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:
|Monday||3 x 800 m Easy||3 x 800 m Easy pace|
|Tuesday||6 km Endurance pace||7 km Endurance pace|
|Thursday||5 km Easy||5 km Easy pace|
|Saturday||8 km Endurance pace|
|Monday||6 km Easy||8 km Fatigue Threshold|
|Tuesday||6 km Endurance pace|
|Wednesday||6 km Endurance pace||8 km Endurance pace|
|Saturday||7 km Endurance pace||8 km Endurance pace|
|Monday||7 km Easy||8 km Endurance pace|
|Tuesday||8 km Endurance pace|
|Wednesday||7 km Endurance pace||8 km Endurance pace|
|Saturday||7 km Endurance pace||8 km Endurance pace|
|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|
|Saturday||7 km Endurance pace||8 km Endurance pace|
|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|
|Saturday||10 km Easy||12 km Endurance pace|
New regulations requiring certain female athletes to medically lower their testosterone levels in order to compete internationally are based on “fatally flawed” data, according to research led by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The research was published in the Asser International Sports Law Journal.
The authors have called for a retraction of the original research and asked the International Association of Athletics Federations – the global governing body for track and field – to reconsider the rule change, which affects
South African Olympic sprinter Caster Semenya and others.
“In almost any other setting of science, errors of this magnitude would lead to a paper being retracted,” said lead author Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Sports Governance at CU Boulder. “And it certainly would not be the basis for broad regulations that have a profound impact on people’s lives.”
In April 2018, the IAAF announced new regulations requiring certain female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels to take testosterone-lowering hormones if they want to continue to compete in the women’s category for the 400-meter, the 400-meter hurdles, the 800-meter, the 1,500-meter and the mile.
The rule, which applies to IAAF-sanctioned international competitions, requires that they maintain serum testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for at least six months prior to competition. Most females have testosterone levels ranging from 1.12 to 1.79 nmol/L while the normal adult male range is 7.7 – 29.4 nmol/L. About seven in every 1,000 elite female athletes have high testosterone levels, according to IAAF.
The association had attempted to put forth similar regulations in 2011 , but that rule was thrown out when the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – the highest court for international sport – concluded in 2015 that there was a lack of evidence linking high testosterone to “a real competitive advantage” in women.
In 2017, the IAAF came back with that research, publishing a paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), which claimed that elite women runners with the highest testosterone levels performed as much as 3 percent better than those with the lowest levels in several events.
Pielke and co-authors Erik Boye, a professor emeritus of molecular biology at the University of Oslo, and Ross Tucker, a University of Cape Town exercise physiologist, challenge those results.
“We found problematic data throughout the study and consequently, the conclusions can’t be seen as reliable,” Pielke said.
When the three tried to replicate the original findings using data from the study’s authors and publicly available results from four of the races included, they uncovered “significant anomalies and errors.”
For instance, they found performance times that were erroneously duplicated and “phantom times” that did not exist in official IAAF competition results. In addition, some athletes disqualified for doping were included in the study dataset – a fact that could confound the results.
In all, from 17 to 32 percent of the data used in the study was found to be in error. The researchers also note that IAAF researchers themselves conducted the BJSM study.
“We would not find it appropriate for cigarette companies to provide the scientific bases for the regulation of smoking, or oil companies to provide the scientific bases for regulation of fossil fuels. Sport regulation should be held to the same high standards,” they write.
The IAAF researchers did correct what they characterized as “data capture errors” and re-ran their analysis in a subsequent letter to the journal. But flaws remain in that revision, Pielke said.
The research will be at issue later this month when Pielke is expected to serve as an expert witness at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where Semenya and Athletics South Africa have brought a case against the IAAF calling the rules “discriminatory, irrational, and unjustifiable.”
Under the new regulations, those who decline to medically reduce their testosterone levels must relinquish their right to compete as females.
Originally set to take effect in November, implementation of the rules has been postponed until after the outcome of the case.
“Fundamentally, the issues that we raise with our paper are about the integrity of science in regulation,” said Pielke. “Any agency, in sport or beyond, should be expected to produce science that can withstand scrutiny and which actually supports the justification for proposed regulations. That simply did not happen here.”
It starts with the nipples. You’ve laid out your racing kit the night before. If you are a male runner this includes some surgical tape for your nipples. Even the most hardened endurance runner sometimes find that his nipples start to bleed, because of the friction created by the movement of the running shirt.
Stick to your regular race day diet, but try to eat 3 to 4 hours prior to the starting gun. Also make sure you drink something before the start. This may be water or your own pre-race mix, but it’s not a bad idea to add an hydration agent.
