There is no doubt Kenyan runners are the fastest middle and long distance runners on earth. Running statistics tell it as it is. Since 1988, for example, 20 of the 25 first-place men in the Boston Marathon have been Kenyan. Of the top 25 male record holders for the 3000-meter steeplechase, 18 are Kenyan. Seven of the last 8 London marathons were won by Kenyans. Last year, Kenyan men won four of the five world major marathons and lay claim to 60 of the top 100 ranked marathoners. An astonishing 239 Kenyans broke two hours and fifteen minutes last year in the marathon.
So, how does this medium-size country of 41 million dominates the world in competitive running?
High Mileage Training For Speed
Kenyan runners chalk up about 140 miles of running per week. They run 3 times per day and train for six days in a week. The only day they take a rest is on Sunday, which is a day of worship in this Christian majority country.
There is nothing special about their training methods. Any one who wants to get faster at running can copy their methods and see his/her running speed increase.
How To Train and Increase Your Running Speed Like The Kenyans
Start slow, really slow
These guys start out at something like a stumble, it’s slow, very slow. Think of when you put a pot of water on to boil, you can’t pinpoint when it started to get hot but the end result is undeniable.
As you ease into your run your muscles warm up gradually, and before you even notice you will be up to your pace. At the end of your run you will be moving quickly and comfortably and be totally relaxed.
Vary your training a lot
As an example these guys will do a 10k run in about 50 minutes and then do the same run in 30 minutes straight afterward. When it’s time to go easy after or before a hard run, these guys really do nothing more than a trot.
This allows them to really nail the next hard session with 100% effort.
To reach your racing potential, follow the Kenyans. Easy runs easier and hard runs harder.
Kenyans Run in a group to inspire and Challenge each other
You will very rarely see a Kenyan train on his own, they do all their runs with at least one or more people. Running with other runners of the same ability has many benefits.
You will stick to your plans if others are counting on you. On bad days they can pull you along. Mentally training is less of a burden with other runners around.
Vary your running surface
Most of the Kenyans training is done on gravel roads, they seldom experience any of the aches and pains associated with running on the road and very rarely do up an injury.
Try and run on grass or gravel roads when you can, it feels better, will lessen the continuous impact on your body and minimize your risk for injury.
Hit those hills
Kenyans place great emphasis on specific hill training. They do a hill training session once a week, usually 12 to 15 hill repeats on short hills that take 30 to 60 seconds to climb and then jog slowly back down again.
These workouts improve your aerobic capacity, leg strength, range of motion and explosive power.
Do diagonal training sessions
These guys run fast diagonally across a playing field and then jog along the goal line to the next corner and repeat. Mostly they would do about 30 minutes to an hour of this. Theses workouts greatly improve your finishing kick in races.
Do running drills
Not all Kenyans are born with that graceful perfect running technique, they spend a tremendous amount of time on flexibility, range-of-motion and form drills.
Incorporate this practice in your routine, pick a few drills to do after your runs.
Lastly, eat like the Kenyans
A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2004 analyzed the diets of several elite Kenyan runners. It found most of their nutrients came from vegetable sources, with the staples being bread, boiled rice, poached potatoes, boiled porridge, cabbage, kidney beans and ugali. In fact, 76 per cent of their daily calories came from carbohydrates. The runners in the study ate some meat, mostly beef, but just four times a week in fairly small amounts (about 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces a day). They also drink a lot of milk and tea, which is not made with water but with full-fat cow’s milk. It’s loaded with sugar, and delicious. What’s more, there are no vitamin supplements, no protein powders or special elixirs. Kenyan runners simply rely on real food to fuel their workouts and races.
you may never be as fast the Kenyans, you can certainly train like they do and that can only benefit your running.
Additional material from Running Tips website.