Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

A balcony marathon with Burj Khalifa views: how one Dubai resident is keeping fit

Saudi national Abdallah Alireza ran 42.2 kilometres in the balcony of his DIFC apartment

Running a marathon in itself is no mean feat. But with people across the UAE staying indoors and practising social distancing, some have gone that extra mile, quite literally, by running marathons at home or on their apartment balconies.

Saudi national Abdallah Alireza is one such person. On Thursday, April 2, the businessman live-streamed his balcony run in his DIFC apartment – complete with the Burj Khalifa glinting away in the distance – on Instagram.

Alireza has previous experience in the health and fitness industry, and moved to the UAE mid-February looking to partner with Bespoke Ride gym. However, the subsequent outbreak of the coronavirus has led to gyms closing their doors – which meant Alireza had to work from home. But it didn’t stop him from his daily fitness goals.

He came up with the idea to do the balcony run three days ago in an effort to challenge himself. “Like most people, I’ve been struggling to maintain discipline and a schedule. With working from home, it’s hard to find that balance. Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always been training for marathons or races and just staying healthy. So I just decided to go for it.”

“I also wanted to prove to people that, just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t do anything,” he adds. “Some would think it’s impossible, but almost everyone is capable of running a marathon – even if it’s on a balcony.”

Abdallah Alireza started his balcony marathon at 4.15am and completed it in three hours 46 minutes. Instagram/ @abdallah_alireza
Abdallah Alireza started his balcony marathon at 4.15am and completed it in three hours 46 minutes. Instagram/ @abdallah_alireza

Alireza has participated in five marathons in the past, and keeps up with regular fitness exercises, so he saw this as an opportunity to team up with Move4MentalHealth, an organisation that raises awareness on mental health issues.

But, even he had to admit that running 42.2 kilometres on a balcony is harder than a usual marathon outside.

“The obvious thing is the back and forth motion, which can take a toll on your knees,” he explains. “Obviously, in a normal marathon, you are running in a straight line so you have that momentum pushing you forward, but over here you have to slow down and turn around consistently. You end up putting in additional effort. But more than that, it’s the mental aspect that can get to you – when you’re on your balcony, what you’re seeing for the most part are two walls. Staying relaxed and distracted can be a bit of a challenge.” We’re sure that having the Burj Khalifa in sight helped plenty though.

I also wanted to prove to people that, just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Some would think it’s impossible but almost everyone is capable of running a marathon – even if it’s on a balcony

Alireza started his run at 4.15am, when it was still dark, and completed it in 3 hours and 46 minutes. The entire event was streamed to his followers on Instagram Live. Just as impressive is the fact that, after he ran the marathon, he continued with his usual daily routine – having something to eat and sitting down for a full day’s work. “I want to show people that I didn’t just spend the day running – I can manage my daily life too.”

“The experience was a lot of fun,” he adds. “I had a lot of friends and family joining me and supporting me online and that made the experience a lot more enjoyable.”

Alireza also wants to encourage others to use this time to incorporate a daily home workout routine – even if that means starting small. “It’s all about getting started with relatively simple tasks – just 10 jumping jacks or sit-ups a day, and doing it consistently. It doesn’t help to do a hard workout and then nothing for three days. Find something you enjoy sticking to and slowly build on that,” he says.

Updated: April 2, 2020 06:02 PM

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