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Training Diary of a Ugandan Elite Runner

A week in the life of an elite athlete in Kapchorwa, Uganda

· kapchorwa,elite runners,uganda,training programme,running in uganda

Kapchorwa is the heartland of running in Uganda. A small farming town in Eastern Uganda that sits on the flanks of Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano straddling the border of Uganda and Kenya.

Known as the 'Land of Champions', the region is home to the majority of Uganda's elite endurance athletes. These include current world 10km and cross country champion and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei, London 2012 Olympic Marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich and teenage sensation Jacob Kiplimo.

Hundreds of runners live and train on the steep hills that climb away from Kapchorwa and up to 2600m altitude.

A Typical Training Week in Kapchorwa

Each week tends to stick to a similar structure with the same workouts on each day. All of the runners from the assorted camps and teams in Kapchorwa meet as one* then split into their training groups based on event specialism and level. Each athlete's session/weekly volume will depend on their specialism.

Morning sessions take place at first light (around 6.30-7am) and before breakfast. Runners will run both in the morning and evening apart from on long run & rest days. A few athletes opt not to join the easy evening outings but they are very much in the minority. Pretty much all training is done in groups and there is little solo running. There is a deep sense of community and togetherness within the running fraternity here.

* Worth mentioning that the NN Running group in Kapchorwa, including Joshua Cheptegei, have their own training program. I covered this in a previous post when I interviewed NN Running Team coach Addy Ruiter.

Monday - 'School Monday'

AM: 18 - 22km moderate pace (note: this session is supposed to be a tempo but often ends up as an ego fest as young pretenders try to push the pace and catch the eye - not all the athletes manage to maintain their discipline in the face of this 'challenge')
PM: 30 mins easy - depends on the athlete but these afternoon runs are super-easy, normally around 9-9.30 minute mile pace

Tuesday - Fartlek

AM: 40-60 mins group East African style fartlek (1 min hard effort with 1 min rest, 2/1 or 3/1)
PM: 30-40 mins easy

Wednesday - Easy

AM: 17-19km easy

PM: 30-40 mins easy

Thursday - Long Run

AM: 25-35km long run

Friday - Easy
AM: 15-17km easy
PM: 30-40 mins easy

Saturday - Track
AM: 15km Intervals - Grass Track (example workouts: 25*400m, 16*800m, 12*1000m, 6*2000m) 
PM: 30-40 mins easy



Weekly Volume: ~110-160km depending on athlete's event specialism.

Middle distance athletes will be toward the lower end whereas the endurance group will be nearer the upper number.

The start of the Tuesday fartlek session which takes place on an undulating dirt road around ten minutes run down from Kapchorwa Town

Diet of an Elite Runner in Kapchorwa

The Kapchorwa runners diet consists of typical local dishes that are all made from produce farmed in the region. The diet is predominately plant based aside from the much loved milk (with plentiful sugar) tea and occasional meat at the weekend. A light breakfast is always taken after the morning training session with more substantial, carb heavy meals at lunchtime and in the evening before an early night - normally before 9pm.


Groundnuts (peanut family), chapati, bananas, coffee/milk tea


Posho (a solid porridge from maize flour and water - aka ' Ugali' in Kenya), matooke (steamed green plantain), 'Irish' (boiled potatoes) fried off with tomatoes & onion, sweet potato, beans, greens


Posho, matooke, 'Irish', sweet potato, beans, cabbage, cowpeas (blackeye pea - high protein legume), greens, occasionally local meat (beef/chicken/goat)

Running with Kiprotich: 2012 London Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich leads a group of Ugandan runners during  a track session in Kapchorwa, Uganda

2012 London Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich leads the endurance group through a 1km repetition during a Saturday grass track workout

Run Kapchorwa is currently holding a competition to win a running weekend in Kapchorwa. Connect on Instagram and Facebook for a chance to run in the Land of Champions!

If you've enjoyed any of my ramblings, it would be lovely if you'd consider buying me a coffee

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