Norwich – Amsterdam – Dubai – EASY
Easy flight from Norwich then onto my first treat – a foot massage at Schipol Airport. Great way to get the feet ready for the Running Training!
I even discussed a corporate deal with the company, XpresSpa, who are setting up in Dubai this year – straight down to business!
The first day of my fitness programme was actually cloudy! Apparently the first cloudy day for ages! So I decided to hire a car and take the Fitness Challenges further afield…..
FITNESS CHALLENGE 1 – 5km Run on the Running Track near the Burj Al Arab
Well I seriously underestimated the heat! This was the slowest 5k I have done this year – 21:21. Amazing setting for my first challenge though, and it gives me a baseline time to try and beat by day 5
FITNESS CHALLENGE 2 – 1.5k Swim in Al Mamzar, overlooking the Burj Khalifa
Next I took the Dynamic Dubai car up the coast to a lovely bay called Al Mamzar.
This place is fantastic and has another running track, a cycle path and buoys to guide you for the open water swim.
I did a 1.5k swim (the Olympic triathlon distance). The water was lovely and it was a great way to test out the open water function on my new Garmin watch:
So all the clouds disappeared last night and it was wall to wall sunshine, I had the Dynamic car until 10am so I got up early for the next challenge…
FITNESS CHALLENGE 3 – 5k Run on the Track, the Palm Jumeriah
Even starting out at 8:30am it was SO hot. I decided to change tactics today and start off at a slower pace than yesterday at 4 min per km. The tactic paid off as my last km was 3:59 and my total time was 20:21, almost back to my usual sub 20 mins.
Learnt the basic rule when I got back to my car – park in the shade under a tree!
FITNESS CHALLENGE 4 – 2.4k Pool Swim at Discovery Gardens
I decided some sessions to work on my swimming technique would be really good for the fitness programme, so I enlisted the help of a local swimming coach. The coach wrote me up a ‘set’ of the things I needed to work on – mostly my kicking and stroke efficiency.
This set was tough and was a total of 140 lengths in the 17m local pool
20 x Front Crawl (Warm Up with stroke count)
4 x Kick (with flippers) / 4 x Pull – alternate x 10
10 × 2 Front Crawl (with Paddles)
10 × 1 Max Efforts (no breaths)
10 x Easy (swim down)
After being out and about for the last 2 days I decided to keep it local on Day 3. This also helped me Sykpe my Mum on her Birthday :)
FITNESS CHALLENGE 5 – 5k Run at Discovery Gardens
The first time I decided to take water on the run. To be honest I always feel it gets in the way so I tend to take water on board before and after any run but on the last two runs I have been gasping by 2km. The water was definitely a good move. Running around the concrete was even hotter – with the heat reflecting of the pavement and no sea breeze. The slowest time so far but all good training.
FITNESS CHALLENGE 6 – 2.8k Pool Swim at Discovery Gardens
Today I did my swim set in the bigger 20m pool. I also used the Pool Swim function on my Garmin watch. It was the hardest pool swim I have ever done. I used the set from yesterday and I felt it was really working!
If any of you haven’t tried the use of swim aids I would recommend it.
Pool Buoy – this goes in-between in your legs so your legs float and you don’t have to kick. That meant I could really focus on my stroke, thinking about things like keeping my elbows high, bending my arms as they come under, and pushing the water all the way behind me.
Float and Fins – it turns out I don’t have flexible ankles so this was great at making me toes point and ankles flex.
Paddles – great for developing my power!
Somehow I completed the set!
Not a fitness challenge this time but I had to include this, as it was additional exercise, but mostly because I found it crazy that you can snowboard in the desert.
This indoor facility at the Mall of the Emirates is -5 degrees. Mad to think, when it’s 40 degrees outside. They even have real penguins!
The carbon footprint of this place must be huge, but like everything out here, it is a wonder to see what they can build and how everything works so well. It was even real snow!
Great to get back on the board again :)
Today I decided to do something crazy on holiday – get up at 5:45am to go training. I found out that there was a local club, TriDubai, doing an Open Water Swim session by the Burj Al Arab. What better research for Dynamic Dubai than to go to a session with a local club….
FITNESS CHALLENGE 7 – Open Water Swim 1.4k, with running intervals
As you often find with Triathlon, everyone was really friendly and even though I forgot my waiver they were happy for me to join in.
The guy coaching gave us a great tip at the start – make sure you empty your lungs before every breath. I remembered this the whole session and it really helped – I felt relaxed and strong!
I was quickly put in ‘group 2’ out of 4 groups and paired up with another guy, who was training for an Iron Man. We then went into sprints on the beach followed by swimming, trying to relax the breathing. Great session!
FITNESS CHALLENGE 8 – 5km Run on the Running Track near the Burj Al Arab
This was the first time I have done the run after the swim. It was also the first time i’ve ran on the same track so I had a time to beat from my first day – 21:21.
I started at the start of the track this time and quickly felt the effects of the beach running before. It was tough but I knew I could beat Day 1 – i’m getting acclimatised to this! I know how it feels by now to sweat even before you start, your legs to feel heavy and your mouth to be dry. Plus, I was running in such a beautiful place and I was determined!
