Interview with Haftom Welday before Valencia
We have been supporting Haftom Welday for some time now to achieve the big goal – the 2024 Olympics in Paris. He has become a real LetMeShip family member on this journey. Now an important event is just around the corner. He wants to run the Olympic standard at the marathon in Valencia to fulfil his big dream. Here he gives you some personal insights into how he is preparing for the big day.
Hello Haftom, nice of you to take some time for us today despite your busy training schedule. The Valencia Marathon is just around the corner, how does it feel?
I’m very happy to do this – your support is very, very important to me! There’s a lot at stake for me in Valencia – qualifying for the Olympics! That’s my big dream and that’s my focus. Of course, I’m feeling a bit nervous just before the race.
You flew back to Ethiopia for a training camp quite quickly after the World Championships in the summer, what does a training week look like for you?
I usually train twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. In a typical training week, I run around 180 kilometers. Long runs, interval training, tempo sessions. On the track, on the road and off-road, so it’s very varied.
Why is Ethiopia so important? Couldn’t you also train here?
Top marathon performances are not possible without altitude training. That’s why many world-class athletes train in Kenya or Ethiopia. The body has to get used to the lack of oxygen there, making oxygen production and muscle recovery more efficient – and that improves endurance. I also find extremely strong training partners here.
At our last meeting, you told us about some marathon celebrities who train with you there. Why don’t you tell us about.
I live and train here in Kenenisa Bekele’s facility. For me, Kenenisa is the greatest runner of all time. Training with him is a great honour and very motivating. I often train with my friend and teacher Tadu Abate. Maybe you’ve already seen him live – Tadu won the Hamburg Marathon in 2019.
Do you have a sporting role model?
Besides Kenenisa Bekele, I have to mention Abebe Bikila. He won the Olympic marathon in Rome in 1960, barefoot on cobblestones. Absolutely remarkable! He also won in Tokyo in 1964, this time with shoes. Abebe encouraged many Africans to run competitively. He is the pioneer of African running. Without him, this boom would probably never have happened.
You once told us about some funny events during training in Ethiopia, would you like to share a few more experiences here?
We always have a lot of fun together in the training group. My friend Tadu is right at the front of the pack. We train extremely hard, but we try to stay relaxed.
Back to your big goal – the 2024 Olympics – what should you achieve in Valencia in order to go to Paris next year?
My goal for Valencia is clearly the Olympic standard. If I break it on Sunday, my chances of being nominated for Paris are certainly very good. So I have to run under 2:08:10 – preferably by a significant margin, because there are other strong German runners who could still have hopes.
Is that realistic? Are you well prepared/optimistic?
I wouldn’t compete there if I wasn’t convinced that I could do it. So yes, I am optimistic and feel well prepared. LetMeShip has played a big part in me being where I am today, I appreciate that every second.
Finally, do you have any tips for us on how we can optimise our training? After all, we are already planning the next company runs.
For amateur runners, it’s enough to run every three days. Recovery breaks are very important. Long, slow runs are good. Don’t run them too fast, it’s better to do a couple of increases at the end of your training. Then you will feel yourself getting faster and more enduring. I’ll be happy to give you a few tips in person when I’m back in Hamburg 😉