Running Quotes from, “Running with the Kenyans”.

I have just finished reading the book, “Running with the Kenyans” by Adharanand Finn. This book will go down as one of my favourite reads. Here are a few quotes from it. Hope it inspires you to go out and buy the book.

On Running.

“Right before you head out running, it can be hard to remember exactly why you’re doing it. You often have to override a nagging sense of futility, lacing up your shoes, telling yourself that no matter how unlikely it seems right now, after you finish you will be glad you went. It’s only afterward that it makes sense, although even then it’s hard to rationalize why. You just feel right. After a run, you feel at one with the world, as though some unspecified, innate need has been fulfilled.”

“Running is a brutal and emotional sport. It’s also a simple, primal sport. As humans, on a most basic level, we get hungry, we sleep, we yearn for love, we run.”

“Perhaps it is to fulfil this primal urge that runners and joggers get up every morning and pound the streets in cities all over the world. To feel the stirring of something primeval deep down in the pits of our bellies. To feel “a little bit wild.” Running is not exactly fun. Running hurts. It takes effort. Ask any runner why he runs, and he will probably look at you with a wry smile and say, “I don’t know.” But something keeps us going. We may obsess about our PBs and mileage count, but these things alone are not enough to get us out running… What really drives us is something else, this need to feel human, to reach below the multitude of layers of roles and responsibilities that society  has placed on us, down below the company name tags, and even the father, husband, and son, labels, to the pure, raw human being underneath. At such moments, our rational mind becomes redundant. We move from thought to feeling.”

“If we push on, we begin to feel a vague, tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. It’s a powerful feeling, strong enough to have us coming back for more, again and again.”

“The actor Sean Connery was once asked in an interview what, if anything made him cry. After thinking for a few moments, he replied, ‘Athletics’.”

On Shoes.

“‘You need more cushioning on your shoes, because of all the stones,’ the physio tells me. So I’ve come full circle. To run like a Kenyan, it seems, I need to go back to where I started, and get myself a big, padded pair of trainers. “

On Diet.

“They don’t require much, living frugal lives, with no electricity or running water, and eating a simple diet of rice, beans and ugali.”

“Our diets, too, are getting worse. While Kenyans have their carbohydrate rich ugali, we’re eating more salt and more fatty foods than ever before. Obesity and diabetes are rising. According to the World health Organisation, the obesity rates in the UK and the US have risen at least three-fold since 1980.”

In the Rift Valley, everyone grows up eating a diet full of carbohydrates, with very little fat. Beans, rice, ugali and green vegetables are the staples. Occasionally the runners will eat meat or drink milk. It is very hard, in Iten at least to find cakes, ice cream, cheese, burgers, pizzas – all those fatty things we love to eat in the West.

On Western Society.

Despite all the advances in training technology, nutrition, physiotherapy, the increase in the quality and quantity of races, the introduction of prize money, in the West we’re stuck on a conveyor belt going the wrong way. In 1975, for example, 23 marathons were run in times under 2 hours 20 minutes by British runners. By 2005, however, there were 12 sub 2:20 marathon performances by Britons, 22 by Americans, and a staggering 490 by Kenyans.  (Talking about British running)

“A recent study by the University of Essex found that even in the last ten years, the average English ten year old has become weaker, less muscular and less able to do simple tasks. They’re not talking about running three miles to school twice a day, but the most basic activities such as hanging from wall bars in the gym.”

Hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.


Mike Roscoe
Mike Roscoe

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