How to prepare for the next ultra-marathon in Qatar
Wouldn’t you want to run long distances without tiring so quickly? If that is you, then you came to the right place! In Qatar, running is encouraged, with opportunities for all. Training for an ultra-marathon requires intense preparation, commitment, and skill. This may seem daunting at first, but we will be guiding you through the process covering all the steps to be taken before and after your ultra run.
Why participate in such an event?
The health benefits of running for even 10 minutes a day are significant. One study came to the conclusion that running can increase longevity, reduce the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke, reduce cardiovascular disease, and lower the risk of developing cancer and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The other benefits mentioned in another study include improved mood, sleep, concentration ability, and metabolism. Running combined with a proper diet helps combat obesity making a person fit for day-to-today activities, increasing overall stamina and performance.
How should I prepare?
A complete beginner with little to no experience in running or even an amateur runner can follow these tips to minimize body damage and make the overall experience pleasant.
Warmup and posture: Warming up, stretching, and maintaining proper posture can help avoid injuries and makes running better as it helps with recovery and performance.
Ankle stretching helps avoid ankle injuries when running, it involves using the toes of one foot and your hands on a wall, shifting your body weight onto your front heel, and letting your body move forward by bending your front knee until you feel a stretch on the back of your ankle. Move back and forth and repeat on the other foot.
Chin tuck helps maintain good posture, it involves standing up straight or lying down with your neck and spine aligned and activating neck flexors by nodding your head to tuck the chin. Next, Lift your head slightly higher and hold this position for a 2-second count before relaxing your neck and lowering your head. Maintain the natural curve of the neck and repeat the motion 6 to 8 times.
Track distance: The total distance of a run must be tracked. This is so that progression can be made each week and it can be really motivating to see the improvements every week! It would be impossible to complete an ultra-marathon without proper distance tracking. Attending events with shorter distances like 5 KM, 10 KM, 15 KM, etc. can help slowly build up the stamina and endurance for the ultra-marathon.
Consistency is the key to successfully making significant running progressions. It is more productive to run 2 to 3 times a week consistently rather than running every day for a week and then giving up. It is crucial to set realistic and viable goals with rest days to recover.
Running shoes: The use of appropriate and comfortable running shoes can help make running a whole lot better. It is important to change out your shoes often and make sure they fit!
Recovery: Rest days to recover or replace the runs with cycling, swimming, or walking during the week is crucial. This is because recovery affects performance. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) may help with your recovery. Also, The high temperatures in Qatar may affect your run, so it's important to take breaks and stay hydrated.
Pace and form: Maintaining proper form and a steady pace during your runs can help cover longer distances. Avoid head tilting and shoulder slumping. Instead, keep the shoulders down and back while bringing the chest lifted. It's important to relax and loosen your hands and don’t bring your arms in front of your body. Also, for maximum performance from the hip flexors, avoid hitting the ground with your heel.
Refueling and hydration: Experiment with different high-carb energy foods such as bananas, oats, peanut butter, dried fruit, pasta, rice, etc. to see how your body reacts during the runs. Avoid refined sugar, dairy, and energy drinks. Instead, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Commitment: It can be hard to stay motivated. However, if you have people around you working towards the same goal, then it can most definitely help you stay on track. In Qatar, the running community is active and open to all, Doha Bay Running Club has training sessions about 5 days per week which can help improve your pace and stamina with lots of people training together to prepare for the upcoming running events.
How can I prepare on the day before the ultra-marathon?
The following essentials, as well as personal necessities, can be packed in a backpack or a gym bag:
- Extra clothing (dry shirt, shorts, and socks)
- High-carb energy foods
- Water (Plentiful)
It is important to not overload the backpack as the weight can affect your performance, only take the essentials. Also, stay hydrated and eat a high protein and carbohydrate-rich meal prior to the race day.
What to do after the run?
The results of the run should not be given the highest priority. The fact that you’ve attempted an ultra-marathon in itself is an achievement, so be proud and positive regardless of the outcome.
It is important to drink plenty of water, consume high protein and carbohydrate-rich foods, and to avoid high fat or sugar foods. Also, stretching and walking can help with stiffness. As mentioned earlier, recovery is important to avoid long-term injuries and to come back even stronger.
Finally, self examine and evaluate the outcome of the run to learn from the experience and implement different strategies for the next running event.
How can I participate?
There are many running events in Qatar, most notably is the Qatar East to West Ultra Run, the biggest ultra-marathon event hosted by The Qatar Sports for All Federation (QSFA) was held on December 10th, with 660 participants from 59 different countries and a 35% Qatari participation.
QSFA invited everyone to participate and train for this event to promote the fitness, health, and well-being of the community. This 90 KM run started from Sheraton Park and ended at Dukhan Beach.
There are many more running events held in Qatar. For example, The Dawn Challenge was held on December 17th, in Katara Cultural Village, Katara Hills. The event was held to raise awareness about men's cancers by running against prostate cancer with several running distance options (5 KM/10 KM/21 KM) for runners with different experience and skill levels.
How do I know that I’m prepared?
It is important to follow all the tips mentioned above and to stay consistent so that progression is made throughout the months of your training session.
Mohsen Zitouni who completed the Qatar East to West Ultra Run and came first under the men’s singles category had a few words of advice: “I think 90 KM is not easy and no one will ever say it's easy, but it will take you at least 3 months of training without the basics and you should remove most of your intervals and just keep running long distances every week and slowly increase distance by 10% until you are able to run 60 KM easily, then you will know you are ready.”
The ultra-marathon event will be held again next year, but this could also be an opportunity to start training and preparing by participating in upcoming running events. Are you ready to take part in the next ultra run?
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Cover & inline image credit: QSFA