More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way

Somewhere in the altitude of the Kenyan hills there is girl running on a rutted red dirt road. She’s not wearing a GPS watch. She’s running in borrowed hand-me-down shoes. Her training goal is simply to keep up with her friends each day. If she can do that, she might just win the New York City Marathon in 2018. And why not? Somebody will.

Kenyan Runners

The Kenyans dominate middle distance and distance running. In 2011, 100 percent of the top 25 men’s times at the marathon distance were run by Kenyan athletes. Currently, Kenyan women hold the top four spots in the World Marathon Majors.

So, what is the Kenyan secret? Is it genetics, altitude, attitude, training, or something else? What are the Kenyans doing to prepare their runners that other countries aren’t doing? What can regular runners like you and me learn from the Kenyan elites?

Toby Tanser takes a look at the Kenyan program from the inside and shares interviews, stories, and observations about the lives of the runners and people of Kenya. His firsthand accounts paint a vivid picture of life in the training camps and life in village. Tanser is clearly well versed in the Kenyan culture and his matter of fact prose is both informative and easy to read.

In More Fire, Tanser describes the training plans, daily nutrition, and coaching philosophy of the Kenyan running camps. He provides in-depth biographies on the elite runners including their personal training plans, and an exhaustive history of Kenyan running that dates back to the early 1950’s.

One cannot read this book without admiring the toughness of the Kenyan runners. The staggering workouts they run, their unwavering commitment to be the best, and the fire with which they compete is astounding. If all else is equal, the runner with “more fire” will always win.

Thoughts?