Altitude training in Ethiopia

I started taking part in triathlons from an early age and competed professionally on the ITU circuit for several years as part of the GB squad. During that time, I won the U23 World title, followed by multiple World cup and European cup wins.

Following a painful bike accident, I recently decided to change my focus to distance running in particular marathon. The change of focus has gone quite well so far with a 3rd place finish at The Great South Run as well as posting the fastest UK time for 5 miles in 2016 of 23’48.

To be the best you need to train with the best so I decided to spend the early part of 2017 at an altitude training camp in Ethiopia.

This being my first experience of East Africa, I had little idea of what to expect other than what I have seen on TV and heard about. I have always been fascinated by the East African distance runners and their domination on the world stage of road and track running. After setting myself the challenge of running the London Marathon in as best a time as possible, I thought it would be of great benefit to train in Ethiopia at altitude amongst some of the best marathon runners in the world.

Initial impressions of Addis Ababa were that of a chaotic city with a strong culture and incredibly welcoming people. The group I am training with do three structured training sessions a week with everybody getting on the team bus to reach the desired training location. The bus leaves at 5.30am each morning. Other than the very early starts, the thing that has struck me is the camaraderie within the group. Constant ‘iso’ calls which roughly translated means ‘stay strong’ are used when the session gets tough and everybody is full of exhausted smiled at the end of a hard 30km run.

The 2600m altitude was hard to get used to at first but after a week I felt pretty used to the effects. It will be interesting to get some blood tests done when I return to the UK to see what gains I have made.

My first competition following this camp is the Reading Half Marathon on the 19th March which serves perfectly as a build up to the London Marathon, which is my main aim for the season.

I am very excited to be an ambassador for Forth as monitoring blood profiles is the best way athletes can accurately monitor fatigue level and ultimately get the most out of your training.

Matt Sharp, ex-ITU Triathlete turned road racer

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