Training advice ahead of marathon season in the city
Dubai’s keen runners will be spoiled for choice over the next few months, as the weather becomes hospitable enough to accommodate a whole series of both competitive and fun runs (see our schedule below for info). If you’re still toying with the idea of taking on one of these challenges, now is the perfect time to start training, and you don’t need a gym pass to do it – it’s completely free. Urban Energy Fitness trainer Zoe Da Silva and Nike+ Run Club coach Tom Wolf share their advice for the most effective training regime.
Plan properly ‘Fitting a training plan into your current lifestyle is key,’ explains Da Silva. ‘A forthcoming race is a great motivator, so plan smaller races to help you build up to the big one. The optimal weekly plan includes three running sessions, one strength training session and two days’ rest, then round off the week with an easier session, such as a swim. Your training should include a distance-building session, where you gradually increase your distance to about 85 percent of what you will be running in your race; an interval training session of 30 to 40 minutes; and a recovery run of 20 to 40 minutes. Your strength training can be anything from a free weights session to a circuit or core class, or maybe something like boxing or BodyPump.’
Find the right shoes ‘It’s essential that you invest in good shoes,’ says Da Silva. ‘Everyone runs slightly differently and no feet are the same, so finding the right shoes helps to avoid injuries. Sports stores can test your foot shape and tell you which shoes are best for you. Try plenty of styles and brands before you buy anything.’ Wolf adds: ‘It’s important to test your gait, which will analyse how you move, and the best footwear to support your function.’ See our box, above right, for more.
Stretch, stretch, stretch ‘Without flexibility, you’re an injury waiting to happen,’ Da Silva notes. ‘Tight muscles can’t go through their full range of motion, and a lack of flexibility is the main cause of Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis (pain in the foot) and shin splints. Stretch after your run when your muscles are warm, and make sure you do a pre-run warm-up with moving stretches such as walking lunges, leg swings and butt-kicks.’
Recovery ‘To aid your recovery, try an ice bath or use a cold plunge pool post-training,’ says Wolf. ‘Alternate between cold and warm water in the shower: one minute of each, and do three rounds. You will be amazed how much it accelerates your recovery. A natural electrolyte drink such as pure coconut water will also help. Where you can, avoid artificial drinks.’
Relax, and keep it up ‘A sure-fire way to become injured is overtraining,’ explains Da Silva. ‘If you feel pain, fatigued or overly sluggish, take it easy – you won’t lose your fitness levels during a few days’ rest. Keep reminding yourself of your goals and remember to keep looking ahead all the time. There will be days where you feel as much like running as you do climbing the Burj Khalifa, and it will be as challenging mentally as physically, but the anticipation of exercising is always far worse than actually doing it.’ Zoe Da Silva is a running expert and personal trainer at Urban Energy, www.urbanenergyfitness.com (055 886 9158). Tom Wolf is a coach at Nike+ Run Club and PTX Dubai, www.facebook.com/nikerunningmiddleeast. View What to eat when training for a run
Get your gait tested
Put simply, your gait describes the way you run. Different gaits require different foot support to reduce the possibility of injury – many sports stores can analyse your gait and recommend the most appropriate footwear.
Athlete’s Foot Get free gait analysis at this footwear store. Ibn Battuta (04 368 5246).
Dubai Physiotherapy and Family Medicine Clinic See expert chiropodist-podiatrist Kersten Elliot for a consultation and analysis. Consultations from Dhs350. Town Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 6333).
Nike This sports clothing store offers free gait analysis. Dubai Festival Centre (04 232 9311).