Since its inception in 2000, the Dubai Marathon has been embraced by the city and its citizens as its very own.
In its 2012 edition, over 15,000 runners have already registered for the three events taking place this Friday, on January 27th.
Runners of all age, nationalities and abilities are sending entries for the 42.195km, 10km and 3km marathon.
Now that the countdown has begun, many of you might be thinking if you are fit enough to run.
Taking part in a professional marathon can take a toll even on people who jog regularly or walk long distances. One needs to be fit – mentally as well as physically – with proper nutrition-packed diet to keep you going.
If you are a marathon novice, then you need definite training. Here's a lowdown on how you should have trained for this marathon and sneak peek on some runners’ schedule.
Your training time, type and intensity depend on the distance you are gearing up for. The Standard Chartered Dubai marathon 'official website' advises a 12-week fitness regime for beginners. For the first three weeks, take it easy and start with warm ups, brisk walk and easy running for at least one hour daily.
As the weeks progress, beginners should push the time limit to minimum two hours daily from warm-up to running long distance.
Shweta Jain Chavan, an Indian based in Dubai, is participating for the first time. “As I am a beginner, I refer to the schedule given on the Dubai marathon website. I try and go for a run at least every alternate day.”
33-year-old British runner Austyn Allison says: “I try to go running two or three times a week, but I’m not really following any particular regime; just trying to build up the distance I can cover before I get tire or bored”.
Aim at running 3km if you are a newbie, and then gradually escalate it to 4km, 5km and so on. Run long distance thrice a week, when starting your training and then steadily move up the ladder.
Do remember not to pay too much attention to the speed.
27-year-old Pakistani national Waqas Ali has been participating in the 10km run for the past four years. “I generally run 7kms once a week, every second day I run 4kms and rest of the time I do weight training.”
Ashraf Helmi, an Egyptian living in Dubai, is a semi-regular runner. “Work on strengthening your leg while training, the muscles and tendons around your joints are important to avoid injuries.”
After you are breathless and done to dust, stretching iscrucial, as it helps in proper blood circulation, and keeps injuries at bay.
Proper nutrition and hydration builds stamina, a strong immune system and can ensure a good performance. Eat right when you train torun long distance. The good news is that you probably won’t have to make drastic changes to your current eating habits.
Radhina Almeida Coutinho, who is running 10km for the second time says, “I haven’t really changed my eating habits apart from trying to cut out greasy foods and eat more healthy carbs, fruits and vegetables after the festive season wound up.”
Same goes for Ashraf, “I haven’t changed my diet – I try and stick to a carb-heavy morning.”
Shweta echoes, “I don’t have fixed food chart as such,I have just increased carbs for energy.”
Ideally, 20 per cent proteins, 20 per cent fat and 60 percent carbohydrates should make for a runner’s meal plan.
If that’s too much of calculations for you, we’ll make things a little simpler – just eat lots of bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables and balance it with minerals and water.
Notes of caution – keep at least an hour’s gap between eating and your workout. Do not fill yourself up with water before running.
Once your workouts are sorted and diet under control, remember to shop for your running gear. Yes ladies it’s time to shop!
A good pair of running shoes is a must. Remember, a shoe made for running is quite different from a shoe made for tennis or basketball.
For running, you would require a shoe that has more cushioning on the forefoot. Make sure the shoes fit you perfectly.
Waqas says, “Do not buy a new pair of shoe and go for the marathon, you will have blisters and won’t be able to walk – forget running. Make sure you are comfortable in your shoes.”
Do not wear cotton gears. Dry fit T-shirts, cut-sleeves or basketball jerseys, sweat shirts and athletic tank tops are a good choice.
For the lower body, go for shorts, three-fourths, full length track pants. The shorts you choose should not be too tight. The best fabric to choose is dry fit, as it wicks moisture and keeps the skin dry.
So if you’re all set to run, make sure you’ve registered for the marathon. Log on to www.dubaimarathon.org and register for the marathon, the 10km and the 3km Fun Run. Entries will be accepted until January 24.
The start and finish for the Marathon will be in Downtown Dubai adjacent to the Burj Khalifa.
Of course it isn’t just hard work – there’s prize money if you win the race. And if you don’t, at least you will find yourself more fit than you were a couple of months back.
Radhina says, “I needed to get fit after a month of festive excess and this seemed a good way to kick-start the process."
"I want to stay fit. And the 10k seems like a good goal to have. I was running before I did it, and I'll run after as well. But it's nice to have a focal point. And I am looking forward to a well-deserved brunch after all the running," says Austyn gleefully.
Now that everything seems to be in place for the big event what's stopping you...run!
Top five tips from Dubai marathon veterans:
1. Don’t push yourself too hard
2. Get good shoes - they make a big difference
3. Run outdoors
4. Careful about food, eat lots of good quality carbs
5. Load your iPod with a good playlist as it helps distract you and makes the kilometres pass faster