Justin Lagat, photo courtesy of The Kenyan Athlete
Here is a column by Justin Lagat on how he views the beginning of a new year.
My thoughts as I ran on the first day of 2016, by Justin Lagat
It is a routine for me to always start the year by doing an easy run in the morning. I usually find myself running alone, given that most runners prefer not to run on this day. This is always good for me since I usually use these runs to meditate about the year ahead; the opportunities that are there, what to do regarding my training, which training group to join, which races to target and what I need to change in my training, among others.
My run, on the 1st of January 2016, started on one of the picnic sites here in Kenya and I was surprised to meet one athlete with his girlfriend already out there enjoying their time, and sitting on top of a rock as early as 9AM in the morning. He shouted out some greetings to me and wondered why I was out running instead of celebrating the New Year, of which I answered him that I had to start the year with one activity I will hopefully be doing the rest of it.
The first thought that got to my mind on my run was on what would happen if I joined a group that has 2:03 and 2:04 marathon times and do everything they do in their training? In Kenya, as long as you can arrange your own accommodation close to any established training group, no one will prevent you from joining them in all their training workouts, unless you are involved in discipline cases that affect other athletes. During track intervals, they give out the times they need to cross the 400m, 600m, 1000m, 1200m, 1600m or 2000m points and if anyone feels they can be able to do that, they are allowed to stay in front of the group. So, joining the group and being able to lead them in one or two intervals without getting pushed or overtaken will be a good indication that you are finally in good shape to race. Eliud Kipchoge and Emmanuel Mutai’s group came into my mind as a potential group to join.
Interestingly, somewhere around Eldoret later in the day, Emmanuel Mutai’s car became the first car to enter a Car Wash just after mine. We had some time to chat as they washed his car. We talked about the possibility of one joining their training group of which he told me that there was absolutely no problem with that and that the only challenge was in finding a place to live there since there are very few houses being rented out. He also reassured me that it will be hard not to also run around 2:10 if other athletes you have been training with will be able to run around 2:04 times.
My second thought was on what, as an athlete, I should really be aiming for. Is it a faster time, or prize money?
I was talking to one of the co-founders of a Running shoe company who was in Eldoret to get more views from the elite athletes about what they really like most in a shoe last week. The company is in the process of hitting the market soon and while he dwelled on the topic of sponsoring athletes, he made some interesting remarks. To him, he is contemplating on sponsoring athletes to races that may not be offering the biggest prize money, but rather where athletes can possibly post fast times and get better chances to win.
As a number of marathon races, including the Rock N Roll races, start reducing their prize money and support for elite athletes, it is wonderful to note that many companies are coming up and are willing to sponsor athletes to go out and run in such races and even pay such athletes the equivalent of what they would have earned as prize money in other races.
So, it seems all I should be aiming for this year is to better my personal time in marathon and everything else shall follow.