I beat my time by 14 secs
Obviously you can’t take on a fitness plan without thinking about your nutrition. For me it always comes down to what you goals are. For this trip it is all about training and putting my body under harder circumstances than at home, so when the competitions come round it all feels easier.
So, as I am not here to compete I thought it would be best to eat well for these 5 days, keeping the carbs down and go for the fatburning! The biggest consideration during the whole training was WATER intake.
On one of the evenings I was recommended to try Kcal. This is marketed as healthy fast-food. There doesn’t seem to be any healthy fast-food that do delivery back in Norwich so I thought I would give it a try.
I ordered the ‘Power Chicken Bowl’ with a side salad. The nutritional content was 296cals, 8g Fat, 14.5g Carbs, 37.6g Protein!!! I couldn’t believe how low the carbs were compared to the protein! It was basically like getting a stir fry delivered. See the picture to the left.
Now, I haven’t been strict in the evenings over these 5 days and if I’ve wanted a beer i’ve had one (i’m sort of on holiday after all). However, with a fairly low carb diet and lots of Cardio I was interested if my weight had changed. I weighed in on Day 1 and i’ll weigh in tomorrow on Day 5. I’ll let you know the result in the conclusion at the end…
It was my last day of training I wanted to give the challenges from Day 1 a go to see if i’ve improved. I tried to think of the best places to do them but if I wanted to get that run time under 20 mins I was sure I needed to get up before Sunrise. That was never going to happen….
FITNESS CHALLENGE 9 – 5km Run at the Dubai Marina
I was up fairly early at 7am and after breakfast I checked the weather. My heart sank when it said it was already 33 degrees and by the time I was going running it would be 36 degrees!
So, I decided to go to a place where there was some shade. I noticed how tall the buildings were at the Dubai Marina and that it was popular with runners so I decided on that as my venue for my last 5k. I went wearing the Nike ‘cool’ vest my friend Noel have given me for my birthday – every little helps!
I started the pace perfectly to hit under 20mins but before I got to 2k I knew it wasn’t possible. There were so many strips of sunshine in-between the tall towers and the heat was immense! I could feel myself slowing at halfway and it was all I could do to keep pushing on.
I ran with music this time and it was thanks to Joseph’s tune we play in the Studio, ‘End Credits’ by Chase and Status, that pushed me on for the last km. I ran the 5k in 21:15 and I gave it everything
FITNESS CHALLENGE 10 – 1.5k Swim at JBR beach
Swimming is all about technique and breathing for me and I feel this trip has really helped with both. It was now time to put this into action for my final swim. I’ve had 2 really good pool swims but as I was here in the scorching heat it made sense to do the last one in the Open Water.
JBR beach was full of beautiful people lazing in the sun (which I would be doing afterwards), but for my last challenge I got my googles on and swam out quite far to get to a starting point. I guessed the beach was about 750m long so it was a case of getting to the end and back.
For the first time I felt so comfortable with this distance and I was able to breathe every 3 strokes (before it had to be every 2 strokes in open water). I felt all the things I have worked on come together and I could tell I could keep getting better at this!
So after the last challenge I felt a great sense of achievement – 10 challenges in 5 days that have all really pushed me. Now i’m just looking forward to an awesome final weekend in Dubai.
I’ll be back to post a final conclusion in the airport before I fly home on Sunday….
I am now travelling back after another AMAZING trip to Dubai. I can’t believe there was still so much to do after my first trip 3 months ago.
I must say the training was excellent. There were so many great places to run and swim, and everyday it was a tough choice. I carried out my goals perfectly – to run a hard 5k everyday and really work on my swimming technique…..
Over my 5 runs my best time was 20:21, on the Palm. I am a big lover of the heat but I would say that running outside in May is just too hot. The only realistic option for good hard running outside is before sunrise. I am planning Dynamic Dubai for February, which will be much better conditions. I am hoping that the hard work I have done over here in the heat will help my 5k runs back in the UK.
I will see if this proves true at the Lord Mayors 5k on Sat 4th July.
In Dubai there is a wealth of hotels with lovely pools and lots of coastline with perfect water for open water swimming. I used the pool to work on my technique then the open water to work on my stamina, and practice for my upcoming Triathlons. For Dynamic Dubai I am currently looking into 2 accommodation options, both with great pools for swim training. I will also be doing trips to the beach for those keen on the open water swimming option.
On Day 1 my weight was 75kg (normal weight) and on Day 5 my weight was 72.4kg (a loss of 2.6kg). I put this down to lots of Cardio and keeping the Carbs down during the fitness programme. After the programme I went out for a typical Dubai Brunch and then the next day to High Tea at the Burj Khalifa. My weight before I left Dubai was then back to my normal 75kg.
My goal was not too loose weight on this trip but I proved it can be done if you want too
So Dubai is an amazing place to train and in February the conditions will be lovely! There is so much to see and do, so it will provide a truly amazing experience all round.
Look out for details coming soon for Dynamic Dubai Feb 2016!