Running in Ramadan – Recommendations and My Training Routine

Wishing fellow runners a blessed Ramadan. The holy month is a unique time of the year, it is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and worship. For runners who observe Ramadan, it is important to remember to maintain a balance during the holy month, and that their training will definitely be affected during the month. I (Omar) will be sharing here my own training routine in Ramadan along with tips.

Key considerations for training in Ramadan:

The key factors that we need to take into consideration are the sunrise and sunset/iftar times, prayer times, nutrition, rehydration, recovery and sleep.

Sunrise, sunset/iftar and prayer times: This year, we will be fasting for about 14-hours a day (For the Imsakehyah/prayer times: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/ramadan-time-table-uae).

For nutrition, portion and quality control for iftar and suhoor are important, and  aim to reduce the intake of sugar, heavy food, fizzy beverages and caffeine.

Listen to your body, take a longer time to recover between workouts if you feel you are low on energy, get as much sleep as possible (power napping can help).

What’s my training routine like during Ramadan?

  • In the first couple of days, I tone down my training to give the body time to adjust to the fasting hours.
  • On easy days: Light cardio before Iftar (walking, light jogging or spinning in the gym).
  • On days I need to do speed training in midweek: I’d do it at least 3 to 4 hours after Iftar as I would have had enough time to digest, rehydrate and pray.
  • For the long weekend runs: I normally limit them in Ramadan to 14-16k, and do them 3-4 hours after Iftar if time permits. Sometimes I’d run even later than that at night.
  • Once or twice a week I’d do some light strength training exercises in the gym or at home, or I’d play a very laid back game of football with friends.

Personally speaking, I would never be able to work out in the morning while fasting, but I know fellow amateur athletes who can even do hard runs or put in hard workouts in the gym in the morning and still fast the entire day with no problems whatsoever.

I would highly discourage doing a hard intervals session at 7pm for example (which is shortly after Iftar time). Again, some runners might be okay with this, but I personally recommend against it, since you’d      barely have any food and water in your system.

Any recommendations for racing in Ramadan?

If you are keen on racing:

  • Sign up to a night race.
  • Have a light iftar (call it a ‘first dinner’), and hydrate well.
  • Race responsibly, pay close attention to how your body is feeling.
  • Hydrate well and have a proper meal (‘second dinner’) after the race.

Parting thoughts:

What I tell myself: Be realistic about your targets, and remember that maintaining the same high level of training and mileage is not easy in Ramadan for everyone. Take it easy on yourself if you feel that you do not have the same energy levels and/or the time, and take advantage of the time to try and recharge your batteries for the upcoming season.

For non-Muslims, this is a useful Ramadan guide provided by the UAE Government: https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/public-holidays-and-religious-affairs/ramadan

Please keep in mind the Covid-19 restrictions in Dubai (they do not have a major impact on runners this year thankfully):  https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/government/uae-announces-covid-19-safety-measures-for-ramadan-as-country-crosses-50-per-cent-vaccination-mark-1.1185373

Photo credit: @faris.atawi on Instagram