It’s that time of the year when runners’ default is marathon mode. Haven’t banked the mileage? Lace up for three Dubai fun runs with serious kudos
Never mind the 12-mile Sunday training pootles, Compeeds and carbo-loading, for there is such a thing as actually enjoying a run, didn’t you know.
Yes, while April is month of the Virgin Money London Marathon, the Madrid, Vienna and even North Pole Marathons, in Dubai there are three shorter distances that require less blood, sweat and tears and merely a modicum of training to enter.
“Will I die if I enter a 10K without training?” is the common, anguished question to be found in comment threads on running websites. Well couch potatoes will feel cooked without any discernible plan, but if you already have a basic level of fitness (it’s all mind over matter anyway…) then all you need are a few tweaks to motivate your muscles for the following April races which all require more twirling of glow-stick batons than photo finishes.
Dubai Desert Road Run, April 16
The start and finish is in the heart of the village in the Sevens Stadium. Sign up for 3km and 10km distances along private roads on a mostly flat course. www.dubairunning.com
Sandpit, April 17
This is not a race, this is a challenge of fellowship, that will “unleash you” says the organisers of this 10K obstacle course. Try wading through chilly tubs of ice, swinging from rope to rope like Tazan, crawling under barbed wire and running up a sand dune. You can enter as a team or fly solo and join some comrades on the day. www.thesandpitrun.com
Neo Run, April 19
This is the place to GLO. On registering, runner receive some ‘mind glowing’ kit such as goggles and a light sabre that will make you feel like a super-hero, according to organisers. www.neorun.com
So back to the training. For runners with less time to practice for one of these races, it’s all about the kinetic chain; firing up powerhouse muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors that link together in order to stabilise your style, gait and cadence and power you forward. Once upon a time it was exclusively the abdominals that runners were told to work on, adding planks and crunches to routines for instant strength. But it’s the muscles surrounding the pelvis that actually count – here’s how to fire them up the week before a race.
Known as the ‘forgotten core’, the gluteus medius is probably the most important muscle to a biomechanically efficient running technique. After all, it is the biggest muscle in the body. The glutes hold the pelvis in place, propel the body forward and keep it aligned.
Isolate the glutes by performing two-three sets of The Bridge for 30 seconds each day. Lie on your back, making sure your shoulders are not hunched around your ears but relaxed and your arms by your side. Raise your knees and hips up while keeping your feet flat on the ground, making a straight bridge from shoulders to knees. You should only feel tension in your glutes.
The hip flexors, infamous for being difficult to stretch, are a group of muscles in the pelvic region and upper thighs that drive the knees and keep the pelvis aligned. Our bodies balance on our hips and the hips are the fulcrums of the leg levers driving us forward
Perform the butterfly stretch daily for 30 seconds at a time for two-three reps. Sit with feet together and gently pushing forward into the thighs while keeping your back straight and core engaged.
Add weights to this exercise to improve the fast-twitch muscle fibres in your quadriceps, helping you to run faster.
Perform two-three sets of 12-15 of these basic lunges daily. Stand with both feet together and shoulder-width apart. Take a big step forward with one knee, keeping the back straight and leading toe pointing forward. Bend the front leg so that the rear leg is almost touching the ground at 90 degrees. Keeping the weight on your front heel, push off slowly and return to the start to repeat with the opposite leg.