Running supplies; what to pack
Part of the fun of life in the Middle East is discovering what products you can use to replace your regular tried and tested, favoured choices. This is because many of brands you would naturally turn to simply are not available. 

It is, however, worth remembering that one of the beauties of running is that you basically just need a good pair of shoes and not much else. Getting back to the pure form of the sport in Qatar is a back-to-basics affair with limited access to the latest new-fangled equipment – but the reality is your running probably won’t suffer and you may well become a stronger runner as a result. The chances are though, there are certain items you may want to make sure you’ve got supplies of before you head to the country long-term. The following information is put together to provide you with an idea of what’s currently available and what isn’t so that you can prepare. 

Gels and Energy Bars 
Gu, Power Bar, Torq, Cliff, or any other gel is not currently available in Qatar. It’s understood that Gu products are currently undergoing licensing, but this is only rumour and could take several more years. 

Energy foods, dehydrated nutrition, and the like are also not available. If you use these items, you are advised to use up spare hold luggage allowance with a generous supply to keep you going. 

Gu products are readily available in Dubai, UAE. Waitrose supermarkets there stock both gels and gums, with specialist sports outlets holding a wider-range of performance and recovery nutritional items. 

Whey products are available in Qatar, although the selection is limited and is aimed more at the muscle-building community rather than for those seeking post-run refueling. Isostar electrolyte powder is usually available from most major supermarkets within Qatar. Please be aware this is the powder only and not tablets. Gatorade powder is sometimes available - ready to drink bottles usually are. If you use alternative electrolyte products you may want to bring some with you as you will need them while running, particularly during the heat of the summer. 

Sports nutrition can be bought online and mailed into the country. Items may be subject to customs’ delays and restrictions so you are advised to check carefully before ordering. 

Running shoes 
Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Asics and more recently Mizuno and Salomon shoes are stocked in Qatar. A full product range may or may not always be available, so if you wear a lesser-known model or specialist shoe, you are advised to bring a couple of spare pairs. Saucony and New Balance are sometimes stocked. Newton is expected to launch in Qatar shortly. 

As there are fewer women in the country, female shoe models and sizes are limited, particularly if you wear a UK size 7.5 upwards. 

Gait analysis and staff with the experience to provide this are limited. Take the opportunity to get fitted before you come to the country and then use vacation time to get re-fitted. Your favoured make and model can then be ordered online as necessary. 

Clothing 
Mainstream run-wear is readily available, however if you prefer lesser known brands, stock up before you travel. 

Women may also find the running wear sold does not necessarily match the modesty requirements expected by society’s conservative preferences. 

Compression clothing is pretty much limited to the 2XU brand, you can occasionally get Skins but if you prefer something else then bring with you or be prepared to order online and get shipped in. Aside from the main brands, sock brand choices are limited. If specialist items are your want then buy before you travel. 

Women are advised to get measured and stock up on sport bras. Choice is very limited within Qatar, and specialist sport underwear fitting is not available. 

Clearly, there is a very limited market for cold-weather running clothing, so you may not find a wide-range of items. 

GPS running devices 
Garmin and Polar are stocked at the larger sport outlets as well a few smaller, privately owned shops. Prices are slightly higher than in the UK/US – simply because all items have to be shipped into the country. If you need a new GPS system desperately, then you can get one, but if you’re willing to wait then shop and ship comes in handy. 

And it all else fails…there’s always the internet and courier services.