Ramadan, the worlds oldest detox, cleansing body, mind and soul.
As I sit here, only 26 days from the start of this blessed Holy month, hoping to write to you all a very thorough, thought out blog on the do’s and dont’s of running and fasting, I came to the realization that there really aren’t any rules you must abide by to keep active during Ramadan….See its all individual and really a personal preference. Especially when your fasting 17 hours a day! I will however advise you of a few things and share with you all how I personally kept active during Ramadan. This will be my fourth Ramadan as an official Runner. I have trained for Detroit marathon in 2014, and the Chicago Marathon 2015. Last year, 2016, I was in between training cycles but felt like I had a very strong month of keeping active while fasting and I FELT IT! In a good way that is! I’ve never felt more alive, more rejuvenated and refreshed in my life! It helped me fight off the sluggish feeling you get while fasting. Naturally, I would feel tired, and hungry but that’s expected. I would take naps when and if I can. That’s actually part of the sunnah, Qaylula, is a nap our Beloved Prophet would take between Thuhr and Asr prayer. (The two mid day/afternoon prayers basically).
Fasting 17 hours a day makes some people scared, nervous, intimidated even. But it’s one of the MOST humbling act of worship my body has ever experienced. I can’t believe how Little I actually need…both figuratively and physically, as I posted last year here.We all need a bit of time to recover, especially between training cycles, to take in and reap the benefits this month has to offer whilst staying as healthy and as fit as I can.
We Don’t wanna burn ourselves out. We start fresh and ambitious but gotta pace ourselves through this month….very similar to running a marathon.
“For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset. This fasting is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
Ramadan fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca”. Source (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/ramadan-fasting-start-date-170427062743037.html)
A great article on running while in the Fasting state and why it’s beneficial: “the idea behind fasting before the occasional run is to teach your body to burn fat more efficiently. “At any given time, we have a lot more available fuel in our bodies in the form of fat, so training the body to use that fuel helps immensely with endurance and aerobic performance,” explains Caleb Masland, a coach based out of Boone, N.C., who is a 2:34 marathoner.”http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/nutrition/train-body-fuel-efficiently_101145 Furthermore, “The best time to do these fasted runs is on slow, easy recovery days and sometimes longer, relaxed runs. “Workouts need to be chosen carefully,” explains Katie Davis, a Chicago-based sports dietitian and nutritionist. “Run fasted during low to moderate-intensity training, when the body’s reliance on glycogen is low and the ability to use fat as fuel is high.”
What NOT to do while Fasting & working out
As stated above its best to avoid hard-core training. So anything that gets your heart pumping at zone 5 or zone 4 is a no-no! Things I avoid while fasting are spinning classes, high intensity boot camp classes, Vinyasa yoga, and speed/tempo runs. These will only fatigue you, wear you down, and dehydrate you. The Vinyasa yoga is a heated yoga in 90 degree room. That is a detrimental combo while in the fasting state!
Time/and Workouts to do while Fasting
What I personally do during Ramadan and running is getting my run in before breaking my fast aka Iftar. This is the best time for me to run as its right before dinner time and I can run for about 30-50 mins than drink/break my fast when its Maghrib (sunset) time. Most days though, when I’m preparing dinner/iftar it’s not feasible to get my run in. So instead I’ll eat Iftar with my family, head to the mosque for taraweh prayer, (special sunnah prayers held at the most throughout the month of Ramadan), then run after taraweh prayers around 1am at night. This actually works great because then I can read Quran, have suhoor (our very early breakfast around 4am before starting our fasting for the day at sunrise), then pray fajir (early morning sunrise prayers anywhere around 5-6:30am).
During the day, if I feel I have the energy, I’ll join a Pilates or Barre class. Those are low impact, low intensity workouts that still work the core and major muscle groups needed to feel as though I got in a good workout without sweating as heavy!
If I’m feeling worn out, and during the days I have my kids home summer break, which I will as Ramadan will fall during their summer break for the second half of Ramadan this year, I’ll take my kids swimming and swim some laps in pool myself. This is actually quite refreshing and found this to be a great low impact workout while fasting! Critics will ask me how is it that your swimming when you can swallow water during fasting and swimming? To which I reply, chill, its swimming, I’m not drinking the water to fuel myself or get hydrated off of. There is nothing wrong with it. And there is also nothing wrong with running on the treadmill while fasting. Running alone at night is something I’m hesitant of trying, even with a headlight, it just creeps me out. So I use the treadmill 80% of the time during Ramadan! sometimes I’ll need to run at 3am if I decide to sleep after prayers are done. Then wake up to run and eat suhoor. There is NO SHAME in that and don’t let anyone tell you so. Heck, that’s how I was able to train for my marathons during Ramadan! which luckily for me was during second half of ramadan at the time. Which meant that my long run were only up to 8-10 miles still! I personally wouldn’t run over ten miles during ramadan not even post Iftar. It’s just going to take so much out of you and make fasting the next day miserable! But to each their own!
Last year a Libyan pro Runner, Mo Hrezi, trained for the Rio Olympics while fasting during Ramadan! I thought that was pretty amazing! But keep in mind pro athletes are on strict training schedule much different then any average Joe runner. Also, he kinda had no choice haha But still quite an accomplishment to say the least! http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/a-marathoner-prepares-for-rio-during-ramadan?cid=soc_Runner%27s+World+-+RunnersWorld_FBPAGE_Runner’s+World__News_EliteRacing
What I eat during Suhoor
We’ve all heard that staying hydrated is the key in having a successful Ramadan. But I found that, since the hours in the day are long, and the nights so short, its hard to gulp down so much water, half your body weight in oz is rule of thumb, in such a short amount of time! Besides, when your stomach has shrunk due to fasting 17 hours a day, plus standing in prayers for hours at night makes gulping water down extra hard! To solve this dilemma, I purchase electrolyte bottled water, NUUN, or coconut water. Its like getting more bang for your buck, or making that liquid really count in terms of staying hydrated.
For suhoor, I make protein smoothies, almond butter with banana and honey on grain bread, dates, fruits, greek yogurt with chia seeds, eggs, basically anything with protein and fruits that keep you hydrated. For Iftar, I eat anything to my heart’s content that isn’t basically to fatty or fried since those will end up filling you leaving you bloated, and heavy. Such foods will also absorb all water in your body which is something you can’t afford during upcoming fasting hours during hot weather. A list of suhoor ideas that I found very helpful can be found here in this article. I’ll also try my best to post as many healthy suhoor ideas on my Instagram account.
Last year and this year, Detroit, along with various other cities will partake in the Fasting 5k. A group of my Detroit friends will organize it for charity. The run is held in Canton, MI, with possible Iftar afterwards. check it out and see if you have one in your city! A fun challenge to keep active while fasting! http://www.metrotimes.com/the-scene/archives/2016/06/25/taste-of-ramadan-fasting-and-running-the-ultimate-cleanse#.V27lQ-AB_qM.facebook
Lastly, Please DON’T workout or run during Ramadan if your body isn’t conditioned to do so or if you have never done so during previous Ramadan. This is not a time to start your workout regime, or lose weight, or start training for a marathon! This is dangerous and not recommended. This month should be a month of fasting, giving charity, deep devotion, reading Quran, attending prayers, and focusing on increasing our relationship with God. And hopefully maintaining that even after Ramadan. Do take rest days if need be. Our Ibaadah is the main priority here. Having said that, I do find myself at better spiritual connection when I do keep active. May God accept our fasting and prayers, Amen!
Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Indeed! You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