This time last year, I was studying at University and working part time in a small shop. Fast forward one year and I am now a full time athlete – training out in the heights of Kenya and preparing for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It’s amazing the difference a year can make.
This was my second visit to the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya. It is situated at 8,000 ft, high in the Rift Valley and is home to hundreds of the worlds top athletes. Training here is a huge eye opener. There is not a bit of flat land in sight and the thousands of trails which surround the town are of tough, uneven and muddy terrain. Running in Iten doesn’t come easily. It really is an awe-inspiring place to visit and the locals are the friendliest people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Life is simple…..Eat, sleep, train then repeat. That’s the difference to back home, in Kenya there are no distractions. It is the bare minimum. Constant power cuts, cold showers and limited internet. Running is the only priority.
Coming back to the cold Scottish weather is always a bit of a shock. It takes some time to re-adjust. My training times also have to change slightly due to the fact it gets dark so early. I always make sure I am well wrapped up in order to prevent my immune system getting low and subsequently becoming ill. Illness is almost inevitable at this time of year but for me as an athlete, I do my best to avoid it as much as I can! My advice for running at this time of year is to wrap up warm and stick to well-lit areas. It can be hard to see in the dark so avoid the roads. Training in winter is tough but you just need to keep on going and remember what you are doing it for!
I will be returning to Kenya again for another training spell at the beginning of January for 4-6 weeks, so fingers crossed I’ll miss the worst of the Scottish weather! I hope these two trips to altitude will truly give me the training boost I need for the summer racing season. In my event, the 3000m steeplechase, the World Rankings are amass with Kenyan athletes and so I feel this is essential for my development to take the next step forward. To be the best, you have to train like the best!
Take care, Eilish x