Training Tips

Injury Prevention
One of the most important areas for newcomers to running (as well as current runners) to think about is avoiding injury and illness.
It is particularly important for beginners whose bodies and especially legs and backs are not used to the wear and tear that running long distances causes, to take some time out to think about injury prevention and to plan to avoid such trauma.
Here we’re going look at a few tips in the hope that you’ll remain injury free and ready for Race Day:  

Shoes (and kit):
The single most important part of your kit is your shoes; take proper advice and visit a specialist running store to get the right shoes for your running style, it’s not simply a case of buying the latest fashion and your shoes, if fitted correctly, will help you to avoid problems later. Saucony, the Official Sports Partner of the RAK Half Marathon 2010 has in-store shoe fitting specialists who will analyze your feet and help determine the most appropriate shoe for your feet.
Your running kit should also be of an appropriate style and fit and remember that slightly loose fitting and light colored running gear allows air to circulate and will reflect away the direct heat of the sun , thus making your outdoor training more comfortable. Saucony stores stock an extensive range of performance running gear for all ages and their staff will be happy to help assist in your choice.

Warming Up – The Right Way:
It is very important that you learn to warm up correctly and slowly warm up your muscles rather than rush out of the door and start sprinting straight away! A gently stretching routine will do the trick, work gradually from head to toe stretching all muscles slowly and holding each stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds per area. You will find a selection of useful stretching exercises below. 
Don’t forget to also warm down and spend a little time stretching off your muscles once you have finished your run.  

Cross Training:
As a runner it is useful to cross train, which is to do a mixture of different activities not just running.  This is especially important if you are new to sport as too much of one activity can cause repetitive strain injuries and, until the body is strong and well conditioned, repetition of only one kind of exercise should be avoided.
Other activities that can assist and support running training are: swimming, cross trainer (in the gym) and Pilates.  These work outs will all help to make your body stronger and more flexible without putting too much stress on your major joints.

Sports Massage:
A good sports massage once every couple of weeks during your preparation stages for the half marathon will also be very beneficial, but do make sure you check out the qualifications of the practitioner before going ahead!  A good sports massage eases out the toxins from your muscles and aids/speeds up recovery from training, but an unqualified masseuse can cause more harm than help. 
Other therapies that can help your tired muscles are ice baths and simple relaxed swimming.

Train not Strain:
Running is a tough sport but very rewarding in terms of personal ‘feel good’ factor.  Nothing beats the pleasure of crossing the finish line and getting your first running medal. Whilst it is a challenge that can be very personal and gratifying please make sure your training is steady and progressive; there’s lots of information to help you on this page and you may also consider joining a running club/group where you will be helped by experienced runners who have run many such events themselves and have learned how to avoid injuries!

Running Surfaces:
Training on cement or tarmac is harder on the body than running on grass, sand or a treadmill. Please be careful not to do all of your running on these hard surfaces as although you get a sense of running faster on roads it does create more strain on your joints and especially your hips and back, so try to mix up your training and run mainly on softer surfaces when you can.
And last but not least, please pay special attention to keeping your body well hydrated.  We recommend always carrying a bottle of Al Ain Mineral Water, the Official Water of the RAK Half Marathon as de-hydration causes damage to muscles and joints and it is important that you give some attention to what you eat and drink.  


  • Run with others, it helps motivation and when doing easy/steady runs make sure you can chat a bit – if you can’t chat you’re trying too hard!
  • If you’re not feeling well, don’t run. Wait until you’re feeling better.
  • If you are injured, see a physio, or massage therapist. Don’t ignore injuries!
  • Keep a record of your training to see the progress that you’re making.
  • Your training program is designed to prepare you for a half marathon so take it seriously but don’t push yourself too hard too soon.
  • If you’re running on a main road, run against the traffic so you can see the cars coming towards you and if running at night/early morning wear a reflective vest so traffic can see you.
  • For the race, never wear brand new gear. Always wash it and wear it at least once before race day.
  • If companies sponsor you, put their name on your running top. They love to see their names in print!

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Warm up properly and make sure you stretch a lot.
  • Wear appropriate gear and keep it clean and in good order.
  • Keep more than one pair of shoes on the go at a time.
  • Keep a record of your training and diet.
  • Check with your doctor before you start training if you’re overweight or you’ve been unwell.


  • Bolt out of the door and sprint down the road without warming up.
  • Wear old worn shoes or brand new shoes, this will cause injury.
  • Run only on roads; get on the grass whenever you can.
  • Eat too much fatty food or drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Train if you’re ill or injured, it will make things worse.
  • Run directly after a meal, it will cause indigestion.
  • Run on dark roads and between traffic.

Stretching and Mobility Tips
A regular regime of stretching before and after running will not only help you avoid injury and unnecessary pain, but will help you to feel loose and relaxed whilst running and aid your body’s recovery time.

Stretching Exercises

  • Always jog a little to warm up before starting these stretches
  • Hold each stretch for 15/20 seconds
  • Don’t go past a point where it starts to feel painful
  • Never bounce stretches
  • Move slowly into each stretch
  • Try to stretch before and after running sessions
  1. Lower Back – Lie on back, knees to chest hold for 15 seconds release slowly and repeat 3 times.
  2. Back/Glut’s – Lie on back, pull knee across body and hold, repeat 4 times each side.
  3. Hamstrings – Lie on back, raise straight leg, pull slowly into stretch and hold, release slowly, repeat x4 each leg.
  4. Calf/Hamstring – Sit with one leg outstretched and other foot against knee, put towel over foot and pull, hold and repeat on other leg.
  5. Calf – lean against wall, heels on ground, one leg forward and push hips towards the wall, repeat on other leg.
  6. Calves – lean on back of a chair, both knees bent, one in front of other, heels on floor and push rear knee downwards.
  7. Quads – Use wall to steady you, pull foot up to bottom and hold, change leg and repeat.
  8. Hamstrings – Use steeplechase barrier or similar to try to keep leg straight, hold and repeat on other leg.
  9. Abductors – Sit with heels together and push down on knees.
  10. Ilio tibial band – (band that runs down the outside of your leg from hip to knee) Bend leg over straight leg, use elbow, adjust raised knee and push slowly. If you can make this routine a habit it will really help your preparation and help avoid injuries!

Mobility Exercises 
Mobility will give you more range of movement, increase the flexibility of joints and muscles and enable you to develop a fluent and relaxed running style.

Here are a few exercises to help your mobility; if they can be done as 30/45 second efforts with equal recovery they will help your body to become stronger and more flexible.

  • Sit-ups – knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hands loosely across the chest.
  • Press-ups – try to keep your body straight and lock out elbows. (If you can’t do a full press up keep your knees on the ground).
  • Squats – feet together, pull up to between arms and kick out straight.
  • Star-jumps – arms and legs straight, lift arms as you jump and push legs out to the sides.
  • Step-ups – use a step or bench about 20 cm’s high.
  • Side-bends – stand upright, hand on side of your leg, keep back straight and stretch hand down leg, alternate sides.
  • Hopping – 10metres out/back then change leg.
  • Knee Jumps – Feet together, jump on spot, bringing knees up.
  • Back Stretch – Lie on the floor, push up as in a press up but keep hips on ground, lock elbows, hold for 10 seconds relax and repeat.
  • Leg Raises – Lie on back, hands at sides, legs straight, lift 15cms off ground, hold for 10 seconds and relax, lower slowly and repeat x10.

These exercises are often included in Gym circuit training sessions and while they can be done alone at home it can be fun to get in a group and do them maybe a couple of times a week after a run.