Nairobi — Well, athletics is in the air and so should we.
That is if we have much energy left after the recent activities at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. One could be forgiven for just wondering what is left in our athletes to dazzle the world with in the forthcoming international programmes.
We take pride in the fact that when it comes to marathons, we are beyond compare. To this add the 10,000m which is, collectively, Kenya's own.
So what could be the problem? Our sheer lack of focus. I think Athletics Kenya and its list of agents handling Kenyan athletes need to study Kenya's track running history in order to see why it is becoming increasingly difficult for Kenyan athletes to translate their collective dominance into actual national excellence.
At the World Championships and Olympic Games, Kenyans now find themselves struggling to hold on to their reputation.
It is easy to think this has been caused by our lack of a scientific approach to training. It is also possible to assume that unless we go in the way of science, there will be no hope. But let's not also forget that similar thinking led to a quasi-medical sporting culture in the former European East and now the United States that created a dubious maxim - no hope without dope.
What should be of more significance for Kenyans, I believe, is to work out a ratio of performance at high and low attitude. Athletes at these two distinct levels generally score negatively when competing outside their zones.
In programmes in athletic training, hands on experience literally does mean hands on. We all ought to learn how to advise athletes in order to avoid injury, and how to assess and treat sports-related injuries when they do happen long before qualified coaches and trainers show up.
We know in the trainers tools of trade exist medicine boxes that include therapeutic exercises, whirlpool baths, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. This is the modern bit we should not ignore.
However, in the old days, Kenyans used to get round this by running a closely monitored training and coaching programme that was spartan in its facilities and approach but highly effective. This was the method that generated so many athletes within our Armed Forces.
But in the face of growing affluence by our athletes and changes in how the sport is being administered, this thinking has been discarded in favour of a less hands-on approach.
Surprisingly the country that seems to have benefited most from Kenya's old-style approach is Ethiopia which runs a very closely monitored camp, as spartan as that word could mean. So are Kenyans paying the price for progress?
Likewise for as long as AK continues to base marathon team selections on timings recorded by Kenyan runners at various major city races, Kenya will continue to under-perform at the World Championships and Olympic levels for obvious reasons.
Marathons have varying degrees of difficulty and altitude. Based on this, a relatively slow timer at sea-level may be disregarded for selection because someone else has run a fantastic time at altitude.
Coaches need to be aware who runs best at the sort of courses World Championship and Olympic Games organisers opt for, in order to adequately raise the runners with the best potential to succeed on those specific type of courses.
And this should be irrespective of the sort of times recorded in that season, if the best ones were clocked at races of different dimension.
The same should apply for the 10,000m runners.
This particular season has been very punishing for Kenyans.
They have had to deal with the Armed Forces, the Police, Prisons, national championships and trials. One just has to wonder how many of those who truly excelled at these events have enough left to replicate those timings at the World Championships. A truly good time, for most athletes, could only come once a season.
It would be a pity if such great performances were reserved for just the Kenyan trials in order for the athletes to just make the team. That's the downside for being such a successful athletics nation.
A way forward for AK would be to seriously embark on a course of training that takes into account altitude in order to build a pool of athletes most adaptive to such changes.
This would minimise on acclimatisation time periods and also help discover more talent in Kenya's vast terrain.
Kenya's success at the 1968 Olympic Games was a result of having great runners selected by good selectors, running at a comfortable altitude in Mexico City.
Those who doubt this should ask Kipchoge Keino, Kenya's hero at those games. A pet subject would be what happened to his perennial rival Ron Clarke of Australia.
So as we head forward, let us not forsake what has worked for Kenya in the past just for the sake of trying to seem hip.