10 Reasons Why the Kenyans Will Always Be Faster
Everyone wants to know the Kenyan secret. Why are they so darn fast? Well, there is no one reason. We all want the easy some explanation even while we know that there is no such thing. If there was, we could all do the same thing. Or we want to find some genetic explanation so that we can believe that everything is out of our control and excuse ourselves from trying. It’s not genetics, if it was they would be battling the the Tanzanians, but that’s not happening. Instead, the Kenyans have a perfect storm of advantages that have led to their dominance for decades. Since it’s complex, don’t expect much to change any time soon.
1. Diet- well, sorta. The near vegetarian diet works really well. I admit my bias. I think this is a bigger reason than people acknowledge. Not eating the standard Western disease promoting diet for most of their lives gives them an advantage. As modernity continues its invasion, this advantage may disappear.
2. They Run as Kids- A lot! By the time they start competition training, they have an incredible aerobic base few Westerners have achieved. They do this by running to and from school twice a day, running to visit friends, running everywhere.
3. They Run as Kids- They do most of this running barefoot, so develop a fantastic, efficient stride. The first thing they do when training seriously is get shoes, but their formative years are barefoot developing on incredible foot and lower leg strength. And a stride that everyone agrees is the most beautiful in the world.
4. Simplicity- When they train in a training camp, they literally eat, sleep and train. There are no distractions like Internet, TV, movies, mass media, social media etc. Being so focused makes recovery easier. Contrast that to our hectic lifestyle, where many athletes skip sleep to train. Kenyans sleep whenever they want, since there is nothing like a post workout recovery nap.
5. Periodization- Kenyans focus their training in intense blocks for specific races where all distractions are eliminated. Then, when it’s over, they go home, relax, forget about running, rest, recover, eat, put on some weight and refuse to worry about it until the next training period. Spending lots of time with family maximizes their recovery and keeps a work and life balance that us Westerners can only envy.