Running Whilst Fasting

Hi Im currently fasting during the month of Ramadhan. I know that runners fast even when they arent fasting for Ramadhan. Just wanted to know what are the reasons why runners do this and what are the benefits and risks of running whilst fasting. I still carry on running during Ramadhan and have decreased my mileage down a little to 34 miles a week. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Yousaf


  • As I understand it, religious fasting only means not eating during the day.  This is as different from real fasting as it gets.  With fasting, after about 24 hours, the body starts to clean itself out.  If you so much as eat a peanut before that time, the cleansing does not happen.

    So, you're comparing apples and oranges.

  • Mohammed, do you mean where some runners don't eat before running? For example running in the morning before breakfast? As I understand it, this is to train the body to get used to depleted glycogen stores and make it more efficient at switching and burning fat as a fuel. It is I think to mimic the energy state your body might be at the end of e.g. a marathon.
  • Running marathon in a fasted state and in line with Ramadam in line with Islamic faith. Has anyone ran the marathon on no food or no water in line with their Islamic faith? Can your body store extra water before sunrise, so it would be enough to hydrate/fuel marathon?

  • Running a marathon is impossible whilst fasting. You just wouldnt be able to do it as you wouldnt have enough energy stored in your body to do so.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    You wouldn't be able to race a marathon without eating no. Iititit doesn't mean you can't run though.  suppose you could carb load during the nights beforehand. If you don't want to push yourself you could in theory do it.

    You actually have enough energy in your body to run several marathons. Most people wouldn't be able to do that since they are not well trained enough to burn fat rather than sugar. A decent amount of trainning, some thought about nutrition and sensible pacing and I think it could be done- this isn't for beginners, clearly.

    Rather you than me though!

  • Leah im not entirely sure how runners do fasting but I know they do do it. I think they go a long time without eating like mentioned above for about 24 hours. I fast because its part of my religion. Havent done fasting for runners and i dont think i will. I think training whilst fasting for a month does help you improve for when you stop fasting. Last year when i was fasting i got 22:05 at a parkrun which was only 14 seconds off my pb. The followin week i knocked 48 seconds of my pb so think it really helped. This year i did a 5k race last wednesday in 19:15 which is only 9 seconds off my pb so I defo think I can knock well over 20 seconds off my pb for 5k. My current 10k pb isnt great but i got it whilst fasting 2 weeks ago.
  • I imagine the main problem with a marathon is the not being able to drink during the run..........

    the same with any running during your fasting period.if you can't hydrate afterwards it must be tough.......

  • Hi Mohammed, I have asked a question on the forums here before about non-faith based fasting before running. I think this technique is called Train Low. You may want to do a Google search on that to get some other answers. My understanding is the same as Princess Leah's, that it helps the body to switch to fuelling the body with fat rather than carbs and that this means that the 'Wall' is instead more like a small picket fence! With regarding to Ramadan and training / competing, the Olympics fell during Ramadan in 2012, I know that Mo Farah did not observe the fast during that time, but other athletes chose to. Again a Google search on that may provide scientific facts rather than my rambles about benefits / disadvantages!

  • Running a marathon without water or food would be a huge challenge. I would run plenty of 20 to 25 mile runs, over a 5 to 6 month build up period and increase long run by half a mile and allow 2 or 3 week taper with long runs reduced down to easier 15 to 17 miles leading up to marathon day. The conditions of the marathon would have to be ideal to minimise the risk of dehydration and sodium depletion and other health associated risks.

  • It'd be crazy to complete a marathon when fasting. This month I havent ran past 9 and a half miles because I wouldnt want to run too much as there is only so much you can run on an empty. Do runners use fasting to lose weight or get their body used to running on depleted energy levels? Or both? I think it would help in both cases as I think I will be a lot faster in my next race which is just after Ramadhan and I have lost about 5 kgs.
  • Mohammed - with respect you are talking about running without water and not running whilst fasting. Most of the guys I know who are fasting during Ramadan actually put on weight as there food intake goes up.

    If I did Ramadan I would run just before the fast is over and I could then drink and eat straight away.Simple really.

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