Get your running shoes out and ready for some action, because in a few days it’s that time of year again… Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon time! Now maybe this year you’re running to raise awareness for a cause that’s close to your heart, or maybe it’s something that’s been on your bucket list and is a personal challenge. Whatever your motivation is for running a marathon is, one thing is for sure— the experience is ambitious, and life-changing.
Training for a marathon is an intense process that takes place over the course of months or even years. From building your base mileage, to working on your time and speed, you will constantly be challenging and pushing your body to its limits. So, it’s no surprise that many runners implement yoga into their training for a marathon. Sure, we all know that yoga is a stress buster. But it also packs some serious perks for runners, like improving flexibility, easing aches and pains, and helping you recover from long runs and races faster. And the body isn’t the only thing to benefit from yoga. During a yoga practice the mind is also strengthened with a sense of determination that will definitely be crucial on race day.
We asked our in-house super strong+ stretchy Yogi Walid for some of his favorite poses for runners. These can be practiced pretty much anywhere, but try focusing on these postures next time you’re in a yoga class, and feel free to ask Walid for pointers on how to perfect them. Good luck on your race!
This pose will challenge you to lift and open your chest by expanding the rib cage, while strengthening your arms, shoulders and wrists, as well as increasing flexibility in the back and neck. This is an important pose in yoga for its ability to align the spine and stimulate the nervous system, and can be done before and after the run.
01. Begin lying on your belly with your legs extended straight back behind you and the tops of your feet relaxed down on the mat, hip distance apart.
02. Plant your palms beside your ribs so that your elbows are bent approximately 90 degrees and your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor.
03. Look up and on an inhale, press firmly into your palms and straighten your arms, lifting your torso, hips, and the tops of your thighs up off the ground. Your shoulders should be stacked directly over your wrists.
04. Relax your shoulders away from your ears, then begin to roll your shoulders back and find the action of pulling your chest forward through your upper arms.
05. Keep your belly in toward your spine. Remain in the position for 5-10 deep breaths, then exhale slowly and come back to starting position.
This pose can be performed before or after a run, and is effective in relaxing the body and reducing stress. It stretches the chest, spinal cord and neck, and works exclusively on your spine and hip joints. It also helps relieve pain, stiffness and discomfort in these regions and helps resolve any disorders associated with the neck, arms and palms.
01. Lie flat on your yoga mat, with your feet flat on the floor, and your arms by your side, and knees parallel to your hips.
02. Now exhale and push up, and off the floor with your feet.
03. Raise your body up leaving your neck and head flat on the mat, and the rest of your body is in the air. You can use your hands to push down for added support.
04. Stay here for a few deep breaths, then bring your spine back to the floor by articulating it one vertebrae at the time.
This a restorative yoga pose that allows the mind and the body to relax, relieving stress and tension while stretching the hamstrings and back after a run.
01. Find an open space near a wall.
02. Lie on your back, making sure that your hips are grounded on the floor as the back of your legs press against the wall, and the soles of your feet face upwards. It will take you a little bit of movement to get comfortable in this position. (you can also bend your legs a bit if you have tight hamstring muscles).
03. Now take a few minutes to breathe and enjoy this relaxing stretch!
We hope that these help and remember: A muscle is only as strong as it is flexible! So get stretching!!
‘What’s stopping me?’ – this is a question we have all asked ourselves at least once.. If you have been following us on Instagram you know that our founder Asma is running again this year for her second time at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London. Her focus, determination and perseverance in training for this race has led us to think more about you can set goals and see them through.
Why is it that sometimes you can’t stick to your goals, whether it is eating well, working out, eating better or running in a marathon? The truth is that you are probably making excuses to let yourself off the hook. Do any of these statements sound familiar? ‘I just don’t have the time’, ‘I have a bad back’, ‘I’m too old’, ‘I’m too tired’, ‘I’m not in good shape’… All these excuses are used to safeguard our pride and egos – they are defence mechanisms created to help free us from responsibility and ownership of the goals we have tried to set. Because when you tell yourself that you are ‘too tired, injured, too old (or whatever else you tell yourself)’ then you don’t have to go to the gym, work too hard, eat well or get up early.
Well we wanted to help you out with your goals and targets, so to get you on the right track we drafted some guidelines that will help get you started and keep the ball rolling:
Be accountable— If you are the only person who knows your goal, it is easier to give up. Sharing your goal with other people creates a supportive dynamic, and then it becomes a matter of pride. You will find yourself working harder on your goal when you know someone will be checking up on your progress.
Practice Discipline— Discipline is what drives our actions when we lack the motivation. When we don’t have the internal push to keep us going forward we must rely on discipline to drive us. Take a look at the successful people you admire and look up to. Self-discipline is the common quality that makes them leaders. Discipline can be challenging and takes mental strength but it is very doable!
