Running with the Kenyans

Running with the Kenyans❮Download❯ ➵ Running with the Kenyans Author Adharanand Finn – “Completely satisfying as well paced and exhilarating as a good run”— The Boston Globe   As a boy Adharanand Finn was a natural runner imagining he was one of his heroes the Kenyan long distanc “Completely satisfying as well paced and exhilarating as a good run”— The Boston Globe   As a Running with MOBI :¿ boy Adharanand Finn was a natural runner imagining he was one of his heroes the Kenyan long distance runners exploding into prominence as Olympic and world champions But those childhood dreams slipped away—until suddenly in his mid thirties Finn saw and seized an opportunity to learn the secrets of the fastest runners on earth Uprooting his family of five Finn traveled to a small chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya—a mecca for long distance runners thanks to its high altitude endless running paths and some of the top training schools in the world There Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions young hopefuls and barefoot schoolchildren and meet a cast of unforgettable characters Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running—and about life Running with the Kenyans is than one man’s pursuit of a lifelong dream It’s a fascinating portrait of a magical country—and an extraordinary people seemingly born to run  With a new Afterword by the author  “Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime Adharanand Finn tried to run there and succeeded Running with the Kenyans is a great read”—Bernd Heinrich author of Why We Run   “Part scientific study travel memoir and tale of self discovery Finn’s journey makes for a smart and entertaining read”— Publishers Weekly   “A hymn to the spirit to the heartbreaking beauty of tenacity to the joy of movement” —The Plain Dealer. Finn uproots his extremely supportive wife and kids from their home in England and moves to Kenya towell it's not totally clear He wants to see if he can run better even starting in midlife And at least nominally he wants to learn what makes Kenyans such good runners So he goes to live in Kenya for a few months and runs with some KenyansAnd that's or less my issue with the book insofar as I have an issue It isn't that Finn doesn't acknowledge his privilege He does sort of He seems full of admiration for the Kenyans he trains with and befriends Most are from poor rural backgrounds and he sees the hardship and privation they endure There may not be much that he as an individual can do about that But it's a little weird to read a book that dwells in the middle of this kind of ineuity and poverty without ever uestioning the larger structures behind it Finn's not interested in those things or at least not writing about them here This is a book about running But really can you write a book about how hardship makes good runners without uestioning at least a little the systems that perpetuate the hardship?So this is complicated I was interested in Finn's story in the way that runners are forever interested in the minutiae of running A non runner would probably die of boredom or not pick this book up in the first place It is what it says on the tin But over the course of the whole book I started to feel like the book's point of view was so narrow its focus so unrelentingly on Finn and his situation his training his family his experiences even his car and meals and muscle twinges that it read like a diary than anything else I just finished reading The Blue Sweater which is Jacueline Novogratz's story of struggling to establish microfinance operations in developing countries I think Novogratz is kind of a standout case but her take on people living in poverty is just so different from Finn's Finn in describing the home of a house proud Kenyan runner points out the shabbiness and odd placement of the furniture He's too experienced a journalist to pass comment but this is what he sees and what he chooses to report Novogratz never once describes the people she works with in any way that undermines them or points out the gap between their material ambitions and the things we take for granted in the West Over and over she comments on people's appearances clothes personal mannerisms and everything she says feels sincerely appreciative She's not a Pollyanna she reports being robbed and in one horrible incident almost abducted but she seems simply to have a talent for seeing people in their own terms instead of applying her own I don't get the impression Finn shares that talent And since he's imposed himself on these people's lives for his own sake and for relatively trivial reasons it all feels just a bit icky to meIt's especially strange that after the final marathon race at Lewa the event the whole book builds up to the focus closes in on Finn's own difficult race experience and pretty much forgoes everything else There's no philosophizing about the Kenyan secret to running which is a pretty thin thread in the book to start with It's just a journal of Finn's marathon Followed by a startlingly abrupt ending in which his Kenyan running partners all leave in a van and he muses that he may never see any of them againOh there's an epilogue It's Finn triumphantly setting a PR at the NYC marathon So I guess we know what the book was really about after all I'm not uite sure what to make of this It says it's the running secrets of the fastest people on earth It says it's the memoir of someone who wanted to see how good a runner he could be It's a travelogue of Kenya Well it's sort of all of those but not really any of them For starters there are no secrets revealed It's all pretty obvious Kenyans are fast because they run a lot as children miles day in day out as part of their lives They live and run at altitude They eat a lot of carbs eat a low fat diet and rest a lot They are often barefoot so they evolve a natural running style that is fluid and less injury prone than us western plodders Well yeah but I don't call these secrets More like common sense that is well known to even the average runner As for the memoir of an above average recreational runner who wanted to see how good he could be yes it is this but while Finn improved of course he did on the surface it seems to be the improvement that anyone would get if they ran ate better and ran at altitude with faster peopleThe travelogue part was interesting but I was somewhat put off by the Great White Man approach To be fair I think this was unintentional but it imparted an us and them feel to the book and to Finn's experiences in Kenya What I did enjoy were the descriptions of some of his runs The pitter patter of feet running