Addis was highly recommended to me by two separate friends, plus it coincided with an Ethiopian Airlines plane change (to a friend’s wedding in Malawi). It is also much more accessible than, say, Iten in Kenya or anywhere in Uganda. So, coming here made perfect sense.
I was worried that the training might feel very elite and challenging, and that I’d struggle with the altitude and keeping up, but I fitted right into it. Having a group to try and stick with has taken me out of my comfort zone but it’s been reassuring and motivating to know that I could keep up and be an active part of the sessions with them. Best of all is their willingness to welcome you to join them. My assumptions from seeing interviews was that Ethiopian athletes are very shy and quiet, but in fact they are really outgoing and welcoming.
I’ve found that in Ethiopia the act of running itself is more important than strict attachment to a training plan. Nobody really seems to start or stop their watch here, and split times seem irrelevant compared to back home. You don’t worry too much about pace or distance when you’re running on such varied terrain – skipping over rocks, charging along forest paths and across meadows.
The food has also been really varied and interesting. I’ve enjoyed fresh injera, lovely Ethiopian porridge and amazing hotbreads cooked by Qonjit!