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.
17 years old
Are you a full-time athlete?
I’m a full time student… and a full time athlete.
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