Oct 17 – Part 2 – Ramadan and Training for the CrossFit Games

Last week I chatted to Taz about how he coped with having Ramadan during his CrossFit Games preparation. This week I chatted to Taz’s coach, Mark Brine, to find out how he had to adapt Taz’s training and find out how he thought Taz coped with the changes to his training schedule. Taz and Mark have a great bond, not only as Coach and Athlete, but also as great friends. Watching Mark coach Taz is a beautiful thing. Taz is so receptive and listens to everything Mark says. It’s clear that they both have great respect for each other.


Mark Brine

How do you know Taz?

I first met Taz when he was 11 years old when he came to the Pro/Am Boxing Club that I coached at alongside running my Crossfit Box. He was an excellent boxer with lots of talent and determination, at the time he had ambitions of turning pro and taking on the world but due to issues with his nose he decided to put all his energy into Crossfit.

You are Taz’s coach?

Yes, but I can’t take all the credit for Taz’s rapid rise as there is a whole team in place that have helped us both on our journey.


mark 2

Mark said it was absolutely amazing to be able to get one of his athletes to The CrossFit Games. He says that Taz’s talent was obvious very quickly as he had exceptional talent and confidence. Taz said to Mark that he would be at The Games within his first few years of CrossFit and 18 months later they were stood in Madison. Mark said his and Taz’s first few years of CrossFit have been incredible and they have learnt many things along to way. This, together with their great bond, leaves a great platform to build on for next year’s CrossFit Open. 

 How did Taz’s training change during Ramadan?

Being a non-muslim I never actually realised the commitment needed to complete Ramadan. I thought that once fast was broken then it was bed and an early rise to eat again, I was unaware of the amount of time during the night committed to praying. Once I understood this we decided that Taz could train twice, at 8pm – 9.30ish just before he broke fast and then again at 12/1am.  We split the sessions into technical, cardio and strength.

How did he cope with the changes in training?

Luckily Taz only had 2 days at college during the week so he was able to sleep all day most days to recover, once Taz got into the routine he coped fantastically and made gains that were unexpected by everyone involved.

What was the hardest thing for you as a coach?

The hardest thing for me as a coach was the limited time I had to spend with Taz. At the time I had twins that were 9 months old so I could only ever make the first sessions, however, we have a fantastic box and members joined Taz most nights to help him through.  I had to trust a process that I had never been through before so that was hard at first.

What was the hardest thing for Taz as an athlete?

Coming off Ramadan was by far the hardest part for Taz, it took much longer to get back into the normal routine of training than it did to get into Ramadan training. Taz definitely suffered a dip in training immediately after Ramadan.

mark 1

As Mark said above, Taz made gains during Ramadan that no one who was involved in the process thought would happen. It was discussed before that Taz could potentially make strength gains during this period but no one was sure how he would adapt or how his body would be affected. For Taz to make the gains he did was incredible. Mark said that Taz grew immensely as an athlete during Ramadan. Mark says that Taz matured not only as a young man but also as an athlete as he just had to get on with the process; there was no arguing or complaining. Mental strength was also a big learning curve for Taz during this time. Any athlete who is willing to train in the middle of the night and still perform above where they are expected to surely has a very strong mind and one that continued to grow as the process continued. Bearing in mind Taz is only 17 and many adults would shy away from training during the night and put themselves through what Taz did.

What does it take for an athlete to get to the Games?

Apart from the obvious ones, talent, commitment, determination, dare I say selfishness, belief in your ability, I would add that you need to know how to listen as an athlete and be coached.  Not only this you need trust, trust in your team, trust in the process and trust in yourself even when you are in that dark place questioning your own ability.

In addition to this, and I believe this is becoming more and more relevant as the sport grows, you need a coach that can feedback information to you immediately and put a plan into place to enable you to reach your full potential at the time you need to be performing your best.

Finally, you need a team behind you that covers every aspect of CrossFit training from programming, specialised coaching, nutrition and recovery.

Do you think the result for Taz would have been the same at the Games if he hadn’t have had Ramadan?

