Hi Steemians! Today I want to write about the world-beating long distance runners in the world.
When it comes to distant running you cannot avoid thinking about Kenyans and Ethiopian athletes, I believe those who follow track and field athletics including marathons agree with me here. But I invite all Steemians to also enjoy this blog and hopefully learn something too.
Kenyans and Ethiopians have dominated middle and long distance running for as long as I can remember. Their running has been unparalleled! Their medal hauls and trophies in international competitions including the Olympic Games in distance running is insanely impressive. In Kenya most of the runners come from the Nandi sub-tribe who comprise the larger Kalenjin tribe from the great Rift Valley. Occasionally Kenya has produced great athletes from other communities like David Rudisha who is a Maasai by tribe.
But what is the reason behind this dominance? Scientists and endurance experts generally agree that there are a combination of factors that can be attributed to this amazing dominance.
High altitudes of the habitats where the majority of these runners hail from has been suggested as a contributing factor to their success in track and field. However, this has been a subject of intense debate. Some scientists have argued that running and training in high altitude where the air is thin and therefore deficient in oxygen stimulates the body to generate more red blood cells and this helps to transfer oxygen to body tissues.
But this is debunked by the fact that there are many other areas in the world with high altitudes with no evidence of great runners popping out in these places. Many athletes have also trained for months in high altitude athletics training camps in Kenya and other destinations with not very significant success.
Personally I buy the active life-style theory. From an early age these guys wake up early, and literally run back and forth in almost every activity; running to and from school, herding and chasing after livestock, running to the river to fetch water and so on. So those tiny lungs and legs start getting stronger at that point..think about that. Running bare-footed also helps build firm contact with the ground strengthening those ankles for hard running pretty early in their lives.
A close observation of their legs reveals they are long and lanky with little muscle bulk. This helps to considerably conserve energy over long distances. Their dietary preferences reveal consumption of largely non-processed natural foods comprising local grains, milk and vegetables.
Many legendary Kenyan athletes however think success in middle and distant running has more to do with the high public expectations of Kenyan athletes. Almost everyone, I included usually expect a gold or at least to get into a medals bracket when Kenyans turn up for major competitions. Qualifying for the finals alone doesn't cut it. This expectation drives the athletes to perform. Their coaches also say adequate preparation, confidence and the mental aspect is key to registering good results. Dominance in long distance has been rightly linked to the Kenyan runners’ unbelievable training regime and discipline.
Considerable inspiration is also offered by potential success to escape rampant poverty in sections of rural Kenya through running competitively in European circuits. Most of the successful runners come from poor backgrounds and this sometimes shows in their humility in success. You only have to look at Eliud Kipchoge who not very long ago did the marathon in 2:04:05 and almost became the first human to do this in under 2hrs! David Rudisha is another outstanding but humble athlete.
So I think its really a combination of factors that really make Kenyan athletes the world beaters they are, and I look forward to watching them perform again and again in many more competitions in the future starting with the upcoming Diamond League Meetings in Zurich and Bruxelles this August, 2018.
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