On running and fasting and Ramadan

This week marks the end of Ramadan. Did you ever wonder how Muslim runners cope during the month-long fast?

Neither did I. Not until two weeks ago, when I began fasting in solidarity with our son while he is in basic training at the US Military Academy Prep School at West Point. Suddenly I wondered, “What should a runner who doesn’t eat from nine at night until five the next evening know to stay healthy and on the road?”

Who could I turn to for some advice?

First stop, the Half Marathon Runners group on LinkedIn. I posed the question and waited for replies to rush in. While I waited sipping water, I watched as a question about compression socks drew eight responses. How much can you possibly say about socks? One day passed. Two days, three, four. A guy could starve to death waiting for a sage runner to trot by on Linkedin. Nothing. I took down my question.fasting_472_343_80

Next stop: Runnersworld.com’s Nutrition & Weight Loss forum. If my issue wasn’t quite nutrition, it was certainly weight loss. Shazam! Two responses: Don’t worry, eat well at night, you’ll be fine. I felt reassured, like a man set to jump off a cliff and the bystanders, with no experience jumping off cliffs, were yelling, “Go for it!  You’ll be fine! Jump!”

That’s when it hit me. We were in the middle of Ramadan. There are 1,500,000,000 people fasting. Where better to find out something about running and fasting? So I went to MuslimRunner, a blog on “Running, Food, and Faith” by Sarah, a runner in Baltimore. There I found her July 12 post:

How to Run in Ramadan

Today on my run, a father pointed at me and shouted “She’s jogging and fasting! Look!” His whole family stared as I struggled up the hill and smiled. I prefer the term running, but at that point in the run, jogging was a complement.  I have a history of running in Ramadan.

I trained for my first race with a bunch of friends during Ramadan–The 2008 Philadelphia Half Marathon. We were all fasting. We ran together an hour before iftar, ending strategically at the dining hall. Since then, running before iftar has become routine. While no studies have been published that address whether or not it is OK to fast and run, I have found that it feels fine. Furthermore, one of the world’s experts on fasting Dr. Mark Mattson, says that fasting and running “is not only OK, but a good idea.”

I’ll let you go to MuslimRunner to get the rest of the story.

So I learned some things this week about running and about fasting and about Ramadan. Dates-for-Muslim


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