For followers of Islam, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar poses a particular challenge for runners of the faith. It is a time where followers are expected to abstain from food, water and intimate relations during daytime hours in commemoration of Prophet Muhammed’s first revelation. However running is still very much possible if you plan well and listen to your body. Read the following tips on what you should be doing.
1. Don’t plan to run faster As this is a difficult time for your body, it is best to view this period as a time to maintain your endurance. So after you have laced up your shoes, don’t worry about hitting a fast pace, speed or long distance as your primary focus should be health and well-being. Experts suggest that you should do a maximum of 1 hour or 70% of your usual workout. It is best not to do any high intensity runs or long distances during the fasting period as over-stressing your body will suppress your immune system and have a higher likelihood of injury. You should start your run 30 to 60 minutes before the time you plan to eat and pay particular attention to your body. Ease off immediately if you notice any unusual issues. 2. Find a time that works best for you As with most running matters, the timing of when you run is down to the individual. There are pros and cons of running before Iftar (the meal served at the end of Ramadan) or Suhoor (the meal consumed before fasting begins). Running before Suhoor There are also obvious benefits as you will be better rested after sleeping as well as having time to eat. There is also the opportunity to run at a higher intensity or longer distance than you would if you ran before Iftar. However there is a shorter time period for you to refuel and rehydrate with daylight approaching. Your run would also be in the dark (if outdoors) and your sleeping hours would be shorter. Running before Iftar Most runners choose to run before Iftar as it allows outdoor evening running and because you can rehydrate and refuel for eight to ten hours post run. There are also advantages of running in a fasted state such as increased mitochondrial biogenesis stimulation as well as improving fat-burning potential. The obvious difficulty is that you won’t have consumed any food or water for ten to twelve hours so any runs you do will be of light to moderate intensity. If possible, you should run with a friend or in a group during this time in case you get into any difficulty.
3. Consider indoor training If temperature or safety is a concern for your runs, consider the benefits of running indoors. Treadmills in your local gym are an excellent alternative to pounding the streets. There is also the option to do cross training using equipment like dumbbells to complement exercises such as lunges, squats and core exercises. If you don’t have access to a gym, you can consider bodyweight exercises using these Total Running Club videos (https://bit.ly/3uBTke9 ) which need no equipment whatsoever. 4. Refuel rapidly Whichever form of exercise you decide on, prioritize fluid and food intake immediately on completion. As per Prophet Muhammad’s recommendation, water and dates are the ideal combination to break fast as well as being very easy to carry. Malaysian coconut water is also an ideal drink to have after your run with its high content of potassium to help retain fluid and maintain electrolyte balance. You should focus on having high quality meals during this month as you will be eating less so every bite counts! Be sure to include some of the following items that we recommended in this article (https://bit.ly/3t2TlY9 ). 5. Rest well With a shorter time to sleep due to eating and praying at night, it is also vital to make sure that you get as much good quality sleep as you can. Implement good sleep routines such as developing a series of stretches and disengaging from electronic devices before you get into bed. If possible, a short nap during the day will also help your body to recover and recharge for any planned evening runs. 6. Prepare mentally Ramadan is a time for Muslims to have self-reflection, a recommitted devotion to God and practice self-control. Running during this time will help with all three of these aspects. Many Muslim athletes say that they foster a closer relationship with Allah as well as learn about their own physical and mental limits during their training during this holy month. Runners are also able to stimulate different physical and psychological resources that they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to do. Having a positive mental attitude together with being organized, disciplined and self-aware are even more vital than usual as you run during Ramadan. Expert tip: Take it easy in the first seven days. Your body will be adjusting to severe changes in its sleep and feeding cycles so it is important to ease into any form or exercise or running. Do you run during Ramadan? Which tip are you going to try? Let us know in the comments below.