Nov. 6, 2008 – Training at 2700m

Me, Maryam and Dimana training.

Two days ago I had an interesting experience with altitude training, one that could likely be referred to as an amateur mistake. I had planned on doing a 70 minute moderate run, as I was still in the acclimatization period of this 2700m of altitude. We started out really easy and my heart rate was low, but it slowly crept up and before I even hit the halfway mark I was in tempo mode or at least at the heart rate of which I usually run my tempos. I figured since I was already there I’d see how I made out and kept up what ended up being about a 35 minute tempo run. I had only been here for 4 days so it’s not surprising my breathing and heart rate were difficult to control.

However, besides being really spent that night, it doesn’t seem that I have done any major damage as I’m adapting well as the days go by. I do notice recovery is even more crucial at this altitude – I need to take more naps and consume more calories then normal, as well as take easy runs very easy.

The rest of the group is working very hard and training well. Since the guys have been here about a week longer than us, they are full-on with their training and have been doing some really tough sessions. We’ve also "run" into huge groups of club athletes, as well as some local celebrities, including Bekele, Defar and Dibaba.

A few local kids that decided to join us for some training – they start young!

It’s amazing the number of athletes you see out training at 7am. It seems logical given that running is their national sport and all the athletes have witnessed some of their very own become extremely successful and wealthy from the sport. However, it’s not just the hope of financial compensation that drives these athletes; apparently, the average athlete receives the equivalent of $70 a month from their government-supported club. To most westerners this does not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the concierge at our guest house makes half of that, being an athlete here seems like a good job if you have the abilities. And, the better you get and more national success you have, the more increases and bonuses you receive in your salary.

Me running past a huge group of Ethiopian club athletes.

Of course, of the thousands of Ethiopian runners, only a small percentage will go on to obtain international success and receive a shoe contract, in addition to appearance and prize money – and it is these athletes that really run themselves out of poverty and among the highest financial ranks of those in this country. In fact, the government rewards their top athletes very well; each time an athlete wins a major championship they receive a piece of land. Bekele alone has over 10 different sites where he is building everything from hotels to office buildings, which I think is an extremely valuable entity for the rest of the economy and Ethiopian people because this will also provide jobs. Haile Gebrassalassie has done the same and has over 600 employees that he oversees, in addition to being a world-class, record-breaking athlete.




















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