Can You Still Run During Ramadhan?

It was an interesting topic during one of my morning runs recently..."Can fasting Muslims still train during the Ramadhan period?" I wouldn't put down a hard and fast rule or either a YES or an NO. It really all depends on individuals. Read on to hear what my fellow runner Ana Fauzi has to say and also an interesting infographic by the organisers of the coming Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon.

Ana Fauzi:
Ramadhan or fasting month is a special month for Muslims. During this blessed month, Muslims are obligated to fast every day from dawn until sunset.  Fasting for the entire month is definitely not that easy. You will get tired and exhausted. However, that doesn't mean we're not able to do our normal daily activities.  I don't like the thinking that fasting will make you underperform. So usually I will try to stay active as much as I can.

Last year, I had a mission to run during fasting month. At the first attempt, I wasn't sure but I wanted to give a try. I've been training and running Double Hill (DH) route for a few months before that and I was pretty sure that I can run during Ramadhan too. So I joined TPRC friends running 10km DH on the first Saturday of Ramadhan. It was trial and error. I thought I will get exhausted by noon and will sleep the whole day but surprisingly I was not. I was fresh and active until night!

Survived on first day, so I did it for the entire month. I also tried running in the evening before breaking fast on weekdays. However, I prefer Saturday morning runs better. At any time, it's actually doable. Of course, I had to make sure I eat and hydrate well. I made sure I break fast with dates and water. I also made sure I drink a lot of water during break to stay hydrated between Tarawih prayers, after prayers and during sahur. For sahur, my meal was two half-boiled eggs, dates and lots of water. Dates and water are the most important foods for me during fasting month. I do feel that dates helped me survived after the run until Iftar (breaking fast).

By the end of Ramadhan, I've completed my mission running on all four weekends of fasting month without fail. It wasn't easy, yet it was a wonderful self-discovery. I have found that it feels fine. I truly believe that our body can stand almost anything, it’s the mind that we have to convince. As a matter of fact, I clocked my personal best at DH in 1:09 on fasting month! Feeling accomplished!! 
Pic of Ana running with us throughout the fasting month for 2013.

And if you are wondering why does Ana choose dates? From a religious angle, Prophet Muhammad has recommended that one breaks fast with dates. Scientifically, its been proven that breaking fast with dates is indeed beneficial during the fasting month.
• Dried or fresh dates naturally have high levels of sugar which can be easily absorbed by the body. This fuels the person who has been fasting the whole day and will need quick energy to enable him or her to get about performing their prayers etc.
• Dates are rich in vitamins A and B6, folic acid, potassium, natural sodium, iron, and magnesium.
• Dates are also high in fibre and can help to reduce or prevent constipation when taken with sufficient water.

Like previous years, I will be fasting as well as much as I can during the fasting month though I reckon this year will be less days since I am still trying to regain my energy and strength after my bout of illness last month. In Ana's case, its a case of determination, faith and sensible eating. In fact sensible eating as the following infographic from SCKLM shows, its possible to still train for a marathon during the fasting month. Some simple rules to remember:
• Space out the hours - running is only after 2 hours after you have had your meal.
• Run late at night or early in the morning. Avoid running during the day time.
• One should opt for quality runs rather than going for long runs.

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