RUNNING WITH THE KENYANS 6
Anti-coping - 15th January 2016
Fear not, I will end this blog on a positive note. I’m just keen to share my recent witnessing of anti-doping’s mechanics, something I didn’t expect to be so hapless and arduous.
‘Tell us where you are or we'll ban you for two years.’
Cue panic (especially considering the camp Wi-Fi is in siesta mode and I’m about to nip to town for a brew).
It’s not right for me to identify any individual or nation in this. Besides, this happens everywhere and could happen to anyone.
Perhaps I was on a Sunday Times binge last year, but what a vacant way of inspiring compliance… Fill out a form, make sure you enter an address that the system recognises, and do it all within an aggressively short timespan (but not whilst they’re carrying out system maintenance).
Then consider this: (again naming no names) a banned athlete spends a short spell at the camp but is removed within a couple of days. I can’t note their feats but they’re glittering on the world stage. How and why are they here in the first place? Surely they lost that privilege?
Of course the forms were completed and life continued as normal, but it seemed the clean are being treated with the same contempt and aggression as the dirty. It felt wrong. Who knows if I’ll ‘make it’, but if I do I hope by then it’s less of a burden than this!
Which begs the question: where is the trust? That one’s easy to answer. Within the thousands of honest athletes who enter a world of pain several times a week to improve.
So here’s a more incisive question: where is the control? Answer: there isn’t any. It’s a wild west out there and there’s a long way to go.
Offering a solution to doping was never the point of this blog, though I can say for sure that online bureaucracy won’t fix anything. Nonetheless I hope you find this snippet as interesting and shambolic as I did.
The inspiration and commitment stands firm having seen the application and detail that running peers invest at home and out here. Honest improvement is the thrill behind all of this, which leads me neatly onto my final week of training.
Saturday’s tempo and hill workout went well, the repercussions of Sunday’s mammoth were greatly reduced, and then I managed the four quickest mile reps I’ve ever ran on Monday evening. Wednesday’s long tempo gave me a chance to leave on a high note.
Sadly as we know, training never goes perfectly all the time. On paper, five miles in under 30 minutes is half-decent at altitude, but it was a battle from minute one, a breathless slog carried out with no rhythm.
Clearly cumulative fatigue lasts longer out here, so perhaps my Saturday-Monday-Wednesday regime is ambitious. Perhaps I’m mentally weary from being here for over a month. Perhaps it was one of those days when my body just didn’t have the spark. Whatever it is, I’ve learnt something, but dwelling on it is pointless and we have something to work on back at sea level. Every cloud…
Let’s be honest, Coach Roden sent me here with a watertight training plan and we’ve only tweaked it once. I’ve had no niggles, no injuries, no illness, and skipped one session due to fatigue. Not everyone gets such a smooth ride during normal training, let alone this high up, so I count myself lucky.
Easy first week. Stay hydrated. Don’t let the sun dominate. Eat well. Stick to the plan. Work hard when it counts. Recover properly. I’ve barely made a mistake and as a result I’ve made the most from this priceless experience.
2015 was chaotic, a year spent haring to London and back every week with work. Training consistently was an uphill battle (no pun intended). My career is important to me but as the year went on and decisions needed making, I suddenly realised running had hit top spot on my list of priorities.
Therefore this trip came at a perfect time, affording me five weeks of headspace in a motivational environment, allowing me to benefit from strong training amongst a group of tremendous new friends and quality athletes. The training block has been as close to perfect as I could have hoped, and now I look forward to starting a Manchester-based job next week, which will help me retain more energy ahead of the big cross-country races and the next track season.
So as I round off, why did I come here? To enhance my endurance and become a stronger runner. Have I done it? Absolutely - all sessions barring the long tempo have improved and I feel stronger because of it. How much have I improved? Who knows, but I’m excited to find out.
If running reinvented me, then Kenya’s done it again. ‘Trip of a lifetime’ is probably accurate, though I do intend to return one day, or try an alternative altitude venue. Putting logistics to one side, I fully recommend it to anyone with even a faint curiosity.
If you’ve enjoyed my account half as much as I’ve enjoyed life in Kenya, then I’ve done a job. This leaves me with one more night in the mosquito graveyard before the long journey back on Saturday. Even the length of stay was well-judged – five weeks here has been perfect and I’m more than ready for my own bed before I say hello again to family, friends, Coach Roden and the Sale group.
Posted 15/01/2016 09:26