x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Watch out for the big race Turtles

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail: this thought will be running through my mind at 7.30am tomorrow, as I line up alongside the couple of thousand people about to haul themselves over 13.1miles in the RAK Half-Marathon.

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail: this thought will be running through my mind at 7.30am tomorrow, as I line up alongside the couple of thousand people about to haul themselves over 13.1miles in the RAK Half-Marathon. This was something that two weeks ago I had no idea I would be doing. Friday mornings are normally spent in bed relaxing. The distance is one I have covered before - perhaps that is why I foolishly agreed to run despite only giving myself 14 days to get into shape, when experts recommend at least two months on a tailored training programme - having entered the Great North Runs of 2007 and 2008 in the United Kingdom, but my times are nothing special.

During the Beijing Olympics I followed the exploits of my fellow Briton Paula Radcliffe closely - she ran a "disappointing" time of 2:32:38 over the marathon. My times for the Great North Runs are only marginally better, and I got to stop at 13.1 miles. But I reckon Radcliffe never had to contend with an over-sized Snoopy or Mr Bump blocking her path. This has been a regular occurrence for me on my two outings over the distance, Mickey Mouse and all four of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have also prevented me from getting into my stride.

Of the Turtles, Donatello was the worst - weaving all over the road last October as I expended energy running left and right but not getting much further forward. I will be keeping an eye out for large reptiles tomorrow. Sammy Wanjiru, the Kenyan, won the first staging of this event two years ago in a world record time and took the men's gold over the full distance in China in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32.

If I beat that tomorrow I would be content. I had months to get fit for my two previous runs, this time I have had two weeks: suddenly the fast food (I think I was munching on a Hardee's Five Star burger at the time I was asked to enter) had to be replaced with healthy sandwiches with things like lettuce hanging out of them, soft drinks for water and no more crisps or chocolate come mid-afternoon when I felt a bit peckish.

Instead, to get me through the day, I had to turn to an apple or banana: clearly better for every part of me apart from my tastebuds. As I am not a member of a gym, my only fitness regime has been running around my block dodging the traffic around Abu Dhabi. Al Manasir is one of the sleepier parts of the capital - I would not fancy running around the Tourist Club area - but with driving standards on the roads as they are, it is still pretty dangerous.

I just run around the block to limit the chances of being mown down by an impatient driver who sees a guy running along the side of the road as little more than a temporary obstacle in their pursuit of speed. It is certainly different to my previous training schedules, which involved running around virtually desolate countryside in the northern English county of Yorkshire. An unexpected hazard was the sandstorms that enveloped the country last week.

When the sand came last week in I found a small beach was attached to me when I made it back to my flat. So, how fit can someone who has had two weeks training from a standing start be? I guess I will find out tomorrow morning. Turtles permitting of course. @Email:lthornhill@thenational.ae