We’ve all heard about elite endurance athletes escaping the cold winter of the UK to concentrate on serious training at altitude in Kenya – but what actually happens on these training camps?
Well, Orbana are lucky to have an insiders view from a young and talented endurance runner – Bradley Goater. Bradley is currently in Iten, Kenya, on his first High Altitude Training Camp and he’s taken a bit of time out to give the inside scoop.
This time last year I remember sitting on Facebook feeling very jealous of the GB athletes that were out training hard in Iten leading up to the European Cross Country trials which were to be held in Sefton Park, Liverpool. By simply looking at pictures of athletes I was instantly inspired and knew that I had to get out to Iten if I wanted to progress as an athlete and have any chance of making the European Juniors Cross Country team. So after finishing my A levels in June I decided it was best to take a gap year and really focus all my energy on training. 4 months later I find myself sitting in the High Altitude Training Camp (HATC) lounge writing a blog after a steady 40 minutes run up and down the Kenyan dirt trails!
Wednesday 24th October 2012 – Time to say goodbye to friends and family
- After a comfortable 8.5 hour flight from Heathrow terminal 4 to Jomo Kenyatta international airport myself, my training partner Richard Charles and my coach Noel Stoddart were all faced with what turned out to be a 6 hour car journey from Nairboi to Iten. The journey itself was very enduring but the experience of ‘rush hour’ in Nairobi, capturing wildlife at its finest, the bumpy Kenyan roads and best of all over-looking the great Rift Valley more than made up for my sore glutes!
Thursday 25th October 2012 - Arrival at the HATC
- I arrived at the HATC with warm greetings, had a short tour of the complex and then directed to my bedroom. My first thoughts were very positive, the HATC just looked great! Obviously at altitude it’s only sensible to take it very easy for the first 5-7 days due to the lack of oxygen making the simplest of tasks harder than back in London. So a brisk walk was on the agenda! I walked for about 60 minutes through Iten to what is known as ‘The View’. The view was a great sight overlooking the Rift Valley, probably the best view I have ever seen. The walk in itself was very comfortable but by just walking up slight inclines my breathing rate increased. Ugali, greens, pizza and Chai were for supper, a great way to end my first day in Kenya.
Friday 26th October - My first jog in Iten
- On the schedule today was another morning walk then a VERY EASY jog in the afternoon. 2.5 km from camp is Kamariny Stadium with its dirt track so for our am walk we headed in that direction. Once at the track I had to just do a slow lap of the track to soak in the atmosphere. Core was next then a 2.5 km walk back to the camp. With the guidence of my Vo2 max results which were carried out prior to the trip I knew exactly what pace EASY was for my afternoon trot. 3.84 miles in 30 minutes…. by far my slowest run ever but by far the most inspirational run to date.
- My morning run (7.30 am) was a very comfortable 37 minutes alongside Tom Lancashire for the later part of the run. Covering 4.8 miles and feeling a whole lot better than the previous day was very encouraging. Mobility work in the gym, lunch and a nap followed the morning run. 5 pm came around quick.. time to run again! Another 4.8 miles in 35 minutes. My first double day was complete, 9.6 miles in the bag.
Sunday 28th October - St Patricks Loop
- Sundays have always been my long run day, no changes in Kenya! 70 mins was in store, and the sun didn’t hold back. Prior to the run (9am) I had breakfast at 7am- Kenyan porridge, pancakes and a banana. The group set off at 9am, just as the clouds disappeared and the sun came out to play! After 10 miles, plenty of challenging hills and hundreds of squeaky ”How are you?” being asked as I ran past Kenyan children, my longest run to date in Kenya was complete! The run was very enjoyable and I finished feeling very strong. The rest of my Sunday consisted of gym, food, drink, sleep, movies, emailing, skyping and Manchester United’s win over Chelsea!
Monday 29th October - Steady run time
- Again it was a 7am start just enough time to have a cold shower, prepare some Orbana for after my run, weight check and my heart rate and blood oxygen saturation level monitored by the UKA staff. This felt like my first test at altitude as the dirt trails were particularly muddy due to heavy rain the night before leading to very heavy running shoes and additionally the route was hilly! 6.51/mi was my fastest run to date in Kenya so I was pleased. My afternoon consisted of a nice nap then another run- 30 minutes very easy with coach Stoddart.
Tuesday 30th October - Session day
- 7×2 mins was my first session at altitude. The session was carried out on road as the trials were too muddy. Myself, Charlie Grice, Mukhtar Mohammed and Keith Gerard all set out at 10am after a 20 minute warm up, a few strides and some leg swings. 5 reps in and I was feeling great my heart rate was spot on and my breathing was very controlled. The next to reps were tough as we were against the wind and running slightly up hill, but overall a strong session. After rehydrating with Orbana and refuelling with plenty of food I was able to relax for a few hours before my massage with Hilary- a Kenyan masseuse who has treated many elite athletes in his time, David Rudisha and Mo Farah to name a few. I left feeling rejuvenated This afternoon I will be on the Cross trainer with Richard, who is nursing an achilles injury, then barefoot drills in the gym.
And there you have it – my first at HTAC under my belt, with a few more to come!
Thanks for reading