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Run and train the Kenyan way

Written by Fiona

April 21 2016

Physiologist, writer and speaker Colin Thomas – you may have heard him speaking at the Scottish Cycling, Running and Outdoor Pursuits Show in March – reveals 10 tips for running as brilliantly as the top Kenyan runners.

1 Train without a heart rate monitor. As legendary marathon coach Renato Canova put it: “A heart rate monitor puts a limit on a runner. Kenyans like to run free, without limits.”

2 Eat lots of ugali. Ugali is a maize-based food, high in carbohydrate, which looks a bit like mashed potato. It is actually fairly tasteless, but the Kenyans believe it gives them power for the following days run.


3 Stretch after the run. All over Iten, in Kenya, you see runners standing on street corners after their run completing their stretching routine.

4 Make easy runs really easy. Ten minute miles are not uncommon for Kenyan runners on an easy run.

5 Make hard runs really hard.

6 Take a complete rest day every week. Use this day to rehydrate with lots of water.

7 Vary the running surface. Kenyans run on trails, in the forest, on the running track and occasionally on the road.

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8 Double session in the morning anyone? Sometimes a 6.30am run can be followed by a 10am run. It gets a double session out of the way and trains the body to recover quickly.

9 Early to bed, early to rise. Lights out at around 10pm allows for an early morning run at sunrise.

10 Eat your five-a-day. Fresh green vegetables similar to spinach, which are high in iron, are consumed in large quantities on a daily basis by Kenyan runners.

A bit about Colin Thomas

Colin is a freelance physiologist, writer and speaker who helps runners, from beginners to elite, all over the world to reach their running goals. He has spent time in Kenya with some of the world’s best coaches and athletes. He is a runner himself, with a current marathon PB of 2.33.

See or email him at [email protected]

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