Despatches from the front line

I’d done my run this morning (actually my wife, who, being Swiss, is genetically programmed to forgo drink, food and sleep in the presence of snow, had me out running by 7am this morning in London’s first snow this winter) and I had settled down to write a blog post or two and check what the world was up to when I happened to notice that Ben Moreau (@ben_moreau) was online. Ben flew to Iten in Kenya a week ago for a few weeks’ training in advance of his attempt at Olympic qualification at the London marathon in April this year. So I jumped on the opportunity to ask him how things were going. He updated me on what was happening out there and I thought I’d pass on his news.

Ben said that he has finally acclimatised to the altitude and had “experienced one Kenyan training session”. How was it? “It was brutal”. Now coming from a man like Ben Moreau, who I have seen train and race on numerous occasions, when he says it was brutal, that means it must have been massively tough. Ben also said that he is being sensible, but that has to be put in the context of where he is and what he is doing – his sensible and most other peoples sensible are certainly going to be different!

I mentioned to Ben that I’d been out running in the snow and how hard I’d found it and he replied that whilst I was jogging in the snow he had discovered myth #1 about east African runners: that Kenyans always start runs slow. He told me about the long (erm, slow) run that he did yesterday where the 3rd mile was 5.28 min/mile and he was hanging off the back of the group!

Today included a well earned easy 45 minutes run after yesterday’s run and who can blame Ben for taking it easy. The long run was 16 miles in 95 minutes with the last 4 miles uphill.

Ben sent me his Garmin stats for Saturday’s run, just to give me an idea for what a long slow run looks like in Kenya:

Total time: 1hr 40mins
Average pace: 6:10 min/mile
Fastest pace: 4:59 min/mile
Elevation at highest point: 7,845 ft

Ben's splits for his long run in Kenya

It's not flat then...

But whilst those stats tell a story of running in a very different place, some things never change. Ben told me about catching another runner whilst out on that run who appeared to be labouring somewhat. As Ben passed him, the chap in question rushed back past Ben and shot off into the distance… until about eight miles later when Ben caught him again. This time when Ben went past there was no response! Sounds just like the people who hate to be passed on the canal towpath around Victoria Park in east London!

So we had covered training. And seeing as Ben was on Facebook, I think it is safe to assume that he was resting. So what about nutrition? How was Ben getting on with Ugali for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Well, who knows? He told me that he was having… wait for it… spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. What??? He did say though that he loves the chapatis that are served in Iten. At least that is authentic Kenyan cuisine!

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to catch up with Ben again and find out how he is getting on, but for now I think it is safe to say that he is in a great place to train well and come back in the best possible shape to make the Team GB selectors sit up and take notice. I hope you’ll all join me in wishing him luck.

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About simon

I run marathons. Everything else is a result of that.

5 Responses to “Despatches from the front line”

  1. Paul Hobrough February 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    A refreshing view of what one great runner considers great and exceptional about our soon to be Olympic athlete Mr Ben Moreau

    Treated Ben Whitby and Scott overall this week and I see these three as the Men’s team come April selection. That’s my dream, that’s their dream.

    • simon February 7, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Paul, thanks for the comment. It would certainly be a dream come true if Ben, Ben and Scott are Team GB for the marathon. Delighted for you that you are doing your part.

    • Ben Moreau February 10, 2012 at 5:01 am #

      Thanks Paul I got treated by the Kenya team physio this week. He told me to “unleash the beast within me”. I said my beast was more of a frog and he chastised me.

  2. Jacob Aliet February 7, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Nice site. Ben will do just fine, dont you worry about a thing. I enjoy your posts and will link up to your site. I am a slow runner trying to be a fast runner.

    • simon February 7, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Jacob. Great to have you here and I agree that Ben will do just fine. We’re all slow runners trying to be fast runners. I hope I can help you in some way.

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