Unlocking the Secrets to Kenyan Running Dominance, with author Sarah Gearhart

East African runners have continued to dominate both middle and longer distance running, but their training methods often seem to be shrouded in mystery. An intimate look into the culture created by one of the world’s greatest coaches helps us understand what it takes to become the best.

Whether your running goal is to complete your first 5k or earn an Olympic medal, success and improvement comes from a long term commitment to the sport. The greater your goal, the greater the commitment, and often this requires an effort that goes above and beyond the running itself.

It’s easy to attribute running success to specific workouts and training techniques. Mental training, strength workouts, and nutrition can also contribute to improvement, but when you have a community of like-minded athletes working together – like a college team or an elite training group – something special seems to happen that can take training to the next level.

As training information becomes widespread and many training methods become ubiquitous among the world’s elite, there are certain qualities that seem to allow some athletes to stand out above the rest. When it comes to distance running, many of those standouts are Kenyan, and an enormously successful group has found their way to the top under coach Patrick Sang.

Sarah Gearhart on Kenyan running culture & Coach Patrick Sang

On the podcast this week I have Sarah Gearhart, a writer and 14-time marathoner. She’s a sports journalist whose work has appeared pretty much everywhere, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN, Runner’s World, and many others. Sarah is the author of the new book, We Share the Sun: The Incredible Journey of Kenya’s Legendary Running Coach Patrick Sang and the Fastest Runners on Earth.

Patrick Sang is the coach of Eliud Kipchoge, widely regarded as the world’s best marathoner. But the culture he has created at his Kaptagat training camp focuses on treating all runners – Kipchoge included – as a whole person. Sarah’s time at the camp allowed her a unique insight into this community that few of us know or understand, but sets an example that all runners can learn from.

Sarah and I touch on a number of topics surrounding her new book We Share the Sun, including:

  • What drew her to write about Patrick Sang and the athletes he coaches
  • Why Patrick Sang is often described as a life coach and not just a running coach
  • How the culture Sang created for his athletes contributes to their success
  • The immersive experience of Sang’s runners and how it adds to their dominance
  • How Kipchoge came to be coached by Sang
  • Why Sarah’s perspective on running has evolved since her time in Kenya

Sarah Gearhart’s book We Share the Sun is beautifully written and a must read for anyone who loves the sport. Enjoy our conversation!

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