What’s On is training for the Dubai Marathon and documenting our progress in a blog packed with marathon training tips. Here’s a guide to getting started.

– Dubai Marathon 2014
– Ultra-Marathon runner
– Dubai’s wacky sports
– Fun runs in Dubai
– Dubai Olympic bid
– Top marathon tips

Thousands of nervous feet will pitter-patter up to the start line of the Dubai Marathon on January 23, 2015. Among them will be two members of the What’s On team, a pair of willing if not entirely able, runners who will be documenting their progress for you.

As part of our Uncool Runnings series, we spoke with personal trainer, endurance expert and marathon veteran Lee Ryan to get some handy tips on thinking long-term.

There are just 15 weeks to go until the Dubai Marathon. Here’s what I’ve learned so far: tips to lay a strong foundation and staying motivated (even during those 5am wake-up calls), so that by the time January 23 rolls round you’ll be more than ready for it.

Find a trainer
Of course, you could go it alone when it comes to marathon preparation, but why would not benefit from someone else’s experience? A personal trainer who specialises in endurance can help you create a training schedule, fine tune your nutrition, avoid injury –and give you a kick up the backside when your motivation starts to lag. Speaking of motivation…

Uncool Runnings
– Starter kit
– Warm-up races
– PT advice
– Nutrition advice

Make goals, then make them visible
My trainer, Adidas athlete and all-round marathon man Lee Ryan (@LeeRyanPTdxb), had me write a list of five goals; anything from improving my race times to fitting into an old favourite pair of jeans (both made the cut, for the record) and then keep them somewhere I can see them. This is why there are now post-it notes on my wardrobe, bathroom mirror and fridge, as a constant reminder of what I’m working towards. Nevermind if visitors think I’m weird.

Follow a plan
Like writing exams or giving a big company presentation, running a marathon is one of those occasions where I really wouldn’t advise “winging it”. A structured schedule (and there are plenty to be found online) will gradually prepare your body for the trauma joy of running 26.2 miles. Print it out, stick it up on the wall and cross out your runs as you go. Colour coding it is optional.

Keep a food diary
Another trainer tip – for one week, keep a record of what you eat. It might sound tedious, but it will help you pinpoint your junk food triggers, show you where there’s room for improvement, and solve the mystery of how your car ends up with so many Big Mac wrappers even though you swear you never eat them.