Friday is a running feast for lovers of endurance events in the UAE. With the UTX50, a 50km race through Ras Al Khaimah’s mountainous and sandy terrain, and the Hatta Hills Running Festival, both taking place, last-minute preparation is very important given many runners are tackling new and challenging conditions for the first time.
We are now well into March, and as such, you should prepare accordingly for tough temperatures as you venture into the desert for some of the UAE’s best running experiences.
Whether you are participating in the 50km RAK race or completing the 5km/10km/half-marathon trek around the Hajar Mountains of Hatta, you need to keep well hydrated.
Carry plenty of fluids with you in a comfortable backpack and take advantage of every drink station available.
Plenty of water is the key but also have some isotonic drinks with you as they can help replenish carbohydrates quickly as your body will need to dip into these energy stores during the race. In races such as this, it’s always better to have too much water than too little, as you will find your body needing more to keep hydrated than just a normal, typical run in the UAE heat.
It is also highly recommended that you wear sun protection, a hat, sunglasses, take some sugar boosters and carry tape for any injuries.
And, to ensure that you are organised, make sure you pack your belongings the night before and have your race bib attached to your event t-shirt.
Given both races start early, this will save you valuable time rushing around on the morning of the events.
Expect bumpy and up and down ground throughout – so wear footwear you’ve worn in and feel confident with. Now is not the time to be experimenting with those brand new trainers you’ve just shelled out hundreds of dirhams on. Strong stability is crucial and you want to make sure your trainers have a solid outer sole and heel area, limiting the impact on lower leg joints.
It goes without saying, but a prolonged stretch and warm-up beforehand will help you burn up a bit of a sweat and prepare your muscles for what lies ahead.
One by one you should try and fire up the important muscle groups in your legs, such as the calves, glutes, IT bands, hamstrings and quadriceps as these will come in for their fair share of work. Normal stretching and limbering up exercises will do the job and I’d also recommend dynamic stretching, such as lunges and squats to warm up these big muscles too.
Whatever race or distance you’re competing in this weekend, enjoy the experience, relish the chance to see new scenery and meet fellow competitors along the way too.
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