There are studies to support the physical and physiological benefit of caffeine use by athletes. Stay off coffee 3 days prior to a race to heighten your sensitivity. On race day take 3 to 6 mg of caffeine for every kg of bodyweight prior to the start. There are still some differences in opinion about how long before the race. Opinions range from 30 minutes to as long as 6 hours. Make sure you take some water with the caffeine.
One approach I have considered is to start the day with a cup of coffee, because of the amount of caffeine required, and then take some more caffeine in capsule form closer to the start.
On this topic it is also important to note that energy drinks must be avoided, because of the high amount of concentrated caffeine they can contain.
The final word on coffee; it also improves the working of the the small arteries, which includes slowing the occurrence of inflammation.
Check the weather report to see if it is cold. If so, take some old clothing with, something which you can throw away. Just before the gun goes, toss your clothing over the side fences, or run with it for a short distance to help you warm-up. Never throw your clothes on the ground, you might end someone’s race prematurely.
Be early at the start of the big races. Especially if you are a novice, you are more than likely to find unexpected traffic, no parking and a long line at the toilets.
When the gun goes KEEP CALM. Focus on relaxing your neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Where the hands are concerned; imagine gently holding a chip between your thumb and forefinger. If you find yourself tense up, shake out your hands for about 100 meters to help you relax and recover.
Don’t follow the frenzied masses. Start slow, be disciplined and stick to your race plan. This includes NOT weaving in and out of the crowd of runners, wasting energy in the process. If you execute your plan well you will start passing runners in the latter part of the race.
Always keep going forward. Never go backwards, sideways or spend time at a water point. This can cost you the race – especially in an ultra.
Your race feeding normally starts 45 to 60 minutes into the race. NEVER TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY. If you have not experimented with this you will begin by calculating a high end and a low end to yield a range for appropriate hourly carbohydrate intake. The range should be adjusted in time based on individual differences and effort level.
The high end is determined by bodyweight x 1.0 = grams of carbohydrates per hour.
The low end is determined by bodyweight x 0.7 = grams of carbohydrates per hour.
Remember to take some water after feeding. An hydration mix with water somewhere in your race can also be beneficial.
Don’t eat or drink during the final 5% of the race – unless you feel you really need it.
If you are on the road for more than 2 hours, make sure you have a recovery drink within minutes after you finish. It should include protein and carbohydrates … and drink some water.
Last but not least, enjoy it. Don’t make yourself miserable in the pursuit of a personal best time, rejoice in your ability to run.
(This information is based on current peer reviewed research. I will update when there are new developments.)
As a runner you should follow a healthy diet, not a fad diet. Also take note that a runner’s nutritional needs are different from those of sedentary individuals. Long-distance running, and especially endurance running, increases the nutritional needs of the body. Ideally you should have regular medical checkups to keep an eye on your nutrient levels.
Here are a few key areas of importance before a race.
Make sure you drink water every day. Your urine is a basic indicator. It should be a light yellow.
To help improve nutrition you can add some chia seeds to your water. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamins & antioxidants.
Stick to your regular, healthy diet. Do not make big changes to your diet the weeks before the race. You should aim for about 5 – 8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight per day, and 1 – 1.6 grams of protein.
Do not load your body with large amounts of carbs the night before the race. You might end up feeling bloated the next morning. Anxiety about the race can also impact digestion, adding to your discomfort.
You may want to add Rooibos tea to your diet at some point. It is a natural bronchodilator – helps you breath easier.
Tea made from Mullein flowers and leafs helps clear congestion in the lungs and soothes irritated mucus membranes. It is also an anti-inflammatory.
Ideally your diet should be rich in all the essential nutrients. Have it checked from time to time. Your doctor will prescribe a supplement where necessary.
The key nutrients for runners are iron, vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E.
Iron helps power a runner by providing the muscles with oxygen, without it aerobic capacity is hampered and fatigue sets in prematurely.
The mineral is lost through sweat, and footstrike, which damages red blood cells in the feet. Vitamin C helps to retain the mineral in the body.
When you have your iron levels checked, also ask for a check on your ferritin levels. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and releases it when needed. Ferritin binds with iron, keeping it from becoming a free radical in the body. Runners must have good ferritin levels.
Vitamin B keeps your nerve and blood cells healthy, and plays a role in many metabolic processes that are directly related to running performance. A deficiency results in tiredness and weakness.
It is well known to runners that constant cramping of the legs is often an indicator of a lack of magnesium. Among the many biochemical functions it performs in the body, energy production is of special interest to us.
