Fahad al Abri is a fitness instructor who is associated with many successful Omani athletes and who speaks from an expert’s perspective.
Here we look at the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, on the 21st and 22nd of this month, from a professional, expert, health and fitness perspective, with the objective of helping every one of the 10,000 participants enjoy a more fulfilling experience. Interestingly, our coach focuses initially, on the basic science of running, and running correctly.
Certainly, all forms of sport today focus hugely on the wider field of kinesiology, the analysis of the mechanics of movement, and in biomechanics, the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems, and how our bodies function, effectively and in athletic terms, under pressure. Al Abri makes a vital point regarding appropriate footwear, as especially in an extended athletic event if your feet are hitting the ground just a little imprecisely, 60,000-65,000 times, and that’s the average for a marathon, you may not be doing yourself too many favors.
Al Abri in offering his advice to any athlete or sporting participant says, “The greatest challenge for most people in doing an event like the marathon is in knowing how to run, how to land their feet correctly, and to balance their biomechanical stability. The constant stress or micro-stress, over a constant, extended duration is of primary importance, and in that, selecting the correct footwear takes on even greater importance, as the negative aspects of poor footwear selection could result not only in discomfort, but injury.” He continued saying, “Of course, it is human nature for people to maybe buy shoes because they are a particular brand, ‘look good’ with ‘nice colours,’ or even because shoes were ‘on sale,’ and ‘came at a good price,’ but they need to be more precise, and make good decisions, seeking guidance as to the correct footwear, otherwise the spectre of lower back and leg injuries becomes more likely’’.
Having selected the appropriate footwear, Al Abri advises a stretching programme to increase the body’s flexibility during any exercise or exertion, but especially if it is to be of an extended duration. Stretching prior to exercise allows the muscles to loosen up and become resistant to impact, therefore increasing muscular coordination, and enhancing the flexibility of a greater number of muscle groups. It offers an improved range of motion and preventing pain and injury. It also improves blood circulation and can go a long way towards eliminating lactic acid in the anaerobic metabolism, which has a debilitating, tiring effect. “Many athletic injuries,” he cautioned, “are quite simply because participants do not take the value of stretching seriously before exercise, and in fact after exercise, when ‘warming down’ is very good for the body’’.
“Nutrition and hydration are also underestimated by many, but the body must be kept fueled!” He explained, “But in the right way. The quality of carbohydrates is essential, and ‘quick sugar fixes’ are like ‘putting on a sticking plaster,’ helpful, but not a solution. Good carbs have a valuable fibre content which will balance the sugar intake, thus creating, with protein and ‘healthy’ fats, an effective and sustained nutritional cycle.
The ultimate factor, Al Abri concedes, “Even in the cooler month of February, is the issue of hydration and dehydration. People don’t feel thirsty very early, because the ‘sweating’ process doesn’t start immediately, so I recommend hydration based on a pre-race plan, and not simply reliant upon when you feel thirsty. This is vitally important!” Muscle cramps, low blood pressure, increased heart rates, and fainting as possible effects of dehydration, and the problem is that there are few warning signs, and usually the effects occur, well before the body is aware there is an issue. “Put simply, your systems will ‘crash,’ before you know you have a problem.” Aware too of the global environmental situation and the shared objectives of the event, Al Abri advised the use of “recyclable water bottles as a responsible reaction to our Omani environment to become cleaner and greener’’.
Again, Al Abri urges caution to first time participants to be wise and wary. “The Al Mouj Muscat Marathon is a wonderful event and is leading the way in promoting healthy lifestyles among all residents of the Sultanate, and I encourage everyone to take part in one of the events’’.