Marathon training in Dubai

Will Milner goes shopping for success in a super-sized sport shop

The Knowledge

Instead of starting his fitness regime, Will Milner is talking pants and eating a lot.

For obvious reasons they don’t let you try on the underwear in a clothing store. Nobody likes the idea of pre-worn pants, so purchases have to be made blind.

I know my size, I know which materials I find comfortable and, without being boastful, I’ve been confidently able to dress myself for more than 30 years. You would think buying my own boxer shorts would therefore be easy. So how I ended up modelling some kind of designer athletic thong in front of my stunned wife is a mystery to me. It is hard to tell whether her shrieks were actually in fact of horror or humour but it seems unlikely I’ll wear the offending item ever again.

It was being left unattended in a giant sports shop that set me on the latest path to humiliation. There is something about the sight of all that Lycra and camping equipment that fills me with an unfounded sense of confidence and wellbeing.

I only went in to pick up a pair of child’s swimming goggles. Ten minutes later I had resolved to run the Dubai Marathon and was walking out with shorts that promised to warm up my thigh muscles, T-shirts which would evaporate my sweat, socks with built-in shock absorbers and a fistful of high-energy candy bars.

After a jog up the escalator (two steps at a time, naturally) and a quick hop, skip and a jump along to the food court I broke the news to my waiting family. Over a double cheeseburger, fries and milkshake (I figure one last treat before serious training begins can’t hurt) it was discussed that a) the 10km was a more realistic distance for a beginner and b) I don’t actually own a pair of trainers.

After a quick trip back to the sports shop I am now the proud owner of shoes so futuristic in appearance and groundbreaking in their description that I may actually need a licence to wear them, as well as sweatbands, the nonsensical knickers, a training watch, lightweight drink bottles and some protein shakes.

That was three weeks ago and I haven’t used any of it. Apart from the protein shakes and candy bars.

I have managed to buy three jogging books, download seven running apps, set up a digital pedometer and develop a worrying addiction to inspirational videos on YouTube but still I have not taken a single step.

All the equipment is an excuse to stop me exercising. Maybe I should ditch it and run barefoot on the beach. Don’t worry – I won’t wear the thong.

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