The enthusiastic amateur’s guide for marathon

Fahad al Abri is an expert fitness instructor, and offers some good advice for those taking part in the upcoming Al Mouj Muscat Marathon as what are probably best described as enthusiasts. He advises the keen and eager to start with the basics first, and to make good decisions regarding their footwear, and if possible, to seek expert advice, as, apart from ill-fitting shoes causing blisters and severe discomfort on the day, residual issues of road contact and impact could cause later, ongoing issues, and possibly serious injury.
He understands that enthusiasts want to ‘be cool,’ and ‘look good,’ but encourages getting good counsel and good advice when sorting the shoe that is right for them. Price, colour and brand can of course influence anyone, but it requires a cool head to get shoes that are going to be comfortable for the 60,000 or 70,000 steps you will take during a marathon, fitting as well at the end as at the beginning. Put into perspective, we all have a raggedy pair of trainers that we’ve kept for years because they are ‘comfy,’ but look awful!
He was also quick to emphasise that “a meaningful stretching programme, before and after exercise and competition, is integral to successfully achieving your objectives.” Not least as they warn your body that it has some serious work ahead of it. Think of stretches from the perspective of you waking up in the morning and starting work without any shower, ablutions or breakfast. You would be pretty much useless wouldn’t you?
Stretching, by increasing your body temperature, promotes blood flow to the heart and onwards to the muscles thus reducing the possibility of ill-effects from cardiac issues, and creates an environment where the muscles and joints are more lubricated and move easier, increasing the mechanical effectiveness and functionality of the body.
There has also been research to indicate that warming up, and warming down create hormonal responses that can be helpful in stabilising the excitement and adrenaline levels that can cause a rise in lactic acid levels. So, as they say, “Don’t skip your warm-up, skip during your warm-up!”
“I guess what is important is that you enjoy yourself, and the best way of doing that is to have a good experience. Certainly from my experiences both running and training, and I have to admit that for much of my sporting life I wasn’t much good at either, I can say that excitement is a ‘killer,’ in terms of extended performance if you let it get to you. It can take so much energy, and mental energy as well. All of which makes perfect sense. I certainly found, as a coach later, that creating confidence through sound planning, like making sure nutritional and rehydration are scheduled, and your support team are in place with the right words of encouragement at the right time can make the world of difference.”
Ruslan Bugaenko is a physiotherapist with significant involvement in the OmanSail events such as the Extreme Sailing series, OmanbyUTMB, and now the marathon events, and he feels it’s important to recognise that this is not only an event, but a big occasion for many participants, who may not be athletes, and therefore to keep things simple. He suggests that leading into the final week, “They should taper their training somewhat,” so that the physical properties of the training are maintained, while eliminating fatigue and muscle soreness, “and also focus on eating well (the right food groups), and recovering well.” The legendary Hoosiers NCAA Basketball Coach, Bob Knight famously said, “Most people have the will to win. Few people have the will to prepare to win.”
Any coach or mentor will tell you that physical preparation is important, but mental strength is paramount. Remember this, said one, “The person inside you, that you thought you were, and says can’t, will never be as good as the person you really are, who says you can!”