Two weeks spent mixing with the African powerhouses of international sport, including the Kenyans was a coach's dream come true! That was my experience as the cycling coach in charge of the Cook Islands cycling team (1 cyclist) at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
What astonished me was the modesty of these world beaters. On one occasion, the head of the Kenyan running team asked me for advice about what he could do to be a better coach. Fortunately, I was sitting down at the time, otherwise I would have fallen over! My advice to him was to keep doing the basics well and to never lose sight of them. So, what are the Kenyan basics? Here they are - revealed for the very first time:
- Be born at altitude and into poverty
- Be raised on a low calorie whole foods diet
- Have no shoes
- Run or walk several miles to and from school
- Carry heavy water containers several miles a day
- Till the fields by hand
- Round up the goats and cattle
- At 18yrs, win a scholarship to train with a running squad in the city where you are mentored by current and past world champions
- Do a few months of hard interval training then;
Race for your life!
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