How to Run & Fast During Lent


Today marks the Catholic start of Lent.

Leading up to Easter, the most holy of Catholic days, sacrifice is to be had.

Beginning with Ash Wednesday and for the 40 days and 40 nights prior to Easter, focus is on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. This includes fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as abstaining from meat on Fridays.

For the runners who are not accustomed to worrying about meal timing in relation to running, here’s what you need to consider:

Who fasts?

According to Canon Law, anyone between the ages of 18-59 in good health are required to fast.

How does this fast work?

On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday practitioners are allowed one full meal and one or two meatless snacks during the day.

What’s the best practice for this fasting routine and running?

Intermittent fasting is an actual practice for many people as it offers many health benefits. Most typically they push breakfast back from early in the morning to later morning.

During the Lent fast, you must simply find what works best for you.

On a regular day, you may have a light breakfast, go for a run, and have a snack afterwards. Or perhaps you run on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and eat a full breakfast afterwards. Maybe your schedule has you running after work, which means prior to this run you likely ate two full meals plus a snack or two. All are far cries from Lent.

My suggestions

For most people not accustomed to fasting, I would recommend a number of considerations.

  1. Don’t do a key workout or hard run the day before fasting. The day after a hard run is typically meant for recovery, adaptation, rebuilding. It’s certainly not ideal to restrict calories and nutrients during this time.
  2. You also should probably not do a hard workout the day of a fast, as you may not have the fueling to have a good workout or recover well from it the rest of the day.
  3. I would hold off on eating until you need to eat. You’ll find that if you make it through that initial “I’m really hungry” morning period, the hunger diminishes or goes away. Stay busy, the hungry will typically pass.
  4. If you run in the morning, I’d do it fasted without food and then have a snack afterwards. Make sure the snack includes protein and fat, both of which may help keep you more satisfied.
  5. For the evening runners, try not to eat your meal too close to the start of your run as you don’t want to overeat and pay for it during your run. Having your large meal during lunch or dinner after the run will be good timing.

Bonus: No Meat?

What does a vegetarian eat if they don’t eat meat? Everything else. 

During this time when you’re also limited on the amount of meat you can eat, you may be at a bit off a loss of what to include.

This could be a fun time to experiment with fake meat, try some tofu, or just throw more vegetables into your dinner! Prepare meatless meals that you’ve never made before, make it fun!

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