Running lessons from Kapchorwa – Uganda

From 29th December 2017 to 9th January 2018 Danish runners Mads & Oliver went for a first time altitude training in Kapchorwa and Sipi Falls. The major goal of their Uganda Runners Experience: to learn from elite Sebei runners and coaches about how to train on altitude. Based on our clients’ needs, for instance on frequency of training and preferred distances, we designed a tailor-made Runners Experience of 10-days.

In this blog we present the major running lessons and highlights of Mads’ and Oliver’s Uganda Runners Experience.

Lesson 1: Make long strides downhill

From Coach to Coach’ running guide George Mwoko, an experienced runner and guide from Sipi Falls, learned Mads & Oliver to relax their strides during the downhill parts of the training. For Mads, this had the following impact:

“We learned a lot from George about how our running techniques should be when we run down a hill. The most important thing he told us was to make long strides and just let the legs do the job. If you can learn to let loose and just “roll” down to save energy, you have more power to continue on the flat ground and on the next hill you have to climb.”

              Mads & Oliver with their FCTC running guide George

Lesson 2: Always go hard uphill!

Our second running guide Fred (we always operate in a team) helped both adventurous runners with their uphill training. And the hills of Kapchorwa can actually be quite steep! The major secret here is to:

“Always go hard uphill! Every time there comes a hill you have to ‘attack’ it and run as hard as possible to get the most out of it. The breathing need to be controlled “breath out of the nose instead of the mouth” and focus on pulling your legs high forward and try to make the heels touch your butt.”

Small corrections in their uphill technique led to significant improvements for Mads and Oliver.

Mads & Oliver with their running guide Fred

Lesson 3: Alternative programming

Like the Kapchorwa athletes, Mads & Oliver are used to having two training moments a day: one in the early morning and one in the evening. What they are not used to is to have an intensive training in the morning and a relaxed training in the evening. In Denmark it is just the other way around. Mads perception about this:

“We were surprised that the athletes in Kapchorwa are doing it the other way, but it makes sense. In the Kapchorwa way you restitute better and have more time during the day to get ready for the morning speed session. All in all we learned a lot from the Kapchorwa athletes, both in training and eating habits. It’s important to have a bit of food right after finishing a run. And that is possible with the Kapchorwa programming”

The major highlights of the program are as follows.

Highlight 1: Interaction with elite athletes

As it turned out, elite athletes in Kapchorwa are very social and approachable. In fact, they love to train with competitive foreign runners because it gives them new inspiration. David Cherop – the brother to Olympic Champion Stephen Kiprotich – said in reaction to Mads & Oliver’s participation:

“If we see a foreigner run this fast, we cannot fail to improve our own speed”.

On the following picture you can see Mads & Oliver together with a bunch of Kapchorwa athletes:

           Mads and Oliver with group of elite and talented athletes 

Highlight 2: Cross country training National High Altitude Training Center Teryet

On the second last day of their experience Mads & Oliver went to Teryet with some young, talented runners from our Home of Talents project. Teryet is the site of the proposed Kiprotich National High Altitude Training Center. What we saw there is a dynamic training run on the Teryet cross country track with some gorgeous views.

Mads & Oliver together with young athletes at the National High                                          Altitude Training Center in Teryet

Highlight 3: Social Community interaction

As the From Coach to Coach team, we learned to know Mads & Oliver as two social guys. That matched well with the friendly character of our runners and the surrounding Communities. The social interaction in the Communities and with the runners is one of the things Mads enjoyed the most:

“We were really surprised about the openness and kindness of the athletes and staff in the From Coach to Coach Sports Skills Center. Everybody wanted to talk and give good advices on our running. A good memory we have was on new year´s day when we did a run in Teryet and were suddenly stopped by a car. First we thought it was a friend of George, but then we saw that Joshua Cheptegei was inside the car. He stopped us to say hello and welcomed us to his area for training. Maybe it sounds silly but in Denmark we are not used to see celebrities stopping and talking with us in the streets”

From left to right: Community boy, George, Oliver, Juliet Chepoyeyin, Joshua Cheptegei and Mads

              Mads interacting with a lady from the Teryet Community

Of course there are more lessons learned by Mads & Oliver. But as they are competitive runners we respect their decision to not share all of their secrets with you! Nevertheless, Mads does have a final advice if you want to learn more about the running on altitude:

“Just come to Kapchorwa, because the only way of learning new running skills is fully immersing yourself into the experience!”

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