Zackary Kihara

Zak Kihara

Is a Kenyan athlete who splits his time between Kenya and Britain. When he is in Britain he races proudly for Birchfield Harriers and stays in North Berwick or Coventry training with other quality runners. He was born in 1978, is married with 2 children and is coached by Ian Ladbrooke. Zachary runs distances between 3k Steeplechase and his now preferred distance of the Marathon running very good times for all distances.


Personal Bests:-

3km Steeplechase 8minutes 22seconds - 2002
5km 13minutes 42seonds (Altitude) - 2003
10km (Road) 28minutes 54seconds - 2008
21km (Half Marathon) 63minutes 43seconds - 2008
42km (Marathon) 2hours 15minutes - 2005


(interview via Ian Ladbrooke)

Easy runs?
Only really on the day after a race, then it can be very slow even jogging with coach.

Steady runs?
Steady runs will be at 6 minute mileing or a little bit faster, most morning runs will be at steady pace and some evening runs after sessions. Zak wont will never run for less than 40 minutes, thinks its not worth the effort for less, "if your going to train then do it, if not sleep more and do more the next day".

Long runs?
Zak will play with the pace depending on terrain and focus, sometimes a 2 1-2 hour hilly run in Kenya will be at 4 min/km. Other times a 3hour flat run covering 45km, but midweek longer runs will maybe be a bit faster building up the pace every 20minutes.

Speedwork / Interval Sessions?
When in competition season Zak will have 2 sessions every week, where as in marathon preparation it will be 3 times a week. Interval sessions are always done in a group, usually from different managers and coaches but all looking for similar results.

What would be a typical session in Marathon build up?

A Typical session in marathon build up would be:-

10 x 2km in sub 6 min / 90 sec's jog

70 minutes of hill work, stride up (200m) and cruise down with 30 seconds rest at the bottom, also Zak will do 25minutes warm up and 25minutes warm down so it can be a good 2 hour session.

Not so bothered about counting the mileage, it's more important to get the right ingredients into the week. Zak will always check his resting pulse in morning, if its 10 beats up ill not do the morning run.

But if your after rough figures Zak will Probably touch around 120 miles per week in marathon preparation phase but its more important to have a good positive feel about what's being done rather than trying to do a few extra miles at end of week to say ..."that's another 100+ Week".

Its fair to say that most Kenyans do not count miles or kilometers. They never worry about it, in marathon preparation the long run, midweek 'longish' run and interval sessions are the keys.

Typical Week?
2 weeks training before Coventry Half Marathon. (Bearing in mind that this is in build up to a marathon)

Monday - 60 mins Steady - pm 50 mins on grass with strides and stretching
Tuesday - 45 mins - late morning Interval work 10 x 4 mins / 75 secs rec
Wednesday- 2 hrs Steady - pm Rest + Massage
Thursday - 60 mins Steady - pm Interval 18 x 60 sec / 30 sec rec
Friday - 50mins Steady - pm 50mins Steady
Saturday - Time Trial of 3 laps around memorial park
Sunday - 2 hr 40min, first half with Joyce Kandie then pushing up pace on return
Monday - 60mins Steady - pm 50mins Steady
Tuesday - 45 mins - pm Interval 6 x 2km with 2 min jog rec. Massage
Wednesday - 100 mins reasonably easy
Thursday - 50mins Steady - pm 50mins Steady
Friday - 40 mins easy followed by 12 x 1 min fast 1 min easy + Massage
Saturday - REST AND EAT!
Sunday - Cov Half -- 3rd, 63-41 p.b hilly course. "Tried to stay with Teddy and Chebon , kept losing touch and getting back on , at 8 miles they dropped me , think they were fearing my finish !! Still, I passed 10miles in a p.b sub 48 and happy with run".

In marathon preperation he will drop the mileage in the last 2 weeks, eg from 120miles to 80miles and then down to just 40miles on race week with then marathon at end of that week (40 doesn't include marathon day). For shorter races Zak will only a small ease or taper will be used as normally its part of a longer term plan and you cannot spend all of your time easing up, otherwise you would never get a good bank of training that is needed for your 'goal' race.

After a Marathon Zak will have a few days off and then 2 weeks 'easy-ish' running, then when he feels like it and is ready to train we will start the next plan. Zak will never have a long time off and since we changed his training regime 18 months ago and added more massage there have been no injury's (touch wood!).

2/3 times a week especially in marathon preperation, its vital to avoiding injuries.

Weights / Ciruits?
At least an hour a day of stretching and mini circuits that focus on core strength ....not in a gym ...there arent many in Nyahururu (where Zak trains in Kenya) or even North Berwick, mainly using own body strength. "I Never do any weights as I always put on muscle very easily , I'm not a very skinny Kenyan!"

Feelings on cross country?
"I like cross country, and might do a couple in UK this winter".

Thoughts on the British runners?
"I have trained with some British runners and they have a lot of talent but I'm not always sure that they get the support that they need to gain confidence to compete, when we have done track and fartlek sessions in Leamington and other places I have not always been at the front, but in races I can normally beat the same guys!!".

Does he drink a lot of tea like most Kenyans?
He likes Tea but not with loads of sugar like most of the Kenyans, he uses Lucozade sport before during and after long sessions though... like John Mutai, Zak has a mix of Kenyan and UK training habits!


Ian Ladbrooke / Zachary Kihara


Zak Kihara