July 18, 2024

Training Tips From Kenya’s Top Running Coach

Patrick Sang was an elite steeplechase runner in the 1990s, but since then has become known as coach to some of Kenya’s top distance runners. These include Faith Kipyegon and 2-time Olympic Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, who’s aiming for an unprecedented third Marathon gold medal in Paris.

Kipyegon has also won gold medals (1500 meters) in the last two Olympics. She recently broke her own world record in the metric mile, and will be running again in Paris.

What sets these athletes apart? Sang believes it could be the regular inclusion of long runs in their training programs. Both Kipyegon and 800-meter star Wycliffe Kinyamal cover up to 25 miles in practice even though their races take them only 100 seconds to 14 minutes.

When Kipchoge could place no higher than 10th in the Tokyo Marathon last February, marathon observers wondered if he was nearing the end of his legendary career. Kipchoge himself acknowledged that he had been stressed by threats he and his family received after the car-accident death of Kelvin Kiptum earlier the same month.

Sang addressed the doubts about Kipchoge on two levels. First, he said that Kipchoge “is the easiest person to train. Eliud knows why he is training, he knows this is the time for this, this is the time for that. He knows why he is doing it.”

Second, Kipchoge is now running for a different purpose than earlier in his life. Then he wanted simply to make it to the Olympics, to run fast times, to win races. Now he has a different outlook. “He is thinking about legacy,” notes Sang. He hopes that he “can influence people.”

Kipchoge is famous for his calm but steely resolve. How much does that underpin his marathon success? As Sang notes: “People who love sport, even the scientists, they want to know: Is it the mind or is it only the body?”

That’s a topic we will be debating forever. Paris will provide more context. The men’s Olympic Marathon will be run on Saturday, August 10 at 8 am Paris time (2 pm USA Eastern time). More at Athletics Weekly.

Step Up To Stronger Running, Faster Races (And Fewer Injuries)

Many runners fail to appreciate that running is a one-leg-at-a-time activity. We basically hop from one foot to the other. 

This means that the most effective strengthening exercises will be those that we perform with one leg. For example, the single-leg bridge exercise (here) is better than doing the same exercise with both legs planted on the floor.

Step-ups are another simple but effective single-leg exercise for runners. They build strength and stability of key running muscles, in particular simulating the movements involved in hill running (and cycling). That’s one reason why former champion triathlete Mark Allen has long recommended the specificity of the step-up exercise. 

Here’s all it takes: “Perform step-ups in the gym by stepping on a plyometric box, an adjustable aerobic step, or a weight bench. Outdoors, use a picnic bench, a tree stump, or a large, flat rock. Your step must be stable and the area around your step must be clear of tripping hazards.” Add hand weights (or a weight vest) to your routine as you gain confidence and proficiency. More at Triathlete. 

Slithering Sustainability: How Python Meat Could Save The Plant

Many of us make our dietary choices based on personal health, performance, and planetary-health outcomes. The latter is a relatively new concern, often based on the fact that meat and other agribusiness processes deplete vast resources on a challenged planet.

This raises the question: Can a low-resource diet also be a healthy one? A major new study answered “Yes” to that question.

When Harvard researchers investigated more than 200,000 subjects (with 34 years of followup), they found that a higher Planetary Health Diet Index (PHDI) was associated with a “lower risk of total and cause specific mortality and environmental impacts.” More at American J of Clinical Nutrition with free full text.

A round up of this and a similar paper reminds us that Earth-friendly foods are not always healthy. Indeed, if they are ultra processed: “Poof! All the virtue goes up in smoke.” More at ConscienHealth.

If you’d like to avoid the worst ultra-processed foods, you’d do well to stay away from highly processed meat and soft drinks laden with sugars and sugar substitutes. More at CNN.

And if you like the taste of python meat (reportedly much like chicken), you should consider eating more of the slithery snake because “python farming may offer a flexible and efficient response to global food insecurity.” More at Scientific Reports with free full text.

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> The latest report on massage guns: What are they, how they work, and do they actually assist recovery and injury prevention?

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.  

# 6 reasons why you should eat like a Tour de France rider

# Sweat & sodium: The complete runner’s guide to salt replacement

# 5 key marathon lessons straight from the U.S. Olympic Team

# Multivitamins and mortality: The whole truth

# 4 things over-40 runners need to know about super shoes

# Your personal choices can eliminate half of cancer deaths

# Elite athletes have lower suicide rates than the general population

# How to run with your spirit--a great quote from Tim Noakes

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See  you again next week. Amby