This week I’m…

by mphcrawley

This week I’m going to try to bow to the pressure to write about something other than running for part of the post. As Brendan Foster put it, ‘sitting around waiting for your red blood cells to multiply isn’t the most fascinating pastime’ and I’m sure reading about altitude training can be less interesting than actually doing it!

Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been working for an NGO called the Climate Change Forum to get some experience in the sector before studying International Development next year. The work has been fairly varied so far – from redesigning parts of their branding and website to reading and summarising reports written in English. This aspect of the job has given me a preview of the density of some of the documents produced by the UN and the World Bank – I’ll have more of that to look forward to next year! I’ll hopefully be visiting a couple of their projects in more rural areas soon to take photos, and apparently I’m in charge of filming ‘Earth Day’ in mid-April. My Amharic is now at the level where I can confidently negotiate the three stages of public transport necessary to get to the office – a ‘Bajaj’ similar to the motorised rickshaws in India and two ‘taxis’, which are really minibuses that operate informally and leave whenever they’re full. These can be quite confusing as they are liable to change their route based on the consensus of those inside! I’m a regular in one of the cafés near work now, where they do a four shot macchiato for about 20p. I’ve been to major coffee producing countries before where they export all the good stuff and all you can get is Nescafe, so the café culture here has come as a welcome surprise.

This afternoon Gudisa and I went to the café down the road where the owner introduced us to a ‘famous Kenyan runner’. This turned out to be a miscommunication – he was Sudanese and not a runner, which was fairly apparent by his corpulent appearance – but rather Abubaker Kaki’s (1.42 for 800m, silver medallist in the 2011 World Championhips) coach. He chastised us for sitting down whilst we were ‘recovering’ from training, as apparently this puts undue strain on the hamstrings and we should have been at home lying down. I’m pretty certain I would go crazy if I spent the 21 hours a day I don’t spend training horizontal though! It does seem to be the way all of the club runners here live, however, as none of them have other jobs. They are paid around 1,000 birr a month by their teams, which is about £37 or roughly equivalent to the amount you can make breaking rocks at the roadside for nine hours a day. I know which job I’d rather do given the choice!

I’m more or less acclimatised now as far as I can tell. The conversion for altitude at 2,400m is supposed to be around 25 seconds per mile, and I did a 5 mile tempo run today in 27 minutes, which should equate to around 24.55 or approximately what I’d expect to run at sea level. We did the run about an hour away from the centre of town in Sabata, on a newly laid road that was perfect for running. Accordingly, there were at least 500 runners from another 20 teams there, which made it feel a bit like turning up for a race (and one where I’d almost certainly finish pretty close to the back!)


One of many groups flying past.

The photo below is of a coach talking to a group that includes Gebre Gebremariam and several other sub-60 minute half marathon runners. When he’d finished his little speech he got a round of applause from the athletes, who were sitting around him, cross-legged and in silence, like primary school children. I imagine there’d be plenty of coaches in the UK who’d gladly swap their group for his!



Finally, for the few people interested, here’s the training I’ve done in the past two weeks:

Sunday 11th – AM 8 miles steady. PM – 4 miles steady

Monday 12th – AM 7 miles steady. PM – 4 miles easy

Tuesday 13th – AM 16 miles, easy pace but incredibly tough on Entoto.

Wednesday 14th – AM  7 miles steady. PM – 4 miles steady

Thursday 15th – AM  Approx 3km (4 mins rec), 3 x 1km (2 mins rec) on unmeasured dirt track. PM – 4 miles easy

Friday 16th – AM  8 miles steady. PM – 4.5 miles steady

Saturday 17th – AM 12 x 40 second hill reps, jog recovery. Felt ok, repetitions sufficiently short not to be overly effected by altitude! PM – 4 miles easy

Total – 85 miles.

Sunday 18th  – AM 13.5 miles steady

Monday 19th – AM 8.5 miles steady. PM – Missed session to meet Haile!

Tuesday 20th – AM 8 x 1km on track (90 seconds recovery). PM – 6 miles steady

Wednesday 21st – AM 9 miles steady PM – 4 miles easy

Thursday 22nd – AM 11.5 miles acceleration run in forest. Felt good. PM – 4 miles easy

Friday 23rd – AM 8 miles easy. PM – 4 miles easy

Saturday 24th – AM 8km tempo run on the road in 27 mins. PM – 4 miles easy


Total – 90 miles.