It’s hard to say, we made mistakes that I’ve learnt from and wouldn’t make again but personally I don’t think it was Ramadan why we missed our goal of making the podium.  I honestly believe that Taz would have suffered mentally if he did not go through Ramadan.  His faith is so strong that if he had trained normally and not fasted this would have affected him more than the dip he had after Ramadan finished. I don’t expect many people to understand this and many people said the Games should have been more important to Taz than Ramadan but you have to know your athlete and know how they tick to realise what will get the best from them.

After Ramadan Mark made notes about what he would change in Taz’s training and nutrition for the next year during Ramadan. Mark said that he would start the process of training during the night more progressive and introduce evening training a couple of weeks before Ramadan started giving Taz more time to adjust so it was not be such a shock on his body. Just as importantly Taz will also taper out of Ramadan more gradually as going straight into Ramadan training and out was far too harsh on Taz and his body.

After talking to both Taz and Mark it is clear that training through Ramadan takes way more planning and consideration than you may first expect. It is not as easy as keeping the same training and nutrition plan. Taz is very lucky that he has a team working around him alongside Mark to keep his programming @jst_competeprogramming and nutrition @ph_nutrition on track.

I can 100% say I have maximum respect for Taz and his ability and mental strength through Ramadan. I spent one night with Taz training and I can honestly say it was the hardest training session I have probably ever done, including my first ever CrossFit session and that is saying something! I couldn’t even link pulls-ups and I continually got wall balls to the face.


Stay tuned for part three where I talk to the owner of pH Nutrition @liamholmesnutrition to see how he and his team had to alter Taz’s nutrition to help him through Ramadan.




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Oct 17 – Part 1 – Ramadan and Training for the CrossFit Games

Getting to the CrossFit Games is a dream every competitive CrossFitter has and trains for every day. The time and dedication they commit to training and the sacrifices they make is unprecedented but what happens when ramadan occurs in the middle of your training for the CrossFit Games? One CrossFit teens athlete who knows all about this is Murtaza Nadeem (Taz). Let’s catch up with Taz to find out how his training and nutrition had to change around Ramadan and see how it affected him and built him into a stronger athlete.


Murtaza Nadeem


17 years old


British Afghan

Are you a full-time athlete?

I’m a full time student… and a full time athlete.

taz 2

Taz describes training for the CrossFit Games as one of the best experiences of his life although it was tough and he learnt many lessons along the way. Lessons that he can use to help him improve and make him a stronger athlete this year going into the CrossFit Open and smaller competitions he is taking part in.

How was it training for the CrossFit Games and being in Ramadan?

Training at night time during Ramadan wasn’t too hard. I was lower on energy than usual but overall the training was fine. The transition back to normal was not easy however. It took me a while to get back into feeling right when I started training during the day again.

Did training feel it was going as well as when you were not on Ramadan?

No. It felt good as I made gains but it was not the same as training like normal.

What did you find the hardest?

I found eating the hardest because the amount of time I had to get all my food in was short, I struggled to eat what I needed to eat as it just would not go down.

Taz has been working with me (Lucy) from pH Nutrition for a while now on building better nutritional habits and maximising his training by being fuelled with the right foods at the right time. During Ramadhan it was my job to make sure that Taz was having enough food to sustain his training but also to keep him fuelled for school during the day. This was no easy task as we had many stumbling blocks along the way such as those mentioned above by Taz. Due to the short period of time Taz had to eat and how hard he was finding it to consume the amount of food necessary, we decided to introduce some smoothies to make vital nutrient consumption easier. This was a vital change for us as Taz was often feeling bloated and suffered stomach pains. When working with an athlete on an individual basis is imperative to find what works for them and what they are experiencing at that specific time. I spoke to Taz on a daily basis to make sure that he was doing OK and made changes as and when they were needed.



What was easy, if anything?

Nothing. Training was hard and the fasting was hard but that’s what it takes to get fit so that’s what I did.

Did people train with you or were you on your own?

I was never alone. Usually there were a few gym members who trained with me just to make sure it was not boring but when no one else was around, my dad always came.


