Countdown to the Dubai Marathon 2018: Why you need three weeks of rest

A few reminders from Lee Ryan as your marathon prep winds down: tapering is crucial at this point in your training, and you need to ditch your running buddy

I know what you are thinking: 'Three weeks! How is it only three weeks until we step onto to the starting line at the 2018 Dubai Marathon? It was only Christmas yesterday!' Those are likely the thoughts running through your heas as you press the snooze button on your alarm and pull your duvet back over your head.

To be honest, hiding under the duvet may not be the worst idea. In my last article, I spoke about sleep and how it has a major impact on your training and recovery – I hope this has made a difference. There are many famous quotes I like to look at from time-to-time, this being one of them: if you cannot exercise the body, exercise the mind.

This is a major part of how the next three weeks should go. What needs to be clear is that we no longer want to be looking back through the training – it’s done now, no point stressing about or questioning anything. We need to break the next few weeks into mini goals to get there, but your training plan should still include a few sessions for you to run and stay sane.

If we imagine our 12-week plan like a flight, the start of the plan is climbing aboard and buckling up, and take-off is executing the plan. As we reach cruising altitude, this is the main part of the plan, with intense sessions and longer mileage; we may hit some turbulence but we pull through. Now as we start to approach our destination (the marathon), we start to slow down and prepare for landing.

The crew come around to clear away any rubbish before landing that may be distracting to us. This is where we are right now, because we still have some of the journey to go. This tapering method allows us to rebuild on the work we have done – there will be no major physical gains made within the next few weeks by adding extra runs and sessions in.

If anything, you will counteract the gains. Now, it’s all about staying healthy, making a clear schedule with your training (runs, yoga, gym) and your recovery (sleep, food, rehab), while trying to limit external stresses that may impact you. I know life sometimes gets in the way, we just need to make sure we have full control of the things we can. Make it clear in your mind what you must do, fight the urge to always do more. Stay positive, stay strong.

Important: from now on, there should be no new kit. This is the biggest mistake you can make. We all want to look good when we cross the line, but wear what you’ve been training in. There is always that friend, who has a colleague at work, or whose sister or cousin has done this before, and she says do this… if you cannot escape such a conversation, just smile and nod until you have an opening. Nobody knows you more than you. Listen to your body and give it what it wants. We want you to be tip-top on race day, and that includes being comfortable in your apparel.

Now, for the people who have been training with a running buddy over the last few weeks: it's cute, but this won't work on race day. One of the biggest things that stops people reaching their goal is running with a buddy. It's true, they have been your motivation to wake up, and there have been many post-­session Instagram selfies, but as you know throughout training, some days have been good for you both, some days have been bad. How many times did you not train because your buddy couldn't make it? Thought so.

My advice is always: do not assume the other person knows the rules of race day. It needs to be a clear and cut-throat conversation beforehand – if one person is not feeling it and the other is looking strong, do not hold each other back. Simple.

There will be no guilt, no stopping because the other needs a breather. If one person wants to push on and try for a better time than planned, the other person can in no way make them feel guilty for this. The same goes if one runner is not 100 per cent on the day; you cannot hold up the other person. Honestly guys, this is a very real problem, so make it clear from the start with your buddy and race on.

Lee Ryan is the captain of adidas Runners Dubai, a professional athlete, record-breaking endurance runner, and also a personal trainer, working with the likes of Arsenal F C. 


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