Tough Mudder Survival Kit for the Muslim woman

In my last post I told you all about my experience taking on Tough Mudder. In this post I want to give you my opinion on the kind of kit I think other Muslim women should wear if they’re thinking of taking on Tough Mudder or a similar mud run event. So here goes…

  • A tight waterproof one piece headscarf
  • A second tight waterproof one piece headscarf that can be tied on to you to change into after water obstacles – the cold water blocks up in your ears under the scarf
  • Expensive quality leggings and t-shirt
  • The lightest weighing trainers you can find
  • A fleece hoody
  • Sports gloves
  • A sports bra
  • Cotton high leg or shortie knickers

 

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Ayesha’s Tough Mudder Story

I got down on my knees, closed my eyes and inhaled what only seemed like a life-size tub of Vicks Vapo-Rub. Never in my life had I ever screamed so much profanity as I wriggled my way through the tightest and muddiest of tunnels. I tried so hard to keep my mouth shut and hold my breath, ‘anything’ I thought, to keep the immense amount of menthol vapour that was blasted in my face from winning over me.  And that, was just one of twenty-nine staggering obstacles I overcame during my Tough Mudder experience.

I’m one of those ‘on and off’ types when it comes to hitting the gym. My twenty pounds a month subscription doesn’t often show much return, but I refuse to give it up – I need it to keep me going emotionally. When I’m there, I’m good. I feel strong. I feel empowered.

I was working in Corporate Communications for a company that went on to sponsor Mini Mudder, the kids’ version of Tough Mudder in the Summer of 2015. My colleague managed to secure free tickets (normally up to £90) for a set number of us to take part. When I was initially asked if I wanted volunteer I laughed and said ‘yeah sure’ without even thinking about it. Then came the day that I discovered my name was down on the official list. ‘Crap’, I thought, ‘I’m not fit enough for this!’ But anyone who knows me well enough knows two things about me; I’m always up for a crazy challenge and I love defying the stereotype of a Muslim woman. And I was the only Muslim here, I had to do this for my women. Continue reading “Ayesha’s Tough Mudder Story”

No different from the next runner

Nice article on the ParkRun website:

22-year-old university student Namrah Shahid had never run before taking part in Woodhouse Moor parkrun for the first time last April.

By her own admission she was instantly hooked, and Namrah is now working with Leeds University to encourage other female Muslims to take part in physical activity by breaking down some of the barriers that stand in their way.

When it comes down to it, the key difference between being a hijabi runner (wearing a Muslim female head covering) and any other runner is simply the dress code. As a hijabi runner I am no different from the next runner, but yet female Muslims are enormously underrepresented in running events and organised physical activity in general.

Read the article in full here: http://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2017/02/03/no-different-to-the-next-runner/

 

Trial and tribulations

Luton Islamic Centre, located in the heart of Bury Park, is a hive of activity. Daily there are study classes open to men and women. On Saturday nights volunteers from the mosque serve soup to the homeless on Luton’s streets. The prayer hall, meanwhile, regularly overflows with aid supplies, ready to be dispatched to the desperate and destitute in war-torn Syria. And while many other mosques turn women away at the front door, this one welcomes them, inviting them to participate in the religious life of the community. Continue reading “Trial and tribulations”

How to Choose the Right Sports Hijab

Fitness requires the utmost comfort and what that means is being comfortable in your fitness attire. If you are a hijabi, comfort and safety in sports are equally important. To get the best fitness experience in a hijab, there are a 3 key areas you need to remember :  Fabric, Safety, Design Continue reading “How to Choose the Right Sports Hijab”

Kishy’s Marrakech Half Marathon

This is a guest post by Kishwar Willoughby. Enjoy!

On the 31st January 2016 I completed my first half marathon — all 13 miles of it — in the sunnier climes of north Africa. I was taking part in the Marrakech Marathon with fellow supporters of Human Appeal.

This is not something I would normally do. It was quite out of the ordinary to be honest, being the mother of two boys under 5, and I really didn’t have time to go out walking anywhere let alone train.

