30 Dec Kenya: the lessons learnt | Katie Brough

I thought I would be writing my blog from the Euro Championships or from the Great Edinburgh Cross Country having spent a month in Kenya as preparation for these two events. Instead, I am writing this on my computer at home figuring out whether I am fit enough to compete in the Cheshire championships at the weekend.

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I have to admit; during my time in Kenya I genuinely haven’t trained so hard. As athletes we are rarely satisfied with our training sessions…and on that note, with our race performance either. I always compare my times in training to the weeks before or if I am feeling particularly geeky, the year before. If my times haven’t increased massively (and no, a marginal improvement is never enough!) then I go into self-pity mode and promise myself I will train doubly harder the next session.

But having to leave my son for 4 weeks and being without pay for a month, I committed myself to not wasting a single mile on Kenyan soil. Or should I say Kenyan clay. Or Kenyan mud if it had been raining the night before.

Whilst in Kenya I utilised every single resource that was possible. The British Athletics set up in Kenya is fantastic. I knew from the minute I woke up what my Oxygen stats were, my weight (to my despair!) and just to be aware of any problems that might occur during training session.

The trials in Kenya where always checked before we set out on any runs if the weather had been bad, and we always had staff to follow us on our runs. The sessions where brutal, in particular the tempo sessions. I thought I had nailed tempo paces through the years… and then you train with Mellissa Courtney and get buried alive. The perfect training companion for the trip. I literally hung onto her for dear life.

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But mostly, the advice from the other athletes is what I will treasure the most. I was so strict on myself before Kenya. I wouldn’t dream of having a dessert the week of a race and would ration myself to 1 can of coke a day. But apparently, I am the one with the obsessive outlook on athletics. I learned that I am not a robot; desserts are NOT going to negate the work I have done in training. Yes…I genuinely thought that! 1 small glass of wine at the weekend is not going to cause any harm and other athletes… shock horror… also eat chocolate!!!


katie blog groupBut my new relaxed outlook on my eating habits and athletics was never going to prepare me for the next three weeks of hell from the moment I touched down at Heathrow on the Thursday morning. Whilst me and Ross Millington where enjoying a nice breakfast at the airport and he was hearing for the 10th time about my Sons birthday party that same evening along with all the presents I had bought him I had started to feel a little unwell. As any parent knows, on the day of a child’s birthday party there is no time to do anything apart from put up decorations, wrap the last of the presents, make sure there are NO songs from “Frozen” on the party play list and do a full buffet for 15 children and parents…I just didn’t have time to be ill. But my Friday night I had realised that all was not well and the Doctor confirmed that I had Giardia. Giardia is a parasite that is caught from contaminated water or eating food that hadn’t been washed correctly. I have been over in my mind 100 times how I could have gotten it. Singing in the shower to Katy Perry and accidentally swallowing some water or not sanitizing my hands properly during the trip? Although, my friend Jess Hartopp will confirm that when I wash my hands, I do in fact wash my hands, not once but three times. But OCD is rife among the athletic community so I am just normal on that front.

On the advice of the Doctor I was able to flush the main “severe” symptoms out of my system within about 5 days but I didn’t realise the little **** would then hang around until now. Its 5 weeks on, give me a break.

The highlight of being home has to be running a terrible, terrible time at the Telford 10K and questioning why after such a great stint in Kenya I wasn’t able to get anywhere near my PB. Only to then come down with Tonsillitis 48 hours later.

For the last two weeks at every session I have told my coach that I am going to quit running. Can’t be bothered with the early morning runs and the runs straight after work. Can’t be bothered in sleeping in a hypoxic tent every night. Can’t be bothered with any more disappointment.

But I have entered the 10000m at Highgate. I will be doing the BMCs over the Summer so my coach doesn’t believe I will quite. And neither do I.

There is one thing that drives me to get up in the dark for a run before the school run.

There is one thing that makes me still put on the Hypoxic generator on at night.

There is one thing that drives me to eat disgusting Kale. Hope.

Hope that one day it will all come together and I will know when I have “made it” in my athletics. I don’t know when that will be. I don’t even know if it will be in the shape of a major medal. But I will know when I have satisfied that feeling I get every day to just keep on going.

And I won’ be throwing the towel in just because I brought a pet home with an angry face.