plan with anyone for then I would have to be accountable to them. Building a consistent training regime was the hardest step. Our bodies have mood swings so it requires being harsh to self. Wake up when the body thinks otherwise, push yourself when the body is screaming for rest and so on.

The best five tips I learnt in preparation for running the two marathons is that:

1. Build a running style consistent with your body size – get the right (comfortable& light)shoes and build a consistent technique. If you can find a running partner or more the better!

2. Start with small personal runs and celebrate those wins – then work to better your time and improve your pace

3. focus on the simple 6 step sequence and forget about everyone else run as if you are alone. Count one-two-one-two-one-two

4. When you are running out of breath run for five minutes then walk for two minutes

5. Build a resilience to run with little water in-take ( sort of wash your mouth and spit out-use the rest to pour over your head for cooling)

Lastly take time to warm up and warm down. Learn good sets stretches and repeat until you muster them. Most importantly loosen up – do not tighten your muscles as you run for that drains you the more. Have fun and hey its only a run!

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