Running. Ramadhan. Two words which begin with the letter R but for most, that’s about as much as they have in common. Who would do it? Why would you do it? How do you even do it?!
When I began my running journey, it was the month of Ramadhan. I thought it would not work out well, with religious and work commitments, let alone the thought of taking on a new physical activity whilst fasting. Not only have I stayed alive to tell this story but I have run a half marathon whilst fasting to raise funds for charity. As we approach the Holy month of Ramadhan, I wanted to share three tips based on my own experience, for the benefit of those that may consider this an unachievable feat this month.
Whilst we all have our preferred time of the day to exercise, during Ramadhan it is wise to plan running as close to Duas/Iftar time. I tend to plan my run so it finishes in time for Duas and if I’m pushed for time I will run whilst listening to Duas during my run. I prep my Iftar, including a 1 litre bottle of water, before going for a run so I can pray and open my fast as soon as I get home. I generally avoid running after Iftar as I get a stitch with a full stomach.
When running whilst fasting, I tend to significantly reduce my pace. An alternative way to achieve this, is to reduce your heart rate zone whilst running. Alternatively, you can also reduce the distance you cover. However, if this is your first Ramadhan as a runner, you can may want to consider reducing both speed and distance and review how you feel. I also reduce my running days in order to allow my muscles greater recovery time.
- Avoid eating high fat, fried & sugary foods (Astagfirullah!). Eat grilled/baked foods, you don’t know the taste of a grilled samosa or kebab until you’ve tried one!
- Try to have meals with a good balance of protein and carbs for Iftar.
- Avoid skipping Suhoor – it’s important to fuel up, especially on days when you are planning to run.
- Reduce tea & coffee and other diuretic drinks. Remember, salt is a diuretic too!
- Drink lots of water between Iftar and Suhoor.
The most important thing is to listen to your body. If you have any health conditions such as diabetes, it is recommended you speak with a health professional before undertaking a fasted run. But for those that are considering keeping the legs ticking over this month, do it knowing that running + Ramadhan doesn’t always = failure.
By Imtiaz Hasham