Countdown to the Dubai Marathon 2018: Lifestyle hacks when it comes to training

In the second instalment of our marathon prep series, here are some trials and triumphs you can expect in the first few weeks

When you start training for the marathon, your body will initially respond in many different ways, both physically and mentally. This is normal, so don't worry, just keep going. We are creatures of habit and we need to allow the body to become accustomed to any new regime.

The first step – committing to the plan – is the hardest, but one of the most important. As mentioned in the first instalment of this series, I, along with Adidas Runners Dubai, have developed a dedicated training programme.

There is a reason why I haven't put times of training into the plan; it is about how you find time in your day. Most of the sessions in these initial weeks can be allocated to one hour, maybe a bit more. But with 24 hours in a day, one hour is only 4 per cent of that. So "I don't have time" is not a valid excuse. Being more productive in your prep is key. Here are some aspects you should consider.  

Time: Don't be afraid to manoeuvre your session to make it work around your week. For example, you may need to set the alarm a little bit earlier if your day will finish late, or train in the gym on a treadmill, if you are travelling. One thing to remember is to never go back on a session. If, for whatever reason, you miss a session in the plan, just move to the next one. If you start backlogging and trying to make up sessions, it will be too much on the body.

Sleep: This a massive factor that is overlooked by many. The benefits of sleep are not a secret, but people hugely underestimate how it can impact your health and well-being. Good, deep sleep is when the body repairs, reboots and grows. Think of it as recharging your batteries. Try and find a routine to give yourself enough time to sleep.  

Food: Going into such a plan, we need to look at food as fuel for the sessions and for the recovery. Healthy food can be delicious and full of flavour. Bin the boiled chicken breast and soggy broccoli, but remember fast food and fizzy sugary drinks are not the way to do it. It is a matter of learning how your body responds to what is going in. A well-balanced diet that includes, fruits, vegetables, carbs and protein is key.

Water: Hydration, too, plays a big part. In my coaching career, I have seen some cases of people drinking only one glass of water in the day. A general rule of thumb is we need to drink around two litres of water a day. The human body is 80 per cent water, so it needs to be well hydrated for it to function and maintain a healthy environment for your internal organs to do their jobs. In this type of training, we need to change the mind- set to move from what we look like to look deeper within and make sure the body works better. Only then will the body change and improve.

Data: Find ways to measure what you're doing with your training. There are many wearables and apps that can help you collect data, so you can focus on improvement and have a good indication on how the body is changing. This data is great to look back on those tough days when you feel you are not making any headway, you can reflect back on the progress made.

Something I have to tell myself many times on my runs is to never judge a run by the first kilometre. Keep going, and I promise you will feel amazing.

Lee Ryan is the captain of Adidas Runner Dubai, a professional athlete, record-breaking endurance runner, and also a personal trainer, working with the likes of Arsenal F C. Not only has he set four Guinness World Records, he’s a keen marathon runner – his fastest time being an indomitable two hours and 58 minutes, set at the Berlin Marathon in September


Read more: Countdown to the Dubai Marathon 2018: Getting started


Question corner

After completing the Dublin Marathon last weekend, my next marathon will be the Dubai one in January. I know it’s an early start for the Dubai Marathon, but can you advise what the temperature and humidity will be like for race day morning? Also, any additional training tips? Should I base some of my speed runs indoors on treadmill with the heat on? 

For me to predict the weather in January would be a complete guess. The eight years that I have been running the Dubai marathon, I have never had the same weather. It has rained, had fog so thick I could not see the road I was running on, it’s been cold to hot, humid and windy. One thing, the only thing that is clear is that the temperature is maybe 10 degrees cooler than this time of year in Dubai. But we cannot focus on the things we cannot control. Getting yourself fit and strong is key, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle up until race day. Then when it arrives we can take anything it throws at us. Getting your body used to the environmental changes is a good idea, so I would recommend getting outside and hitting the roads, rather that running on a treadmill next to a heater. Because, come race day, you will only be used to running next to that heater and not the natural elements.

Do you have a question for Lee about the Dubai Marathon? Send it to for Lee to answer in the next instalment.