Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Dubai Marathon 2019: What to do the week before the race

Get some last-minute race preparation tips from the experts...

As the Dubai Marathon approaches, here are some last minute tips for the week before the race. Mike Young / The National
As the Dubai Marathon approaches, here are some last minute tips for the week before the race. Mike Young / The National

With the final countdown to the Dubai Marathon upon us, runners will be experiencing that familiar buzz of nervous excitement as final preparations get underway. But for anyone having a bit of a last-minute panic, or just after some final tips, let Lee Ryan, professional athlete and captain of Adidas Runner Dubai, talk you through the week before the race...

This is it. A week to go until the Dubai Marathon. I’m not going to give you the whole motivational speech about making it count; if you feel you still need that, then this may not be the article for you. What I am going to try to do is ease your mind, which I am sure at this stage will be looking like Sheikh Zayed Road during rush hour. So, what I need you to do right now is take big, deep breaths.

Lee Ryan shares his marathon prep tips. Razan Alzayani / The National
Lee Ryan shares his marathon prep tips. Razan Alzayani / The National

Race prep

By now you may have found time to collect your race number – your golden ticket to race-day glory. Make sure to keep hold of it, as it will also be used as your timing chip on the day. You will see timing mats on the route that keep track of speed, pace and whether or not you complete the full route.

Once you get your kit sorted, you need to find a place in the house where you can leave it. Wash everything that needs washing and get to the shops to buy the food needed for your race prep. Pin your number to the front of your shirt the night before and lay everything out so you can see what you plan to put on. Going to bed stress-free the night before is key.

Nerves are guaranteed to be high on the night before the big day, so to be sure to maximise on your sleep. Make sure you also get to bed early on Wednesday, in case of a whirring mind on pre-race night.

Before going to sleep, plan out what time you’re leaving your house on race morning. Be clear about what you’re taking and eating that morning. Decide if you need to give anything to friends and family to look after for you during the run. The temperature at this time of year will be chilly, very similar to your last few training runs, so only aim to be warm on the start line and not too warm during the run.

If you want to wear extra layers for the first few kilometres, make sure you wear a long-sleeve shirt under the shirt with your race number on it, which can then be removed. If you pin your number to a shirt you may need to take off, you won’t be able to. Remember to take some warm/clean clothes for after the run, too. It’s good to be prepared, but don’t overthink the prep. If it has worked for you before in training, stick to it.

Don't get caught up on social media in the build up or aftermath of the race. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Don't get caught up on social media in the build up or aftermath of the race. REUTERS

Social media lockout

This is something I have implemented in my training and race prep, and I’ve also encouraged it with the Adidas Runners crew. Disconnecting from social media is a good way to clear the mind and focus, particularly when you have such a big challenge ahead. Yes, you will get messages of support, which is nice, but it can get overwhelming, and the last thing you want is to end up running the race to earn the admiration of others. This is something you need to do on your own. The same applies to the post-race social-media storm. Just put up a simple thank-you message, maybe even a selfie, if needed. But then, put the phone down and take it all in. You can reply to messages in your own time.

I did this after my recent success in the Berlin Marathon. I flew out of Germany on the Monday afternoon after the Sunday race and got stuck into my messages at the airport, once the dust had settled. Celebrate with the people that matter the most.

Ethiopian crowd cheer on at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) 
Ethiopian crowd cheer on at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. Reem Mohammed/The National

Support

To those not running, you still have a job to do. You have no idea how much of a role you play in the motivation and inspiration of every single runner on race day. You may be there to support friends and family, but that clap, cheer and smile to a stranger also gives them a big lift. So please make sure you come down to support. Adidas Runners are taking over the course to make sure it’s a celebration of epic proportions. We will have three cheer points on the route. Another key aspect of the support is being in a place where the person you’re supporting actually knows you are, so make a big sign so you can be seen. Choose one of the following cheer points that works best for you. You never know – it may even inspire you to run the race next year.

Our biggest cheer point is close to the open beach, near Hessa Street and Dubai College. Big screens, music and 200 cheerleaders will help to enthuse the marathon runners from 7am, and the 10-­kilometre runners from 9am. This is a great spot as you will also get them on the other side of the road as they return after the U-turn. The turnaround at Al Mehemal Street, just after Sunset Mall, is a big point in the race for marathon runners, particularly with the new route as they will take this U-turn twice. Expect another cheer squad with music here. Another good spot is the home straight, specifically, the last corner before runners face the finish line and end strong. Give them that last pick-me-up to make sure they have their head up.

Runners arriving at the finish line at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) 
Runners arriving at the finish line at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. Reem Mohammed / The National

How do you pace yourself in the actual race? As in when to speed up and when to slow down?

Rule of thumb is the race is never won in the first mile. It can only be won in the last mile. So don’t get caught up with pack racing off, everyone will be high on nerves and adrenaline. Breath and let you body get into the rhythm you are used to from training.

How much distance should we do in race-week?

The plan you should have been following shouldn’t really have anything going on in the last week, maybe a few 5km runs just to keep you mentally stable. Don’t worry you are not losing fitness by the second.

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Read more:

Dubai Marathon 2019: everything you need to know

Marcus Smith: the man who ran 30 marathons in 30 days

What it's like to run through Dubai with marathon record-breaker Nick Butter

The road to recovery: a first-hand account of beating chronic fatigue syndrome

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What foods/ drinks should we include in our diet in the week building up to the race?

Just good whole foods. Healthy fruits and veg. Lots of water. But you should know this already. There shouldn’t be any drastic changes in your diet. Your body is used to its fuel and how it will perform and feel. The pre race meal should be at around lunch time on the day before and not too late that night, your body will not be able to rest/sleep with a belly full.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan 25 2013, 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,-Fans line the Marathon Route to watch thousands compete in the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon i Jan 25, 2013. Mike Young / The National
Fans line the Marathon Route to watch thousands compete in the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. Mike Young / The National

What do you suggest we eat/ drink during the race?

There are lots of opportunities throughout the course to get some water (see below from marathon site), just listen to your body. Maintain the same system you used in training, don’t be afraid to have a walk to allow you more control when drinking. Running and drinking is a fine art and it's never pretty. You can carry the bottles with you as you run.

Lee Ryan is captain of Adidas Runners Dubai, a professional athlete, record-breaking endurance runner and a personal trainer who works with the likes of Arsenal F C

Updated: January 21, 2019 01:47 PM

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