My mother passed away just over 10 years ago, when I was 16 years of age. Each day, every memory comes to me; as a child it’s natural to want to do everything for your parents. That’s where my volunteering started at Human Appeal. I saw the lives that Human Appeal International had changed and with that I wanted and intended to build a water well in the memory of my late dear mother, specifically in a poverty-stricken country, where people struggle to access clean water.

The thought of doing this for a good cause — as well as being a way of sending sadqa jariya ahead — was what motivated me to take on this massive challenge of running a half marathon. But I also wanted to show people that anything is possible for a woman and mother — and hopefully inspire them too.

As you can imagine juggling motherhood responsibilities with preparation for a marathon was not easy; more so as a single parent, as I needed to balance my training with the needs of my children. Alhamdullilah, I made it work, training twice a week. Indeed every training run made me more and more determined to complete my challenge.

What made me even more determined was my desire to prove that women can be fit and run marathons for charity, as well as being a stay-at-home mum! So that’s exactly what I did!

After weeks of training I finally completed the Marrakech Half Marathon in a tiring 2 hours and 58 minutes! It was a challenge, but I wanted to push myself running through the beautiful scenery of Marrakech. The sun was beaming down all day, with not a cloud in sight! Alhamdullilah, I did it!

The support system from everyone was brilliant; we even had our own little Human Appeal fan club cheering us on! I met many new people from around the world. Our short stay was truly an extraordinary experience! Alhamdullilah, I completely met my fundraising target. I’m proud to say that the work of building the water well in Senegal will now begin.

Women’s Winter Walk to Malham Cove

interpal-malham-coveThe winter walking season is well and truly upon us, keeping our limbs supple despite the icy chill. Gone are the days of sheltering indoors in the warmth of home: challenges call us, begging us to forgo comfort for a little while in order to support those less fortunate than ourselves.

So sisters pull on those winter scarves and extra layers; pull on that warm coat, walking shoes and gloves. The Yorkshire Dales — our little piece of paradise on earth — begs your company. It’s time to head for nature’s amphitheatre at Malham Cove, marching across open fields and by fast-flowing streams. Embrace the sisterhood and join Interpal’s Palestine Winter Walk, raising funds for destitute Palestinians.

In these times of political chaos, a walk in the countryside will be just what the doctor ordered. Reflect on the majesty of Allah and His creation as you head on over spongy grass, beneath leafless trees. Revel in good company. Feel refreshed and invigorated in the cold winter air. Work up a sweat and feel alive once more.

Malham Cove is a huge curved cliff formation of limestone rock, 260 feet high. It affords brilliant views down the dale towards Malham and beyond; no wonder it has been the source of inspiration for many an artist and author for centuries. Limestone pavements are a feature of Malham Cove and surrounding areas. The clints and grykes foster a unique eco-system for rare wild flowers and ferns.

This winter walk in support of Palestine is for women and girls only. Registration costs just £15, but you will need to try to raise £100 sponsorship from your friends and family. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy beautiful sisterhood whilst enjoying some of the most breath-taking scenery England has to offer.

This sponsored walk takes place on Saturday 23rd January 2016, 8am till 3pm, with transport available from Bradford and Dewsbury. Invite your friends and family to take part, and make a day of it. Once you have tasted the countryside of Britain, you’ll crave it time and again. The wilds are calling.

To register or find out more, please call 01274 656985 (Bradford) or 01924 466668 (Dewsbury).

Keeping Fit Without Compromising Modesty

AM Active by Greg Goodale_93-EditIt seems that hardly any of us are as fit as we should be, these days. Islam encourages a healthy approach to all aspects of life spiritual, mental and physical so it’s entirely permissible for women to exercise; the problem is that many Muslim women feel uncomfortable exercising in public. Western sportswear is often quite revealing, and some sporting activities can feel like a threat to modesty.

