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Hannah England on her recent High Altitude Camp in Kenya

Hannah England has chosen to spend time at Kenya’s High Altitude Training Camp in the Rift Valley. Her temporary home has plenty of sunshine and miles of great running trails but some of the amenities are a bit more basic than home. 

Hannah running in the Rift Valley

The benefits of high altitude training have been well documented. But altitude training here in Kenya is not always easy. "At the start it feels like you're on a fun school trip, then you realise you've got to do the same thing again and again." says Hannah. 

"I'm a non-responder to altitude. I don't make a lot of red blood cells like other people so I find it really hard when I'm in Kenya” says Hannah. "Mentally, continually doing things that your mind says is not possible builds resilience. Being a middle-distance runner is about being tough. Going to an extreme environment can benefit me for the rest of the year." 

One in every four of Iten’s inhabitants is a full time runner. This is where Wilson Kikpsang, Geoffery Mutai and Rudisha came from. Paula Radcliffe once described this environment as inspirational and Mo Farrah came here to train during his rise to winning Olympic and World medals. 

Hannah explains the support of her family is very important to her.  "Emotionally, I do struggle a lot when I have to go without seeing my husband for a month. Usually there's internet three times a month. I try to Skype my parents but, luckily, I have understanding friends and family." 

The meals are made using all home grown organic produce and lovingly prepared by the on-site chefs. But Hannah admits "it can be a bit bland. There's very little fat in the diet and you find yourself craving salt. When it comes to pizza night I'm hallucinating over the cheese." 

Away from the training there are no 5* star hotels on this camp. There is solar powered hot water (which turns lukewarm rather too quickly), the electricity cuts out and your training kit gets washed in sinks or buckets. Hannah is sharing with a roommate in a room that has just enough space for 2 beds and a desk.  

"Quite a lot of the boys on our last trip took games consoles with them, but some get bored - you see cabin fever setting in," says England.  The life of an international athlete may seem glamorous, standing on the medal podium, but the day to day training to get you there takes a strong character and real determination.


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