I Can Too run with Kenyans

by Emma Brown 17 Apr 2019

Can Too running Coach Matt Joyce’s shares his running travel adventure.

I recently went on a two-week training camp in Iten, Kenya — the breeding ground of Olympic and World champions. This was a dream destination of mine, especially as my favourite book is Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn.

The camp consisted of two training sessions a day plus educational tutorials where we learnt about the Kenyans approach to long distance running, psychology and their culture at the St Patrick’s school. The institution’s alumni include Peter Rono, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Wilson Boit Kipketer, a 1997 world champion and 2000 Olympic silver medalist.

I got to live the Kenyan way and enjoy the lifestyle of a professional runner including getting adequate recovery. I ate ugali, their staple food — a dense carbohydrate made from cornmeal, maize and flour. It was an unreal experience to train at high altitude, 2,400m above sea level, which makes training more intense.

Of the 4,000 population of Iten, 1,000 members of the community are runners trying to make it, to change not only their lives, but to improve the quality of life for their family and community. I met some professional athletes, such as former world champ dual medalist, Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet. I visited her home and saw how her successful running career has completely changed her quality of life and gave her a purpose. Running is like a religion over there and gives meaning to life.

Like Can Too – where you have a team supporting you in your running goals – that team work and community element is really present in Kenya where runners (elite and recreational) are happy to help others succeed.

Since I’ve returned from the camp I’ve achieved my second quickest 1,500 metre time, which has given me a boost and confidence from that training.

See Matt featuring in the below video: Can Too Runs West.