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Training Diary of a Ugandan Elite Runner

A week in the life of an elite athlete in Kapchorwa, 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 multiple world 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.

Typical Training Programme of a Ugandan Elite Runner

Each week tends to stick to a similar structure with the same workouts on each day. 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 some camps in Kapchorwa, e.g. the NN Running group including Joshua Cheptegei, have their own training program. I covered their approach to training in a previous post when I interviewed NN Running Team coach Addy Ruiter.

Monday - 'School Monday'

AM: 18 - 22km moderate pace (note: I believe this session is supposed to be a tempo effort 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

The Tuesday fartlek session on an undulating dirt road outside of Kapchorwa Town

Wednesday - Easy Run

AM: 17-19km easy

PM: 30-40 mins easy

Thursday - Long Run

AM: 25-35km long run

Friday - Easy Run

AM: 15-17km easy

PM: 30-40 mins easy

Saturday - Speed Session (Track)

AM: 15km Intervals - Grass Track (example workouts: 25*400m, 16*800m, 12*1000m, 6*2000m) 

PM: 30-40 mins easy

A busy Saturday morning on the grass track...

Sunday - Rest Day

Rest & Recovery

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.

Diet of a Ugandan 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 tea (with plentiful sugar) 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

Further reading from Kapchorwa: 

The women's group working hard during a fartlek session down on the plains in Cheptui

Interested in running in Uganda's Land of Champions? Run Kapchorwa is the first stop for all things running and outdoor adventure in Kapchorwa.

One last thing...

COVID-19 has resulted in a severely reduced income for freelancers like me. If you've enjoyed the content on this site and would like to support me by buying me a coffee, I would really appreciate it.

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