Running from Running

Posted on November 16, 2010


It seems that every time I look on Facebook, I see former fellow ABRaS* members posting pics of new hobbies that have stemmed from their original love for running.  Does road running have a shelf-life I wonder?  Does simply pounding the streets eventually become boring?

I guess in Dubai it does – I know that even though I’m fortunate to have the lush and colourful Emirates Hills on my doorstep, if I’m in Dubai for more than a month or so at a time, I start to crave something more … fields, trees, wild flowers, street life and animated shop sellers instead of artificial grass, over-excited sprinklers and miserable looking dogs being taken on their daily rounds by even more miserable looking helpers …. all with the backdrop of a Truman Show-like movie set.

So what next?  What do former short distance road runners tend to move on to next?  It takes a mere Google search to be drowning in alternative options …. mammoth challenges that will not only take you to a new level physically but also mentally and emotionally.

Here are a few options to whet the appetite and get the mind wondering:

  • Ultra Running – race distances beyond 26.2 miles.  There are now organised all over the world and range from 50km to 100m+.  From California to Cairo, the Alps to the Andes, no corner is left untouched.  There are also plenty of resources out there to inspire and train you so there’s no excuse not to give one a go.  I, for one, am a convert!
  • Orienteering – map reading essential! The thought brings me back to disastrous Duke of Edinburgh expeditions when fighting over the compass and map-reading upside down seemed to get in the way of naughty antics involving marlborough lights, bottles of gin and skinny-dipping in freezing cold rivers in the Lake District.  Nonetheless, it has a great following now so worth finding out why …
  • Triathlon – swimming-cycling-running, over a wide range of distances. It seems not a week goes by in Dubai without a triathlon.  There are various clubs, loads of competitors, endless organised training sessions and cool events out at Ghantoot most Fridays. Is it finally cool to be seen in a tight one-piece?  A jump-suit for triathletes?
  • Trail Running – these usually take place over gently rolling hills and pathways. My joy of joys when back in beautiful Scotland.  Here in Dubai though, it is still possible.  Get in with the running crowd, and you will find there are regular runs organised out in the Wadi’s.  And of course, one of the best running events in the calendar is the famous Wadi Bih that is run as a relay through Wadi Bih near Dibba.  Alternatively, it can be run solo (75km) through the night to keep girlfriends who are simulating a night run company.  Now who on earth would be foolish enough to say yes to that proposition?!?!?!
  • Mountain running – not much explanation needed! Again, huge in other countries.  Europe, UK … Hong Kong even has a hugh mountain running scene thanks to the 250-something km of amazing mountain trails that make up the Hong Kong Trail.  Here, we are restricted to Jebel Hafeet but all joking aside, 12.5km up / 12.5km down … it’s steep … the views are amazing at the top … and if you go in the Winter it is cool, breezy and a world away from the sandpit we call home.
  • Extreme running – these courses are usually designed by sadists! They can include such things as crawling under netting and water hazards etc. This one is last on my list … for a reason!

So the thought for today is this …. when road running becomes a bore and you seek an injection of fun, when pounding the pavements becomes a chore and you need a new challenge, you needn’t hang up your running shoes altogether … just find the variation that fits you best and take a fork in the road.  It’s the forks in life that lead to the most interesting places after all.

*ABRaS is a VERY high performing running club in Dubai.  When I say former members, they may still be members but I, being a morning runner and not a night owl, rarely go to the training sessions now and besides, I’m not sure this approach / intensity towards training really ever suited me.

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