As I am writing this, I am currently in Kenya for a month at the Lornah Kiplagat High Altitude Training Centre in Iten. This time of year for me is about focusing on my endurance as well as addressing any weaknesses I have and trying to get as strong as possible for the forthcoming summer season. I have recently undergone strength diagnostic tests at Loughborough University as well as completing bio-mechanics testing at the RS Lab in Belgium in order to improve my running efficiency.
I have been coming here for a number of years because I believe it is the best place in the World for training. Firstly due to the high altitude. We are situated 2500m above sea level and for those that don’t know, at high altitude there is a lower partial pressure of oxygen, which makes training a lot harder. However it encourages the human body to increase the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your muscles. This means that when you return to sea level your fitness increases. Before and after I travel to altitude I undergo fitness tests to measure this.
Secondly, there are minimal distractions up here and the life is very basic. At the camp there is a gym on campus and chefs cook us three meals a day, which are basic, but very nutritious. All of the food is grown on the farm and locating junk food here is very hard! Every morning before breakfast we report to weigh in and write a score out of 1-10 so the physiologist can keep a record of how tired we are because it is easy to lose weight up here and your body can get tired easily.
However due to there being no distractions it is easier to recover in the day and take a nap, this is something I have learned from the Kenyans. They train very hard but also recover very hard, and drink lots of milky tea!
I am here with a select few from the British Athletics team. There are around 15 athletes here including a physiotherapist, physiologist and two team coaches. It is with great thanks to the London Marathon who help fund the camp for us to be here. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to attend these camps twice a year and I believe the camps have helped me achieve my success because I can learn from senior athletes and gain valuable experience. Altitude is a powerful training tool, and from now until the Olympics I will be away again in January and again in May before the summer season starts as I continue my Olympic journey and aim to earn my place in the British Team for Rio 2016.
I thought I should finish up and mention the current situation in athletics. There has been a huge amount of information released about the current corruption within the World Athletics governing body, IAAF, which has been sickening to hear. I really hope that Seb Coe (IAAF President) can implement the correct changes and make sure clean athletes are on a level playing field with the rest of the world. For athletes like myself who are young it is good news that things will be getting sorted out now, but I feel for the athletes who have suffered in the past and been cheated out of medals. I just hope we have a clean Olympics in Rio.
All the best