together Harsh breath Being out there running fluidly The joy of it all These passages were wonderful and elevated the book to three stars for me As a runner on hiatus I can read and enjoy passages about running about training about forefoot strikes and running shoes Non runners will probably find their eyes glazing overOverall while there was uite a bit to enjoy I felt it suffered from a lack of purpose and direction It tried to be too many things personal sports story travelogue factual book memoir and as a result it never really succeeded in any of them I finished this in a day like literally This book is just amazing The author brought me into his journey to Kenya where he lived there for six months to learn and train with Kenyan runners and to find out what are the secrets to be the best runner in the world The writing flows easily the plot seamless the stories affective Non too melancholic I did shed a tear or two reading the last chapter highlighting his running goal; the Lewa Marathon I urge runners to read this I mean even I who don't do marathons are affected by the story so you can imagine if a runner reads this They'll be even pumped up It's the most tantalizing title since Born to Run and along the same lines a Westerner intent on learning the secrets of a culture truly born to run goes and lives among this foreign people temporarily partly to see if some of their secret sauce can help his own running but partly just to see well what it's like and what that secret is Along the way he meets some true characters subjects himself and his family in Finn's case family includes three small children to culture shockand brings the whole thing to a satisfying climax in the form of a big race this one with lionsSince this is a review I'll cut to the chase those of you who think there's one key element to explain the Kenyans' dominance of distance running will be disappointed But Finn does a fantastic job identifying the combination of factors that have made them so unbeatable for so many years He touches on all of these factors in detail throughout the narrative and near the end of the book he summarizesFor six months I've been piecing together the puzzle of why Kenyans are such good runners In the end there was no elixir no running gene no training secret that you could neatly package up and present with flashing lights and fireworks Nothing that Nike could replicate and market as the latest running fad No it was too complex yet too simple for that It was everything and nothing I list the secrets in my head the tough active childhood the barefoot running the altitude the diet the role models the simple approach to training the running camps the focus and dedication the desire to succeed to change their lives the expectation that they can win the mental toughness the lack of alternatives the abundance of trails to train on the time spent resting the running to school the all pervasive running culture the reverence for runningA few paragraphs later he writesI've immersed myself in the world of Kenyan runners living and training with them sharing their commitment and following their almost monastic lifestyles in the hope that some of their magic would rub off on me Hopefully it has but in truth at thirty seven after years of living an easy Western lifestyle and without anything driving me other than the joy of running and the desire to use my talent I never stood a chanceIt's a humbling messageAs always though actions speak louder than words There's a lot of hope here too for those willing to adopt some Kenyan style in their training In the wake of his experience Finn finishes as the first Westerner in the hot and dusty Lewa Marathon his first in three hours and 20 minutes After his return to the West he takes three minutes off his pre Kenya half marathon personal best And four months after that Kenyan marathon debut he runs the New York Marathon in two hours 55 minutes exactlyThe book wasn't as funny or smoothly written as Born to Run a book I loved and recommend to everyone But it felt true to me in its shades of grey characterization of these extraordinary runners and the reasons for their success I liked his unpretentious descriptions of what it was really like to run behind a group of Kenyans and I was particularly impressed with his blunt critiue of his own commitment to his beloved sport after a disappointing half marathon part way through his African sojournSince finishing this book tonight I've found myself Googling ugaliand I think I might take a walk up my street Barefoot I must confess the reason I loved reading this book is not that I'm a runner a former runner a fan of running although the sport has been of interest for many years And not because Finn has written an enjoyable interesting self effacing journey of discovery tale filled with uniue observations and fascinating facts; a good read to be sure No the main reason I loved this book is its portrayal and descriptions of Iten the town on the Rift Valley Escarpment that is the main setting and a locus for serious long distance runners from around the world You see I lived very near Iten when it was just a sleepy district center before becoming the marathoner's meccaHow wonderful to read the town has grown with a number of training camps the Kerio View Hotel just in the planning stages back in my day and yet remains recognizable despite all the growth It seems the old Kapteren Show Grounds where I first met my wife has become a village center of its own going by the name KapshowEven the venerable Brother Colm O'Connell is there still coaching and mentoring young runners at the legendary St Patrick's Boarding School Just as he was all those years ago when I had the honor of meeting him and sharing a meal with him The track and field team from the school where I taught Kipsoen Harambee School would compete at St Patrick'sSo a reminiscence for me but still a recommended book for runners those who enjoy a real life adventure and a grassroots glimpse into another culture If you're looking here for the secret of the Kenyan runner you may be disappointed But if you are interested to see how some Kenyans who are runners live in a small community while training for the big win then you may enjoy this book Much like a voyeur the reader is given a glimpse into life in Kenya for a runner while the author trains amongst them and attempts to tap into their secret for winning race after race after race I presume it's a good gig for an author if you can get it so kudos to Finn Finn and his wife and two children move to Kenya so he can train for a marathon What will he learn about running and about Kenyan running culture? How