Write your goals down and visualise them— Research has shown that people who set goals, and write them down, are more likely to reach their goals, and experience greater feelings of accomplishment. Mental visualisation is a commonly used tool for athletes, but everybody should incorporate it into their daily routine. If you SEE yourself succeeding, your chances of achieving your goals are so much better.
Positive self talk— Switch “I can’t do this” for “I will do this”. Create awareness for the negative words you may be using regularly, and each time you use one, take a moment to think of a more positive word to replace it. You can change your own patterns to help stay motivated and on track through positive self-talk, you just have to be willing to try.
Our final piece of advice: please don’t spend your life wishing you accomplished more. Instead of drifting through a life filled with ‘wouldn’t it be nice if..’ or ‘one day I will..’, try the tips above to set some goals for yourself and then work to reach them.
Well this came along quickly didn’t it? It feels like it was just yesterday that you signed up for the Dubai Marathon, and you promised yourself that you would run miles and miles whilst training in the gym every day turning yourself into a well oiled running machine. So… how did it go? If your answer is “not quite as planned” don’t worry, lots of first time runners feel exactly the same way.
Last October I ran my first half marathon in London, and before you hit the start line on Friday I wanted to share some of the lessons I took away from my experience of running in a race:
01 Stop comparing yourself to anyone else
Do not compare yourself, your endurance, your time, or your training to ANYONE else… and… Don’t Panic!! Trust me when I say that before any race everyone is a little bit nervous. I know I was! It is normal because you are about to do something that is pretty amazing, probably harder than anything you have done before and these feelings of worry and fear will later translate into feelings of pride and achievement.
02 Fuel and hydrate properly
Nutrition is really the foundation for performance and recovery, you can’t complete a marathon without fuelling your body correctly, and hydration is a careful balance of drinking the right amount and replacing what you need. Remember, your body is your home base for life. So fuel it properly by eating healthy, hydrating and supplementing wisely. One supplement that I take daily without fail is immune 360, it supports my immunity all year long and is a key to staying healthy. I am always conscious of my diet and was even more so leading up to the day of the run. During my training I would regularly seek out advice from my team at The Hundred Wellness Centre and one of the best tips I was given was from Dr Sean Penny. Sean told me to prepare my favourite lean95 shake with one ripe avocado 1.5-2 hours before the race, preparing the shake this way meant I had a tremendous power boost of energy due to the shake being packed with lots of easily absorbed good stuff including healthy fats and amino acids ( I highly recommend doing this!)
03 Listen to your body
During my training I diversified how I prepared and moved my body, and my team at the centre emphasised the importance of stretching, warming up my muscles, as well as using a foam roller. I added Pilates into my training rotation to help balance things out in my legs and help with my alignment. Joint mobility, improved flexibility, body awareness, and of course a strong core, are just a few of the ways that Pilates can help with running.
04 Mental strength is just as important as physical strength
During my rigorous training schedule I recognised the importance of mind over matter. I repeated to myself how strong I was, and how I’ve endured harder things in life than running. I love the feeling of putting my mind to something and accomplishing it. We all do this on small and large scales every day, but it had been a while since I set out on such a major goal that was so outside my comfort zone, and I learned a lot from the experience and will carry forward the importance of consistently challenging myself.
05 A good pair of shoes and watch your pace
Do not EVER run a race in new shoes! For the best fit and the most comfortable running, match your foot type (yes there are many types of arches) to the shape and components of your running shoes, and the best way to do this would be to go into a running store and have a proper fitting. When we come to the issue of “pace”.. Here are my thoughts: Don’t go out too fast. You will be tempted. Resist. Don’t do it! Setting the pace for your run is a process that starts in training. It depends on your race type, goal times, current fitness level… the list goes on. My best advice here? Aim for a steady rhythm the entire race. Wearing a watch really helps with keeping track of your pace, and for long distance races like the half marathon I find it is best to break down the race into manageable chunks.
06 An AMAZING playlist is a must
I know that some people like to run without music to get “in the zone,” but not me. I feed off lyrics that are uplifting and empowering. Truth be told sometimes I run listening to one song on repeat! TrailMix Pro is an amazing app that actually syncs the music to match your steps seamlessly. It has other great features as well so I highly recommend giving it a try.
07 Recovery time
You did it! The race was successful, but once you reach the finish line, it isn’t quite over yet…Recovering from a marathon is a critical step that runners often neglect. First off, grab some water and hydrate! Your body also needs fuel to repair your muscles right after your race, so that is when I take peac which provides easily absorbable amino acids without overloading or excess calories and Microhydrin to help boost the muscle repair! One other thing to try (I love this one!) is Epsom salt baths for their restorative benefits—soaking in the magnesium rich salts can reduce inflammation and helps restore electrolytes to your muscles.
In the end, I wouldn’t trade the experience I had training for and then running my first half marathon with anything! It truly feels like such an accomplishment to cross off my personal achievement list. Overall, I became more in-tune with myself on a new level, so if you’re getting ready to get out on Friday and run in the marathon I hope these tips help you! Good luck, and once you are done we would love to hear about your experience!