Tips for Marathon Training During Ramadan

Training for a marathon is undoubtedly tough: clocking up those miles can really take it out of you, even if you’re enjoying the runner’s high from those endorphins!

This year however, as well as keeping to a tight training schedule, three time participant Raja Aslam will face an enormous additional challenge…

Raja smiled his way through the adidas Manchester Marathon last year.

Raja will enter the final stages of his training – typically when the longest continuous runs take place – while observing a strict fast. The Blackburn father-of-four will consume neither food nor water during daylight hours over the religious month of Ramadan in Muslim culture – a time of abstinence and reflection.

“This is the third time that I am training for the marathon in a fasted state, so I know what I am letting myself in for!

I am bringing some learnings on what worked well (or didn’t work) from last year, to make sure I am still able to get the most out of my training and chase down my target time of sub-4 hours”.

Check out Raja’s top tips for marathon training during Ramadan, as well as some handy F&Qs for those interested in learning more about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Man at finish line with medal

Raja’s Top Tips for Fasted Marathon Training


TIP 1. Take it steady

Give your body time to adapt by easing into running when you start your fast. If you’ve never fasted during training before, it’s advisable to take all your runs at a steady pace and drop a couple of sessions per week. The key is to  listen to your body and adjust if needed. 

TIP 2: Plan your meals

It’s incredibly useful to plan out how you will break your fast, prioritising nutritious food with a focus on protein to help repair the body and fill you up. I often start with a small bowl of dates and some fruits. Then after evening prayer, I’ll go for something like rice, shredded chicken and lots of veggies. 

TIP 3: Time it right

Find a time of day when running works for you during Ramadan. For me, I like to run in the late afternoon or evening, so that I can replenish my body by breaking my fast as soon as I get back. If I run in the morning, it’s a mental game of having to wait for food all day! That said, everyone is different. 

TIP 4: Run with a Friend

Bringing a friend along with you can make long runs – particularly those where you’re not feeling 100% – feel so much easier. Social runs help distract you from any fatigue and leave you feel you feeling more uplifted, carrying you through the rest of the day.

TIP 5: Be sleep savvy

After evening prayers, it might be 11pm when you get home – then you’re up again at 4am for morning prayer! To make sure I am as well rested as possible, I’ll organise everything I’ll need to simply hop into bed and drift off when I get back from prayer. I am also partial to a nap during Ramadan – you’ve got to sleep when you can!

Ramadan F&Qs with Raja

Q1: What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month for worship and studying holy texts such as the Quran in Muslim culture. 


Q2: Why does the date always change?

This is due to the lunar Islamic calendar following the phases of the moon. Ramadan starts with the sighting of the crescent moon and finishes when the moon is full again.


Q3: Do all Muslims fast during Ramadan?

Generally speaking, most people who are fit and healthy do fast over Ramadan. However, young or old people; pregnant or menstruating women; or those incapable of fasting do not.


Q4: How long do you fast for?

The fast lasts from dawn until sundown, when the fast is broken, often within a community setting. In total, this is roughly 13-14 hours per day.


Q5: Do you lose lots of weight during Ramadan?

Some do – personally, I often lose weight (always welcome in my case!) This may be due to my healthy diet; other family members can put on weight, as they enjoy traditional Ramadan food such as samosas and kebabs.


Q6: What else happens during Ramadan?

The beauty of Ramadan is that it is a time for personal reflection but also community. Neighbours exchange food, and many people will donate for charity during this time.


Thank you Raja for sharing your tips and experience about Ramadan. We’re so glad you love our event, and we look forward to welcoming you back for a third year!

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