fast will he get? This makes for a fun combination of a travel book and a running book I would have liked it though if Finn had been a serious runner and didn't play stupid uite so much For example coming into it he claims to think that all Kenyan runners run barefoot all the time which he would have seen was false from any photograph or any of the hundreds of running magazine articles on Kenyan runners He's a runner but he only runs every few days taking off weeks or months at a time When he moves to Kenya he's only running up to 3 miles at a time Maybe this was deliberate sandbagging so his improvement in Kenya would be dramatic? But no he keeps this schedule up even after moving his whole family to Kenya He also deliberately runs stupidly possibly so the book has drama? He refuses to wear a watch for example in training or races unlike everyone else and makes any number of other dumb mistakes Since there's no new information in this book and what there is is of uestionable accuracy these details make the project annoying to any serious runner One woman tells me as we sit on the grass that she thinks running is like getting drunk in reverse With drinking it feels great at first but then you start feeling awful With running you feel awful at first but then after you finish you feel great After the race in Eldoret I decide I need to ratchet up my training I'm still in my old mindset training every other day treating running as a side activity I'm going running I say Why? she asks It's a good uestion but right now just before a run is not the best moment to try to answer it Right before you head out running it can be hard to remember exactly why you're doing it You often have to override a nagging sense of futility lacing up your shoes telling yourself that no matter how unlikely it seems right now after you finish you will be glad you went It's only afterward that it makes sense although even then it's hard to rationalize why You just feel right After a run you feel at one with the world as though some unspecified innate need has been fulfilled I must be the only runner here without a watch Before I came to Kenya I had naively imagined everyone racing along without a thought for anything as controlling and analytical as a stopwatch in the West we're stuck on a conveyor belt going the wrong way In 1975 for example thirty four marathons were run in under 2 hours 20 minutes by American runners twenty three by British runners and none by Kenyan runners By 2005 however there were 22 sub 220 marathon performances by Americans 12 by Britons and a staggering 490 by Kenyans Thirty eight kilometers We leave at five in the morning Yeah sure Sounds good Sounds terrifying is what I mean That's almost twenty four miles I've never run than thirteen miles before The cook passes a tray with a mound of ugali on it through the window from the adjoining kitchen then a pot of sukuma wiki which is basically stewed kale A daily diet of run eat sleep run In Iten alone there are around one thousand full time athletes living like this—in a town with a population of just four thousand people Wikipedia says the population is over 42000 At three miles I begin to wonder how fast I'm running I made a late decision not to wear a watch Anders thought I was mad but I've done every training run without one and the Kenyan runners at the Kimbia camp didn't think it was a problem Just run how you feel they said The long straight lines cutting across the parched landscape seem to stretch on farther than before The gentle wind and the soft pat pat pat of my feet are the only sounds I swing a few glances behind me but there is no one as far as I can see Just the long path already traveled empty as though I'm the last runner on earth I have an energy gel in my back pocket I had planned to take it at eighteen miles but now at fifteen miles it's all I can think about As I round the last corner the beautiful arched finish rises up to meet me The clock ticks on to 3 hours 20 minutes And then I'm there I've done it A very enjoyable story in the life of If you are looking for an in depth training analysis on how the kenyan's train then this book is not for you The book follows the story of a runner that moved to kenya to improve his marathon time and by doing so go's through a lot of up's and down's like all us runners so often do The story was very enjoyable and would recommend for any other runner out there A fun and interesting look at the Kenyans from an outsider’s perspective If you are looking for an easy read about the subject this is a good starting place for you However if you are looking for any details training secrets etc you may be disappointed It's no Born to Run but it was still uite good This is a nonfiction book about why Kenyans are beating the pants off the rest of us in basically all running events be they short sprint distance races or marathons It's part travelogue and part running book which is key I think; even as a runner myself I think books purely about just running and nothing else are kind of boring so including the aspects about life in Kenya and travel through Kenya make this a much better book SPOILER So does he answer the uestion? No but that's because there is no definitive answer there are a number of factors contributing to the Kenyans' mind boggling running success Barefoot running training camps where the athletes JUST train and rest they don't have other jobs the tendency for kids to run back and forth to school they need to go home for lunch and there are no school buses Plus homes are spread apart and the school is never close to where you live a hardscrabble life which just forces you to be active in general the altitude and probably some other factors I'm forgetting all contribute However these factors are common in many other African nations so why does Kenya in particular stand out? That probably has to do with the fact that excellence tends to build on itself and it has a snowballing effect the success and the great runners there are from Kenya the the Kenyan running culture grows role models etcI would have liked to see the author at least come to some conclusions though even though there really is no definitive answer It would have been nice I think for him to include a final conclusion statement where he tells us what he really thinks the secret is even if the secret is that there is no secret He certainly does that throughout the book but I thought it would have been better addressed at the end

Running with the Kenyans ePUB õ Running with  MOBI
  • Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • Running with the Kenyans
  • Adharanand Finn
  • 16 April 2016
  • 9780345528803