Running tips from the desert

Who better to tell you how to run than hobbyists who have to contend with the desert heat? Four runners from Dubai give their top training tips

Over thirty thousand people pounded the pavements at this year’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. For comparison, in 2000 the number was in the mere hundreds. Seen as a motorist’s city – with yawning highways and masses of high-rises, as well as soaring temperatures, Dubai is one of the last places that people would usually associate with running. But, as the following residents will tell you, there are plenty of places to wear down your sneakers if you know where to look. Four hobbyists of all ages and experiences give the lowdown on where to go.

The beginner

Name: Lea Yang
Runner for: 4 months
Aim: To finish a 1.5km run
Living area: Tecom
Usual route: The Greens Community Park

“The roads in Tecom are very short, and there are hotels, grocery stores and buildings in the area, so it’s not really suitable for me to keep a regular speed. As a new runner, I find that a changing environment is much better for my motivation than the monotony of the treadmill. So, I head to the Greens Community Park, next to Tecom. There are three small parks divided by a road that have trees, an artificial lake and white waterfowl. Walking from Tecom to The Greens taking about 20 minutes so I see that as my warmup. The diameter of the park is around 1km, so running around the park itself is my natural timer. I get out of breath in just a few minutes, but I try to keep going, with the goal being to finish running around the whole park. After 20 minutes jogging, I usually get distracted, so I go and say hello to the stray cats in the park or go to a coffee shop. For me, that’s a pretty good day.”

Jumeirah Corniche
The 14-kilometre Jumeirah Corniche, along Jumeirah beach from the Burj Al Arab to Dubai Marine Beach Resort, has a soft track which is good for runners' joints

The seasonal

Name:  Solmaz Piroozmand
Runner for: 2 years
Aim: To stay fit
Living area: Business Bay
Usual routes: Downtown and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd

“Winter in Dubai is the best season to jog, and going around Burj Khalifa on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd is my favorite route. Every day, after I finish work, I change and start off from the Al Abraj road, crossing the business bay lake to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd. The boulevard has a wide sidewalk and not many pedestrians, and it also has lit-up palm trees which are nice to look at while you run.

Since it is my usual route, I usually see managers from the restaurants along the boulevard popping their heads out to say hello as I pass. When I hit Burj Plaza, I will use the stairs and slope to do some resistance work. I don’t consider this just ‘running’ anymore; this route has become part of my daily routine.

The night-owl

Runner:  Arthur Cai
Runner for: 5 years
Aim: To do a marathon
Living area: BurJuman Centre
Usual route: The villa area around the ADCB metro station

“My dream jogging area is around the Marina, but as I live in the crowded BurJuman area, I had to find a different spot. That has turned out to be the villa compound behind the ADCB metro station: a residential area that doesn’t have too many cars or people, especially at night. I prefer to jog at night because of this and the fact that the air quality is better then. I don’t find it dangerous at all, as Dubai is a very safe city.

As I’m preparing for the marathon, besides running everyday, I need to pay extra attention to my lifestyle and diet. Because the marathon starts in the early morning, I get to bed early and get up early to adjust my biological clock.”

The dedicated

Name: Matthew
Runner for: 1 year
Aim: To do the Salomon Wadi Bih Run, in Dibba
Living area: The Greens
Usual route: Al Ittihad Park on the Palm

“Every time I train, I’ll drive with my best friend to the Al Ittihad Park in the Palm. Although the Greens, where I live, is a nice community, I prefer to go to a place where I can focus more. Al Ittihad Park is perfect for that; with a 3km running track, it feels totally different from just running on the concrete or stone sidewalks. I can calculate my speed by seeing how quickly I can complete each lap. The trees and plants in the park help to relax me, and the fact that there are a lot of other serious runners spurs me on.”