Training in Ramadan? No Problem.

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Some of my friends have been asking about how to train during Ramadan. The rule of thumb I follow is not to go over my 50% – 65% effort. Why? Training while fasting will be challenging due to the lack of hydration and fuel in your body. Therefore, you should not push too much, especially in the first two weeks of Ramadan, but to get yourself to adapt to your current body condition.

Suggested time to train would be ideal before breaking fast (iftar), after breaking iftar with a very light meal, after tarawih (2 – 3 hours after breaking fast with heavy meals) or just before Suhoor.

I don’t really suggest before Suhoor because you might feel hungry in the middle of the day or sleep deprivation since you have to wake up early for training before Suhoor (assuming you sleep at 11 pm after Tarawih and wake up at 4 am, which would end up leaving you with only 5 hours of sleep.)

Also, training just after Suhoor will definitely make your day much more challenging. Therefore, you are advised to choose a suitable time for you to run, according to your capability and availability. For me, the best time would be just before breaking fast, as I can drink up after completing my training and just focus on attending Tarawih and sleep adequately before Suhoor.

This is a suggested weekly training plan for anyone who has been running regularly. But, feel free to tailor it according to your effort and goal. If you have a big race coming up just after 2 weeks or less after the end of Ramadan, I suggest you keep the speedwork and long run in the plan.

When you plan to keep the speed workouts and long run, watch out for the fatigue, it might creep in a few weeks after fasting. Below training plan has one to two rest days (2nd and 6th day), but if you need more rest, please eliminate the speed workout and/or long run. I think 4 – 5 km or 30 – 40mins is sufficient to maintain your fitness level throughout Ramadhan.

Some runners in the idea of teaching your body to utilize fat instead of carbs as a fuel during the activity, but I’m not really sure how far is this true.

Some of the things you should keep in mind if you are training while Ramadan:

Stay Hydrated:  Drink more water while not fasting. Suggested to have electrolytes or recovery drink after your training while breaking fast or after your night run. Monitor your urine colour to understand your body hydration level.

While fasting and after breaking fast, your urine color might show you are dehydrated which is understandable. But during Suhoor, your urine should indicate you are adequately hydrated after breaking fast the day before, if it’s still not normal (dehydrated) you might want to increase the amount of water intake during suhoor. Bring a water bottle along while performing Tarawih and have some sip some thought the prayers.

Avoid Salty food and Caffeine: These two things might lead to dehydration.

Eat smart: We are taking fewer meals, so make it count. Try to eat complex carbs instead like brown rice or whole grains bread. Take power foods (small quantity but packed with nutrients) such as chia seeds. I drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of chia seed during Suhoor and have a lot of dates. Dates are tasty and give you energy throughout the day. Rules to remember, quality over quantity.

Last but not least, make sure you had enough rest as we might have some trouble to get 7 – 8 hours sleep time during Ramadhan!


About the Author

Azwan Bunjing

Azwan, better known as Awan Run, is an amateur athlete juggling between work and training on a daily basis. He started running seriously while studying at University Malaya. Currently, Awan is in pursuit of becoming the nation’s best distance runner and representing Malaysia one day. Awan wants you to take up running as part of your lifestyle and who knows, it might change your life.

You can reach him at https://www.facebook.com/awanrun89/