Adapting Your Training During Ramadan

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Training for the 60th Anniversary of Servus Calgary Marathon during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, presents unique challenges (as well as some special benefits!). During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from dawn until sunset, which requires a thoughtful adjustment to your training routine to maintain fitness and prepare for a race effectively. 

Sarah Itani, Servus Calgary Marathon Ambassador

Sarah Itani, a Servus Calgary Marathon Ambassador, runner and Muslim woman, says “It’s my annual reset button. It is a time to focus on pulling inward, taking stock of priorities and recalibrating on major intentions.” Sarah is training for the ASICS Runkeeper 10 km and adds “During Ramadan I tend to run without music or content in my ear. I take the opportunity to be in the moment, listen to my breathing and listen to my body.”

For our Muslim participants, here are some more tips on how to adjust your training during Ramadan while keeping your fitness levels up:

1. ADJUST YOUR CALGARY MARATHON TRAINING SCHEDULE

Sarah likes to run first thing. “I tend to do my long run right after suhoor as I still have energy!”

  • Train After Iftar: Consider shifting intense training sessions to after Iftar (the evening meal with which the fast is broken). This allows you to rehydrate and replenish energy stores before engaging in strenuous activity.
  • Opt for Lighter Sessions Before Suhoor: Gentle, restorative exercises like yoga, stretching, or a light walk can be done before Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) to keep the body moving without depleting energy levels.
  • Listen to Your Body: Reduce the intensity and duration of your training. Ramadan is not the time to push for personal bests. Focus on maintaining fitness rather than improving it.

2. HYDRATION IS KEY

  • Hydrate Well During Non-Fasting Hours: Make sure to drink plenty of fluids between Iftar and Suhoor, focusing on water and avoiding caffeinated drinks as much as possible to prevent dehydration.
  • Incorporate Hydrating Foods: Include water-rich foods in your Suhoor and Iftar meals, such as fruits and vegetables, to help maintain hydration.

3. NUTRITION FOCUS

  • Balanced Suhoor: Your pre-dawn meal should be wholesome and include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to sustain you through the day. Slow-releasing energy foods, like oatmeal, can be very beneficial.
  • Replenish at Iftar: Break your fast with dates and water, following up with a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. Avoid heavy, deep-fried foods that can make you feel sluggish.

4. MODIFY YOUR TRAINING INTENSITY

  • Focus on Maintenance: The goal during Ramadan should be to maintain fitness. Opt for moderate, consistent training sessions rather than high-intensity workouts that can lead to fatigue and dehydration.
  • Incorporate Strength Training: Since you might be training less frequently, incorporate strength training to maintain muscle mass and improve muscular endurance, which can be done without taxing the body’s hydration and energy levels too heavily.

5. REST AND RECOVERY

  • Prioritize Sleep: Adjust your sleeping patterns to ensure you are getting enough rest. A lack of food and water during the day combined with altered sleep patterns can lead to fatigue.
  • Active Recovery: Incorporate active recovery days into your training schedule. Activities like light stretching or walking can aid in recovery without overly exerting the body.

6. MENTAL PREPARATION

  • Stay Positive: Mental resilience is key. Be patient with yourself and maintain a positive mindset towards your training and fasting.
  • Adjust Expectations: Understand that your performance may not be at its peak during Ramadan, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

7. CONSULT WITH PROFESSIONALS

  • Seek Guidance: If possible, consult with a coach or trainer experienced in helping athletes train during fasting periods. They can provide personalized advice based on your fitness level, goals, and health conditions.

Training for a race during Ramadan requires adjustments to your routine to accommodate the physical demands of fasting. By focusing on hydration, nutrition, adjusting training intensity, and ensuring adequate rest and recovery, you can maintain your fitness levels and even continue to prepare for upcoming races. Remember, every individual’s response to training and fasting will vary, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust as needed. “This is a major transformational month,” shares Sarah, adding “I give myself grace!”

Ramadan Mubarak from Run Calgary!

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