Dubai Sports Council, in collaboration with ASICS Middle East and 5:30, Run club recently announced of a new initiative, the ”Marathon at Home”, which will take place under the umbrella of DSC’s “Be Fit, Be Safe” and #stayhome campaigns, and is designed to keep members of UAE’s community in running shape inside their home.
The first such race of its kind in the world, “Marathon at Home” will be a timed 42.195km race open to people of all ages and abilities, and will take place on Friday, 10th April, between 8:00 and 18:00, UAE time, with a 10-hour time cap.
Is it healthy to run a marathon at home during COVID?
The gravity of COVID-19 is not lost on anyone in the world of sporting events. No wonder, most of the races have been postponed indefinitely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments across the world, including the UAE, are requesting everyone to stay home and practice social distancing. Every athlete understands that the collective fight against coronavirus is bigger than any running or sports event.
The event “Marathon at Home” has also left many surprised because a marathon is an extreme sport. When one is running at a high intensity for a long period of time, they end up weakening the immune system, making runners more at-risk of developing an illness. Many runners end up with multiple injuries post a marathon.
Dubai-based amateur runner Omar Abu who has completed 14 full marathons around the world has written an open letter calling this race problematic. Omar works as a Communications Specialist and Sports photographer. This is what he posted on his social media pages.
“My two cents about the Marathon at Home. Please be sensible and only do it if you’re prepared and at a fitness level that allows it.
I came across a “Marathon at Home” race in Dubai that is taking place next weekend, while it is an admirable initiative to get people moving and active, however, I implore anyone who has signed up to it to reconsider their plans. It would be irresponsible and naive to do it if you are not prepared. Please consider the following before you do something that can hurt you:
- When you are considering running a full marathon (in normal conditions), you have to look at factors such as the route, how many months you have to train and your current endurance level. It takes a few months to train for a full marathon (again, in normal conditions with a normal route, not even talking about one between your living room and the kitchen). A couple of weeks is not enough training for a full marathon, and to prepare for running a long distance like that indoors is asking for trouble.
- Running long distances affects one’s immune system as it puts so much stress on it, let alone racing/running hard. In these times, we need to be quite careful and sensible with our health and take precautions. Running a full marathon in the best of times, outside and in normal conditions can leave your immune system vulnerable for a while. I regularly get bad flu/cold in the days after a full race or a long hard run, and the science backs this up.
- This is not the time to get injuries. A marathon puts a huge strain on the joints, ligaments, and body. As anyone who has been into long-distance races, even if you’re well-trained, there is always a risk of getting injuries and setbacks during and after grueling races. When you are racing normally outdoors, you are running straight for most of the race. There will be some turns and bends, but you won’t do hundreds/thousands of them as you would if you are running indoors.
- If God forbid, you got injured running this, I am not sure you’d be welcomed with open arms considering the current situation when you go to a hospital/clinic with a niggle/injury because you signed up to run 42.195km indoors.
There are many other activities one can do indoors that can strengthen you and get you prepared for races whenever we get back to anything that resembles normality. We can work on core, balance. Stay safe everyone 🙏🏻”
With road races suddenly coming to a halt, multiple virtual races have sprung on the events calendar, with most races being organized by over-enthusiast fitness fanatics. Instead of going all out, we must understand that everyone must sacrifice little fire from their side. Perhaps, we can focus on other workouts that allow strengthening our bodies, while the qualified race directors can figure out what’s next in the sporting calendar.
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