Tom, Liam and I (the pH Nutrition team) also joined Taz one night for training to see what it was like and to see how Taz coped. When working with an athlete during a trying time it is very important to us as a team to support our athletes and experience what they are going through so that we can really make sure that their nutrition is the best it possibly can be. By training during the night with the athlete we are also able to notice things from an outside point of view that an athlete does not always notice.

When you were training and finding the midnight metcons hard what were you thinking?

I’m not sure really, I can’t remember. However, I do know that the harder it is then the better it is. So whenever it feels hard I usually look up at my name on the wall and remind myself of where I’m going.

Do you think you grew in mental toughness over this period?

Yes. It was something I was not sure I could do so having done it, I now know I can do it for all the years to come.

Did you have to alter your training at all during this time?

I trained cardio and metcons during the night and strength and accessories by dawn. I did not change much else other than lowering the volume whenever I felt I did not have enough strength and energy.

Was there anything you couldn’t do?

No. I can do anything.

What would you change next year?

Hmmm. Not too sure but I might try to eat more than I did this year.

Do you think the result at the games would have been any different if you had not have had Ramadan?

Maybe, but it does not matter because that is just how it is and nothing can be done. If Ramadhan is before the Games in the future then I will do the same. I will work with what I have and make the most of it.

Any other comments

pH nutrition ROCKS! And I have huge biceps.


Make sure you stay tuned for my next blog where we catch up with Taz’s coach Mark Brine to see how it was coaching an athlete to the CrossFit Games and through Ramadan



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Oct 17 – Paleoethics

Finding vegan or dairy free supplements can be hard sometimes especially when you are not sure of the quality or how they are going to taste. I have tried many different vegan and dairy free products that are on the market – some have been ok but not mixed well some tasted like grit and some were just vile. This was until I tried using PALEOETHICS.


PALEOETHICS offer a range of vegan and dairy free products which cover a broad spectrum of areas – from recovery, to pre- workout, greens and even a protein tea (I can’t get enough of this). Each product has been created with ingredients to maximise its purpose.

REBUILD RECOVER – is one of my favourite post workout products by Paleoethics. Not only does it contain a dairy free protein substitute, beef protein, but it contains hydrating properties from coconut water which is essential after a sweaty session. When taking rebuild you will be getting your post workout carbs from sweet potato powder. Too many recovery products are full of sugary and poor quality carbohydrate sources so having sweet potato is a very innovative way of adding carbs to a post workout shake. Rebuild also contains my favourite ingredient beet juice helping to reduce inflammation and increasing nitrates aiding overall health and exercise performance.

recovery re build

GREENS – Paleoethics greens powder for me is one of the best on the market at the moment. It contains multiple ingredients that can help enhance overall health and wellness. This is particularly important when your body is put under high intensity training every day. Paleoethics greens contains spinach, kale, spirulina, chlorella, broccoli and parsley powder to name a few. Each ingredient has been picked carefully for its micronutrient properties and effects they have on the body in helping recovery and boost your immune system.

paleoethics - greens

SUPER SERUM – If you are looking for a dairy free protein with high protein content then super serum is the one for you. I have tried many beef proteins in the past and I have always experienced bloating from them this however was not the case with super serum. RESULT! Super serum mixes well and has a very smooth taste and is excellent for adding to pancakes or making into a moose for a late evening snack. Due to its low carbohydrate content super serum is very good for those who want a dairy free protein and are looking to lose weight.

super serum

PALEO RECOVERY MATRIX – If like me you find it hard sometimes to not snack in the evening then recovery matrix is the perfect solution. Recovery matrix is a protein tea that looks after that sweet evening craving. Simply mix the powder with hot water and ta da you have your tea. Now the winter nights are setting in recovery matrix is an amazing solution to helping curb sweet cravings whilst providing vital nutrients to improve recovery. It is perfect to have after an evening training session as it contains magnesium and zinc which help to promote muscle recovery and reduce stressors in the body.

tea zma

Alongside those mentioned above Paleoethics have multiple other products which are full of amazing ingredients and very beneficial when paired with training and a great diet. These products will be reviewed in a later blog.

For more information visit Paleoethics website

15% discount code phnutrition15


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