Running during Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset. Distance training during this period can be taxing on the runner.

What you can or can’t do will depend on your ability and current form. Some runners can train as usual, others might have to adjust their program to be able to cope with fasting and training. The following information is mostly for the benefit of the latter.

As with running in general my suggestion for Ramadan is also to run at the end of the day, but try to time your run so the ending coincides with iftar. You don’t want to wait around dehydrated after your run. Make sure your meal is prepared ahead of time. You don’t need the extra stress of having to prepare food after a run. Be sure to include plenty of water and fruit juice. If you’re going to the mosque, remember to take water, and drink as often as possible.

Make sure to get as much sleep as possible after your run, but also the night before your run. Your body will need this to help it recover enough to get the full benefit of your program.

Try to stick to a flat route on your run. Your body might not be able to cope with the extra effort required by a hilly course. If it is very hot outside, do your running on a treadmill – if possible.

You may want to avoid training at your VO2 max or to make your runs longer than one hour.

Your morning meal on the day of the run is also very important. Try to include foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates. You will also need to make sure you get adequate protein. The balance of your meal should be vegetables, fruit, water, and then some more water. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.

Here are examples of the start of a Half Marathon and Marathon program, adjusted for Ramadan:

Day Half Marathon Marathon
Monday 3 x 800 m Easy 3 x 800 m Easy pace
Tuesday 6 km Endurance pace 7 km Endurance pace
Wednesday    
Thursday 5 km Easy 5 km Easy pace
Friday    
Saturday   8 km Endurance pace
Sunday    
     
Monday 6 km Easy 8 km Fatigue Threshold
Tuesday   6 km Endurance pace
Wednesday 6 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Thursday    
Friday    
Saturday 7 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Sunday    
     
Monday 7 km Easy 8 km Endurance pace
Tuesday   8 km Endurance pace
Wednesday 7 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Thursday    
Friday    
Saturday 7 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Sunday    
     
Monday 10 x 100 m Fatigue Threshold 8 km Endurance pace
Tuesday 5 x 800 m Fatigue Threshold 6 km Endurance pace
Wednesday 7 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Thursday    
Friday    
Saturday 7 km Endurance pace 8 km Endurance pace
Sunday    
     
Monday 10 x 150 m Fatigue Threshold 8 km Endurance pace
Tuesday 5 x 900 m Fatigue Threshold 8 km Endurance pace
Wednesday   8 km Endurance pace
Thursday    
Friday    
Saturday 10 km Easy 12 km Endurance pace
Sunday    

About Author:

Quintus van Rensburg is an Athletics South Africa Certified Coach, registered with Western Province Athletics. He serves on the Western Province Athletics Statistics Standing Committee and on the Bellville Athletics Management Committee as records official, statistician and coach. He competes in road running in distances ranging from 10 km to 100 km, with a focus on endurance events.

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