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7 last-minute tips for the Dubai 10km

Pointers for the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai 10km

Dubai Marathon
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If you are not aiming for time targets, do the more serious runners a favour and get to the back.

I’m doing my fourth Dubai Standard Chartered 10k this Friday and every year I get a little bit quicker, so I must be doing something right, even if I’m not a running obsessive (my personal best is a none-too-shabby  44minutes 36 seconds).

Assuming you’ve done the hard part (ie, spent the last few months doing hundreds of laps of Safa Park with the other fitness freaks, breaking in new running shoes and laying off the Haagen Dazs), here are seven last-minute tips that could shave a few seconds off your time.

1. Plan your route to the start. Every year you see people running to get to the start line on time because they didn’t realize they couldn’t park their car in the street next to it. Most of the streets in the area will be cordoned off. The start line is always easy to find. Just follow all the other people in skimpy vests (not the fat Russians in white slip-on shoes. They’re on their way to shop in Dubai Mall).

2. Eat a good carbohydrate meal the night before – a decent-sized bowl of pasta and veg – and on the morning of the race eat very lightly about 45 minutes to an hour before the start.  I swear by a tiny bowl of porridge mixed with dates and dried banana chips. Do not drink coffee or you’ll inevitably be looking for the toilet when the starter’s gun goes off. Always, always happens.

3. Forget about energy gels. You really don’t need them for a run of 10k or less. If you really must, take half of one at the halfway mark and throw the rest away. If you put it back in your shorts pocket it will leak everywhere and you’ll run the second half of the race with a sticky groin (yes, I speak from experience).

4. Warm-up properly before the race. Lunges, high-knees, all that stuff. Limber up or suffer the consequences.

5. Stay hydrated. Drink little sips of water in the lead-up to the start.  I make my own pre-race rocket fuel : a mix of water, Pocari Sweat and Coconut water, with a tiny bit of creatine powder. The latter probably doesn’t do anything physically but it gives me a psychological boost, as if it’s some kind of magic  powder (now I’m starting to sound like Lance Armstrong).

6.  Are you entering the race because your mates from work dragooned you into it? Maybe you’re not going  to run at all but walk at a brisk pace while catching up on the office gossip. Fine, but do the more serious runners a favour and get to the back. The start of the race is always clogged up with idlers who have no intention of running and no time targets. They impede everyone else, making the first two kilometres of the race feel like a cross between a slalom run and a rugby match. Get. Out. Of. The. Way.

7. I’ll end with a couple of clichés. It’s not how you start but how you finish. Pace yourself. Oh, and don’t even try to keep up with those little Kenyan and Ethiopian guys. They’re in a league of their own. Enjoy!