Running in Ramadaan
My previous boss may not have been the poster child for Islamophobiabut she surely never missed an opportunity to remind me she was connected with Salman Rushdie and had desperately tried to ‘bring him to South Africa’. She never missed the chance to tell me how she was profoundly affected by hijabisat Ushaka marine world whose abayas prevented them from going down the foofy slides (okay she had a point there but there’s more to it than just that). Another one of her favourite recollections was to tell me in each Ramadaan how she’d seen kids in the UK who’d been ‘very damaged’by fasting.
At the time, this really wound me up but I’ve recently begun to understand where her views and those of most non-Muslims come from. I hold no grudges or ill feelings towards her because the biggest agents of misinformation are Muslims themselves.
So anyway, I’ve always felt the need to prove her wrong and to prove to people that fasting not only has spiritual and physical benefits but that you really can continue with your normal daily activities. Of course it is a challenge, it is not meant to be easy and how do you gain compassion for hungry people if you yourself do not experience hunger but it is nowhere near being ‘damaging’. One of the things I’ve always tried to do was to maintain my running in Ramadaan. (Okay, don’t let that mislead you into thinking that I’ve been training religiously or anything!) I ran quite a bit after work during my first Ramadaan including squeezing in a ‘long run’ (turns out it was only 15km) as training for Soweto Marathon. Last year was slightly more disastrous but I recall I ran a 2 or 3 races of 10km, but that was my laziness. This year was grand! Although I only ran before maghrib on four occasions (they were short little runs testing my new New Balance Minimus), I ran a race every weekend (except the first weekend of Ramadaan) including running the Centurion Wierie half marathon (I had to run it, it’s in my neighbourhood and I missed it last year, I was not going to miss it again and I just had to run the full half) and the running the Vodacom 10km the day after. If memory serves me right the other runs were a 15km run and a 10km trail run. I’m not saying it was easy – at the Vodacom race for instance I really suffered in the heat, it was a 8o’clock start (there is a lot of partying north of the Jukskei and people don’t get up earlier than that) – at one point ‘the voice’ was telling me to ‘just have satchet of water, just have a coke, no one will know’, but then the other voice said, ‘dude, fasting is about self accountability too you know’…the good voice won and I all I needed to do was slow down to finish in 1:12 which I’m happy with, not thrilled, but happy. At the Centurion race, they had, can you believe it my favourite thing in the whole world: Cream Soda at one of the water tables. They never have Cream Soda at water tables, ever! I actually laughed when I saw that. But I mean that wasn’t like the end of the world.
So really, please, can my fellow Muslims please not give the impression that Ramadaan is ‘damaging’…it is a wonderful blessed time for building character not crashing down like a sack of potatoes.