Not so long ago, I went to a gym and saw a woman trying to work out in a full Sawar Kamez. While I could sympathize, and knew exactly why she was doing it–she wanted to get fit, without compromising her religion–I could also see how dangerous what she was doing was. What if some of the loose fabric caught in the mechanisms of the machines she was using? She could have had a terrible accident. It got me to thinking about how Muslim ladies could stay healthy without worrying about either exposing themselves, or injuring themselves.

Four Ways of Keep Fit without Compromising Modesty

1. Ask at your local gym if they have any ladies only sessions. Most will.  There’s a big market for all female exercise classes, whether swimming, aerobics, spin classes, or simply using the gym equipment. If your local gym doesn’t offer anything, why not get a group of friends together and suggest that they do? Most businesses are keen to attract new customers, so you could be helping them out too.

2. Try exercising outdoors. You don’t necessarily need to go to a gym to get fit; a good walk or a jog can be a brilliant way to get your heart beating and your muscles working. If you have kids, pushing a pram up a hill is almost as good a gym session!

AM Active by Greg Goodale_100-Edit3. Find some modest sportswear. I had great difficulty doing this, so I made my own! OK, so not everyone can just go out and produce their own line of active clothing; it was something that I’m passionate about, so I spent a lot of time working on the design and it’s finally now gone into production. Anah Maria Active currently offers tracksuits, hijabs and a sports coat, but we’ll soon be launching outdoor kit and swimwear. The trick is to deliver loose-fitting garments that are still comfortable to wear and don’t get in the way of your activities.

4. Try exercising at home. If you’re really uncomfortable exercising in front of others, you could try investing in some home exercise equipment. It’s nowhere near as expensive to buy an exercise bike as it used to be, and you can pick up a balance ball for as little as £10. Anything you can do is better than nothing, so why not just give it a try?

Imam Ali once said, “Better than abundance of wealth is the health of the body.” I agree with that completely. Sure, you can do a lot of things if you’ve got the cash to splash; but you can’t buy good health: that’s something that you have to do for yourself, and trust that Allah will help you.

Checkout the new modest active range from Anah Maria at Anahmaria.com.

RunFit 12 Week Challenge: Men vs. Women

AMRC Group photo

The Atlanta Muslim Running Club (AMRC) is a running club based in Atlanta in the US state of Georgia. It started with few runners getting together to encourage, inspire, and motivate Muslims in the Atlanta area to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The club is open to both men and women and meets every Sunday morning for a group run. AMRC started with just a few people, but has rapidly grown to 200+ members since the inaugural run last August. Our group runs consists of 3-5 miles, with runners ranging from beginners walking to experts running all the way.

Running gets challenging during the winter season due to the cold mornings. To encourage runners to keep fit during the winter, we started a 12 week RunFit Challenge. To make it more interesting we divided our runners into two teams: men and women. The RunFit Challenge was designed to enable everyone, no matter their fitness level, to take part and complete the challenges. There were three challenges per week: a Social Media, Fitness and Running challenge.

AMRC Social Media ChallengeThe Social Media challenge was to encourage runners to discuss and share information about physical fitness on social media like Facebook. Some examples of a Social Media challenge include posting a picture of their running sneaker one week and then posting their goals another week.

The Fitness challenge consisted of exercises to strengthen the upper body, legs, knees, gluts, etc. which are all needed to keep oneself injury-free whilst running. Some examples of fitness challenges were completing 200 push-ups, planking for a total of 10 minutes for the week, and 3 sets of 20 lunges twice a week.

AMRC Group photo

The Running challenges consisted of running a few miles at the beginning of our RunFit Challenge to running 10 miles for the week with the goal of completing a non-stop 5k by the end of 12 weeks. We also gave bonus points for attending our weekly Sunday morning group run and participating running events such as a 5K or 10K.

The team with the highest points after 12 weeks would win the RunFit challenge with the bragging rights of being better than the other gender. Our 12 week RunFit challenge recently ended with the Women’s team beating the Men’s team. We had 58 members participating and now they are eager to start another challenge.