Zinc helps us process the carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and is vital for a healthy, high-performing immune system that will prevent you from getting sick. It also helps to kill bacteria and viruses should you become sick.
The longer distances you run, the more vitamin E you need. Intensified exertion brought on by high mileage produces more oxidative stress. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which helps guard cells from potential damage by combating oxidation.
One of a runner’s greatest fears is falling ill before a big race. Try to avoid contact with other people as much as possible the week before your race. Stay away from public places like movies or restaurants, and especially schools and hospitals.
Runners tend to turn to preventative medicine during this time. Because we can not always be sure of the effect of these supplements on our running you should try to stick to a natural nutritional supplement which is known to be easy on the stomach. Examples are Echinaforce and Bio-Strath.
Sleep as much as possible the week before your race – at least eight hours per night. The night before a race is often stressful, resulting in less sleep.
In the same vein; Netflix and chill is not of the menu the night before. Studies have shown that female athletes tend to perform better after a sexual encounter the night before. There is a slight, insignificant drop in performance for male athletes; there is no need for them to abstain from sex the night before.
Finally, focus on your positive experience. Nerves are normal, but take your positive training experiences to the start.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 17h00
Jack Muller Park, Boston, Bellville
Suited for beginners, but experienced runners may join for technique and form drills.
Perfect for Park Runners who want to upgrade.
ASA Certified Coach
Goal race: SPAR Women’s Challenge 5 km, 26 May 2019
This is the path to your first 10 km.
R500 for three months (school term), paid in advance
Bellville Athletic Club Members: R250
Various health practitioners agree that exercise is good for the heart — but the reasons why are still not well understood.
In a new study researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) uncovered one reason why exercise might be beneficial: it stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.
Published in Nature Communications, the findings have implications for public health, physical education and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
The human heart has a relatively low capacity to regenerate itself. Young adults can renew around 1% of their heart muscle cells every year, and that rate decreases with age. Considering that losing heart cells is linked to heart failure, interventions that increase new heart cell formation have potential to prevent heart failure.
The two senior authors behind the study were Richard Lee, M.D., Harvard Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Principal Faculty member of HSCI, and Anthony Rosenzweig, M.D., Paul Dudley White Professor of Medicine at HMS, Chief of the Cardiology Division at MGH, and Principal Faculty member of HSCI.
“Maintaining a healthy heart requires balancing the loss of heart muscle cells due to injury or aging with the regeneration or birth of new heart muscle cells. Our study suggests exercise can help tip the balance in favor of regeneration,” said Rosenzweig.
“Our study shows that you might be able to make your heart younger by exercising more every day,” said Lee.
Lower leg pain and injuries have long been a problem for runners, but research at Oregon State University-Cascades has shown that one type of running shoe may increase such risks for some runners.
Researchers in the Functional Orthopedic Research Center of Excellence (FORCE) Lab compared the biomechanics associated with “maximal” and “neutral” running shoes in tests with female runners. The study concluded that runners experienced a higher impact peak and increased loading rate with the “maximal” shoes. Increases in both factors are associated with a greater likelihood of injury, such as plantar fasciitis and tibial stress fractures.
The study was published in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine and is believed to be the first rigorous analysis of impacts associated with maximal shoes.
Maximal running shoes feature increased cushioning, particularly in the forefoot region of the midsole, and have gained popularity since being introduced in 2010. More than 20 varieties of maximal shoes are on the market.
Runners wearing maximal shoes, the researchers wrote, have reported feeling the extra cushion after running two to three miles. As a result, the researchers did not expect to find increases in impact peak or loading rate in runners wearing maximal shoes.
In the FORCE Lab study, researchers evaluated the impacts on runners’ feet and legs before and after a simulated 5 000 meter (about 3 miles) run on a treadmill. Each subject wore a neutral running shoe (New Balance 880) for one test and then, after a seven to 10-day waiting period, repeated the procedure with a maximal shoe (Hoke One One Bondi 4). In each test, 3D movements and forces were measured by monitoring reflective markers placed on the runners’ shoes and legs and by having the subjects run over a “force plate” that recorded the forces being applied as the runner’s foot hit the surface.
The study also evaluated the degree of “peak eversion,” the outward turning of the foot, a factor associated with injury risk. The researchers found no difference between the maximal and neutral shoes.
Maximal shoes are becoming very popular, but without controlled studies, clinicians have been unable to make science-based recommendations to runners.
Photo by Rob Kerr / OSU Cascades FORCE Lab running shoe research with Christine Pollard