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Moe Sbihi on the Ramadan Road to Rio

This week we were lucky enough to catch up with the super fast rower, Moe Sbihi, who is on the road to Rio with Team GB. The 28-year-old British Moroccan is not fasting this year as his Olympic training has coincided with the holy month, but he has spent previous years fasting throughout Ramadan. We were desperate to find out how such vigorous training was compatible with the difficult fasting hours.

How do you resist temptation during Ramadan?

When I’m training and fasting, all I want to do is drink water. For a month, we are tested and it’s not meant to be easy. I’m quite driven and, therefore, resisting the temptation becomes a challenge that I relish.

The feeling you get when you eventually break the fast at maghreb (sunset) is one of the most beautiful in the world. Nothing comes close. So why spoil it by not resisting the temptations you have throughout the day?

What are your Ramadan distractions?

Training is my biggest distraction. It is key to winning a gold medal at Rio. So when I’m fasting, the days seem to fly by because my day is filled with loads of training sessions.

I also love to listen to music, especially when I’m at the gym lifting weights and on the rowing machine. So trying to not listen to music during Ramadan is very hard.

What are your tips for staying motivated during Ramadan?

Stay motivated by setting yourself little goals throughout the month. For instance, one target I like is getting to the last seven days. Then my dad and I will say, “We won’t be fasting on the same day again”.

Making sure you are friendly and charitable to those around you and others is key too. It’s a huge motivation for me. We are sacrificing for a few hours a day and it’s easy to forget about those who don’t have as much.

What is a typical day like for you during Ramadan?

So a typical day is to wake up before suhoor / dawn to get my food ready. When I’m training I have to eat a lot of food and roughly two litres of fluids. Then it’s off to bed for an hour or two, as I’m up for training at 6am. This is easier said than done. I feel like I’m pregnant or a water balloon!

The first gym session lifting weights is followed by a second breakfast. In Ramadan, I still sit with the guys and make sure I’m being a part of the team. The next session is on the water and it’s continuous for about another two hours. This is the tough one. It’s the middle of the day and I’m getting thirsty and hungry. The last session is on the rowing machine. The end is in sight so I actually find this easier to manage. The other guys often can get annoyed that I’m messing around at this point and still getting better scores!

Then home time. A quick shop at the supermarket… the most dangerous food shopping trip ever. You want everything! But I like to get something special for that day. It’s a habit I picked up while fasting back home in Morocco.

A couple of hours to kill, then nap time! I have to get the sleep in otherwise I’m not recovering.

What food to do recommend eating during iftar?

I like dates and milk. Simple and nutritious. Then the next best thing is a soup called harira. It’s a Moroccan speciality and traditional for Ramadan. We go mad for it. But it’s packed full of energy. If this is not available, I like to have a soup of some sort.

Then I like to relax and get a cold drink. I read that Vimto sales go through the roof in Ramadan and I’m not surprised. Nothing feels as good as drinking something cold and sweet.

How do you think you’ll change most during Ramadan?

My routine changes the most. Between days 10 and 20 I start to adapt to the fasting and training. It is then that my body and mind start to feel stronger.

We wish Moe Sbihi the best of luck at the 2016 Summer Olympics!

 

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