Some thoughts on the Ethiopian diet

I’ve never really thought too much about food when I’ve been training hard. I think Steve Jones said he did his marathon training on a diet of Mars Bars, Coca Cola and meat pies, so I just assumed that if the engine was working hard enough it would burn anything.

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Coming down to earth

I have now come down from altitude to race twice, but I still seem to be none the wiser as to how best to go about getting the best out of myself at sea-level after months at 2,500m. I’ve always thought that running was more art than science and that definitely seems to be true in this case; some research says you should race immediately whilst some says you should wait for two to three weeks. For some, I suspect, the best time is somewhere in between.

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A Week in the Life - Michael in Ethiopia

My alarm goes off at 4.55am; the bus leaves from the bottom of the hill at 5.20am. Zeleke, one of the athletes from our group, unexpectedly emerges from Haile’s room. ‘What are you doing here?’ I ask. ‘My house is near the forest. It’s early. I don’t like the hyenas when it’s dark,’ he says. You can’t argue with that. I start running with the group, but I get dropped going up a hill after 7km. Thick, cloying mud that can’t be shaken off. The group was told to run 3.48/ km. They drop me with a 3.35 uphill kilometer. I back off, but finish 23km in one hour thirty, one of the best long runs I’ve done here.

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A Baptism of Fire (Well, Half a Baptism)

‘I think you should run,’ the coach told me, ‘but you’re not ready for 12km here yet.’ I couldn’t have agreed more. I’d only been here two weeks and I definitely wasn’t properly acclimatised yet. ‘You can run the junior race,’ he said, ‘it’s 8km.’ I told him that whilst I knew they were a bit lax on birth certificates here, twenty-eight was probably pushing it in an under-twenty race. ‘OK you can run half of the big race then,’ he said.

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The year ahead starting in Ethiopia

2015 was a strange year for me. I had the best year of results I’ve ever had, but didn’t finish a race beyond April the 19th, despite completing a really hard training block in preparation for the World 50km in Doha. In a way, all that training feels wasted, as I wasn’t able to race whilst I was back in the UK – the floods in the Ribble Valley put an end to my intention to at least get a 10km in before the year was up.

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World 50km Championships 2015 – ‘what’s the worst thing about running?’

When I interviewed Ryan Hall for the Guardian earlier this year one answer stood out to me as especially interesting. ‘What’s the worst thing about running?’ I asked him, expecting the answer most athletes give to this question: injury. ‘I think,’ he replied, stretching the lanky frame he’d folded into a wicker chair in the grounds of Yaya Village, ‘it’s not being able to isolate one variable. That’s really tricky when it comes to finding out why you’re not feeling good.

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