x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Last-minute runners warned

Organisers of the Dubai Marathon have issued a warning for those counting on last-minute training to get them though the gruelling 42-km event.

Experienced runners say at least a year of training is necessary before attempting a race such as the Dubai Marathon.
Experienced runners say at least a year of training is necessary before attempting a race such as the Dubai Marathon.

DUBAI // Organisers of the Dubai Marathon have issued a warning for those counting on last-minute training to get them though the gruelling 42-kilometre event: If you cannot run 24km a month before the event, wait until next year. With only two months until the marathon, most competitors would be in the final stages of training but, as in previous years, there would be those who take a last-minute approach.

Graham Rafferty, of the Dubai Road Runners club, said those new to running needed at least a year of training before attempting a marathon. "Most of this is building up base fitness, but the body has to be trained how to deal with lactic acid that builds up during a long run," Mr Rafferty said. "The best way to prepare is to join a club to benefit from the experience of others and help develop the right race pace.

"People at most danger are those who feel that, because they play sport regularly or run over short distances, they do not need to train. "They tend to run too fast and really suffer during the latter stages. Marathon training is a specific discipline and requires a dedicated training programme. "The greatest risks come when pride clouds medical judgment. Although it may be difficult to accept, people must realise that if they attempt to run with an injury or through illness, they place themselves in danger.

"If runners have not trained properly they risk calf strains, shin splints and dehydration. If they train and run on their own it increases the risk as they may not recognise symptoms." Marathon preparation should also include a thorough medical, especially a heart check, as hereditary heart conditions can sometimes go undiagnosed and considerably raise risk of injury or cardiac arrest. Chest pain, palpitations and shortness of breath should be investigated immediately.

Peter Connerton, the Dubai Marathon event director, said every effort had been made to ensure the safety of runners at the Jan 16 race. "There are water stations every 2.5km and these are clearly marked on a route map that all participants can access," Mr Connerton said. "All of our medical staff are fully trained and have experience of providing care in marathons across the world. They will be available to assist runners from start to finish."

Davina Jones, who ran the Dubai Marathon last year after a year of preparation and has also run the London and New York marathons, said new runners had to be realistic about endurance running, especially in Dubai's heat and humidity. "Because the race here is relatively new there seem to be more novices," the 38-year-old housewife said. "Last year a lot of people had to drop out, and when I go running in the park I meet people who have just signed up for the marathon but are hoping to be able to do it in just a couple of months. It is madness."

About 800 runners are due to take part in the race, but only 50 are professionals. Many of the other competitors would be running a marathon for the first time. For guidelines on preparations, visit www.dubaimarathon.org. tbrooks@thenational.ae The Dubai Road Runners and the Dubai Creek Striders run regular training sessions.