I am currently doing my Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Brunel University. I studied here for my undergraduate degree so this is my fourth year training and studying at Brunel. However, this first term has been a little different, in terms of training and university, to my previous years, as from 29th October until the 27th November I was living and training in Iten, Kenya.

After being selected for the British Athletics and London Marathon High Altitude Camp, I spoke to my lecturers at Brunel explaining I would be away for 4 weeks and they were all very understanding and supportive. Luckily I had made the decision to do my Masters part-time across 2 years to give myself more time for training and studying. Whilst in Kenya, I kept up to date with my lecture notes and reading as well as submitting my assignments, which was rather challenging at times with the Wi-Fi sometimes just disappearing.
Having never been to Kenya before, or trained somewhere at such a high altitude, I was so excited to come out and see what all the fuss was about and experience altitude and I really enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough initially - the first run I did out there it was just hill after hill and my heart rate kept rising but I seemed to adjust pretty quickly and within a few days I was on the track doing a session. It was a great experience for me to train with a group of girls similar to me, always having people to do runs, sessions, gym and core with. My days and weeks were very similar just purely focusing on training as there were no distractions in Kenya. A typical day would involve one or two runs and a track session, followed by work in the gym and in between my time would be filled with napping and recovering, eating or doing my uni work. A very simple lifestyle.
It was a great opportunity to train in the same place as so many great runners have done before, such as David Rudisha, the 2012 800m Olympic Champion. Whilst I was on a warm down from the most brutal hill session I have ever done, Rudisha casually ran past us on an easy run.
A week after returning from Kenya I had a repeat of tests in lab that I had done before headed out - this involved VO2max test and Hbmass test as well as body composition. My VO2max test should great improvement that I was able to complete an extra stage as well as my heart rate and lactate levels being significantly lower. I decided to put this to the test in the real world and ran a 5km parkrun where I ran a PB of 16.44. I have since lowest this again to 16.37.
My next focus is the Indoor season which begins with a university Inter-Varsity match on the 5th February. I have been extremely fortunate to be selected to for another high altitude training camp in Kenya once again on the 2nd January until 31st January which I feel will really benefit my indoor season.
Melissa Courtney