A (training) week in Iten "Home of Champions

120 - 140 kilometres running, 1,200 - 1,700 vertical meters, 7x core and mobility and 3x massage. This workload is currently my normal training week in Iten, Kenya. But what makes the training here so strenuous, how did the adaptation to the altitude as well as the hilly terrain go and is there already a noticeable progress? I would like to share that and an exact week of training with you in this article.

little fun in training?

I would be lying if I said the first two weeks of training in Kenya were fun. The altitude on the one hand, but especially the climbs challenged me a lot. Together with my coach we took the training slowly and mainly focused on a very low heart rate.
The nice thing is, after about 30 days it was suddenly noticeably easier for me, the joy came back and I could finally run a 4:00 average on the flat again, without the heart rate going up too much and I had to breathe too hard.

In the meantime, I train most of the week twice a day and get an average of 120 - 140 kilometres per week. Due to the altitude and the profiled terrain already quite decent, yet we always try to stay on the "relaxed" side and not overdo it too much.
The workouts have now returned to the level of Germany at sea level and it feels good to be back in the range of 2.50 - 3.30 pace. The easy runs, on the other hand, I usually keep very easy. Often in the range of 4.20 - 4.50 pace, but in the second session with many Kenyans also 5.20 pace or even slower. It's crazy that pace doesn't matter anymore for Kenyan runners in the afternoon and you just collect some more miles and loosen up your legs.

Umgeben von den Besten

Being surrounded by top runners and the best in the world is insanely motivating and also inspiring. Every now and then I start with Julien Wanders' group, but then continue at my own pace after a few kilometres or take a different route with my group. With some you meet again in the afternoon anyway for a Chai (= Kenyan tea) or for lunch. Also, conversations with the German elite are very interesting and a change.
But the best thing about the many groups is the attitude and mentality. Every Kenyan and European top runner in Iten motivates and supports each other. Something where you unfortunately do not always find in Germany and like younger athletes try to camouflage their envy in mockery or sarcasm. The important thing at this point is, as always, to go your own way and choose your environment according to the runners and people who support you.

Recovery between the session

With the current distances, recovery is of course very important for me. On many days, 24 - 26km are not uncommon. Besides eight hours of sleep per night and an often very extensive nap after the training session in the morning, massage is also on the schedule up to three times a week. Often very painful, as Kenyans are a fan of deep Massage But this is also part of the training. Besides training, I spend my days talking to other local athletes and doing work on the laptop. Living in Kenya not only gives me the opportunity to spend much more time and focus on training, but also to work together with companies and agencies on projects and tasks about running topics on a daily basis. So I can follow my passion every day and live my dream. What more could you ask for?! The training plan below is an excerpt from a normal training week here in Iten at 2,400m altitude. As described above, we often vary a lot during the relaxed runs in the afternoon. Here we run very much by feel, the heart rate we keep here nevertheless most of the time low. During the workout on Friday, we only wanted to try out speed for a short time, but then had to change the workout and go to Kipsoen Road. Running a faster pace here is nearly impossible due to bigger stones and an uneven ground. Which is why we decided to run only 4x 1k in 3.25 pace and a faster 400 with a short break.

Extract of a normal training week in Iten, Kenya

DayMorning*EveningTotal**
Monday14km in 4.43 pace (1.06h) + 10min running drills+ 4x 150m strides6km in 5.44 pace + 4x 60m uphill strides24.5km
Tuesday20km in 4.12 pace (1.24h) progressive from 4.41 to 3.50 pace20km
Wednesday10km in 4.50 pace progressive from 5.23 to 4.29 pace + 4x 0m uphill strides6km in 4.26 pace + 6x 100m strides19km
Thursday16km in 4.42 pace + Gym16km
Friday3km WarmUp 4x 1km in 3.25´ + 400m in 71.5“ 2km CoolDown (relaxed workout on the Kipsoen Track. Stones and uneven ground)7,7km in 5.19 (40min)18km
Satuday16km in 4.51 pace8km in 5.17 pace26.5km
Sunday10km in 5.11 pace10km
Total  135 kilometres
1.350 elevation gain

* * In the morning always 20min stabilization exercises for core and mobility before the 1st training session
** ** Due to 2 - 3km run-in to the starting point with the group or 1 - 2km run-out after sprints, the weekly volume is higher than the individual session shows.

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