Characteristics of a Kenyan runner
Kenyan Training System – from a physiological standpoint
During the last decades the East African runners, especially the Kenyans, have dominated the world of running. One question that arises is what makes these Kenyans so successful. Several factors may play a role, but the most important may be the genetic endowment in combination with intense training at moderate altitude (2000-2600 m.a.s.l.). However, this section gives only a short schematic description of their middle- and long distance training. These data are obtained from the daily training and from laboratory facilities.
Shortly, the results form our study suggests that most of the basic training carried out by the Kenyans consists of exercise close to lactate threshold (90% of VO2max). Our biopsy data support that exercise related to lactate threshold both at moderate altitude (2000-2600m.a.s.l.), and at sea level is very effective to improve the performance in already well trained elite runners and cross-country skiers, compared to controls carrying out training far under and above the lactate threshold (Evertsen et al, 1997, 2000a, 2000b, and unpublished data obtained between 1991-2000). No changes were found in the VO2max, but the performance at lactate threshold and the performance were increased significantly. These changes in physiological feature and in performance were significantly higher compared to controls. Less positive correlations were found between the biopsy data and the performance.
In summary, the physiological characteristics in Kenyan runners, running 5000m from 13:24 to 12.56 are:
(Evertsen, unpublished data, 1990-2000)
Frank Evertsen, Copyright