Working and Training in Nigeria

Ready or not I'll be running around the city within a week's time.  I can't say that I'm completely ready, but who ever is for a 100 mile+ run.  Our team is getting very excited as am I, and can't wait to get this thing done.  

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Last week I was in Nigeria working on a community development project, and got to run in Africa for the first time in my life, despite the fact that I've been many times.  When I first started traveling there, I wasn't a runner or wasn't training for a race, so the challenges of training while in Nigeria never hit me.

It's hard to stick to a daily training program when you spend days in airports and driving.  The security issues in the Niger-Delta region also present challenges for a runner from the USA.  I can't just go out and run on the street in a city like Aba or Lagos, and there isn't really anywhere to run anyway as the streets are filled with people and vehicles.  If I'm staying in a hotel, it's unlikely that there will be a treadmill to run on, unless it's a larger city Abuja and decent hotel.

This is what most streets are like in southern Nigerian cities, not exactly run-friendly, especially in the rainy season.

This is what most streets are like in southern Nigerian cities, not exactly run-friendly, especially in the rainy season.

My first run was in the village of Asaga Ohafia where I finally convinced my hosts that I needed to go run on the road.  They didn't really understand what I was asking to do, but we finally decided on a road run out of town.  It was kind of funny because I had a SUV full of people following me the whole way who couldn't believe that someone would run that far, even though it was only just over 8 miles. 

Needless to say, I had one of the most fun training runs that I've ever had.  I ran past villages, children, women washing clothes in the river, etc.  I'm definitely doing this again next time I come.  In fact, we have already started coming up with ideas for organizing a race, which would be a blast, and also probably a first.

All in all, I was able to get about 50 miles this week with only 1 road run.  Not exactly what my training plan called for, but good enough. The rest was treadmill and loops on a 100 meter path (good mental training.)