The 12 week RunFit challenge was competitive and fun at the same time. In the course of 12 weeks many have joined AMRC who never ran before and now they love to run and meetup for our weekly Sunday group run. They feel great after the run, feel more energetic, and many accomplished their long time goal of completing a race. We had members come out and join group run in mid-30 degree weather just so they can gain points for their team.

The AMRC goal is to get more Muslims into physical fitness so we can live better and healthier, inshallah. To find out more about AMRC or to find out how you could start a similar group in your area, please visit our Facebook page.

 

From D- to A+: One Running Girl’s Journey

This is a guest post by Kanza…small reflections on her big journey from mattress to marathon!

“I can’t run…you’re so committed and good at it and I can barely walk a kilometer without wanting to collapse…”

These were the words uttered by a friend when I asked her to consider joining me in a 5k race for fun awhile back. At the time we both chuckled and then the conversation moved on…but later that night I sat down and reflected on her words and suddenly the enormity of my own running journey hit me.

I am Kanza and I have run fifteen 10k races, have two 8.5mile race medals and am currently training for my very first half marathon in Birmingham this October in which I will be raising money for Islamic Relief’s #Running4Gaza campaign Inshallah. I also ran over 15km last night…for fun…and will soon be training with the Birchfield Harriers in Birmingham (the same team that Olympic gold medalist, Denise Lewis trained with).

But wait!! Before you decide to stop reading…let me tell you more about the real me….

I am also the same Kanza, the girl whose school report for PE, year on year, recorded an A- for effort but a D+ for physical skill. In a nutshell I was keen on sports and running but the teachers also knew I was completely and utterly rubbish! Yes I was that girl who wanted to be the committed cross country runner but couldn’t walk a kilometer without wanting to collapse. I was the kid that no one wanted on their team and would inevitably be the last person to be picked for a team simply because the reluctant team captain had no choice! I was the teen, with knock knees who would almost always end up falling over whilst trying to run because her knees were turned inward and would bash against each other and trip her up when attempting to run.

But now fast forward to 15 years later and here I am running for fun, playing sport for fun and somehow along the way I became good at it…at an age where sports people are often considered past their prime!

So how on earth did that happen?

The purpose of this post wasn’t to boast but to share my journey from my mattress to marathon. I hope that my journey encourages others. Many girls out there will probably identify to some extent with the second description of me, but very few will be able to imagine that they too can become the sporty version. But I promise you that Inshallah you can…and here’s just a few tips to get you started:

1. Move your mind

Nope that is not a typo…the biggest hurdle people think they have to overcome when wanting to start running is often considered to be the body but actually the real obstacle is your mind. The little voice that says “No not today it’s cold” or “Maybe I can run tomorrow” – (yes you know which voice I am talking about !) Well that voice needs to be silenced! The best way to do it is to make a firm intention to go out and do that run (even it if just 100 metres or just one lap round your back garden). Stick it in your diary as an appointment and make sure you keep it! Stick post-it notes on the mirror to remind you, alerts on your phone, put your running trainers somewhere visible, etc. All these (not so) subtle cues within your environment will set your mind in gear and prepare it for the physical challenge.

2. Accept you will find it really hard at first

The first time you attempt to run you will probably have grand visions of it feeling easy…but I will be honest with you…it won’t be…you will wobble, you will feel horribly out of breath very quickly, and you will wonder how on earth does a brother like Mo Farah make it look so darn easy? But hey, that’s ok! The first time I tried to run, I honestly barely managed a kilometer before I was sick in the park (classy I know!) But you know what? Even if you only manage 100 metres…that’s more than the person still lying on their mattress! And that my friend…is a small achievement to give you a boost! Which leads me nicely to my next tip…

3. Don’t give up

Yes those first few runs will be hard and you will wonder why on earth you’re putting yourself through it, but have patience and persevere – I promise it gets better! In my own personal experience it took 2 months of running twice a week (Saturday and Sunday) before I managed to see the benefits…my 100 metre runs became 5kms, I had more energy, felt healthier and weirdly, I felt strange if I didn’t go out for a run…we are creatures of habit…as long as we repeat the task a few times, our mind and body expect us to continue. Even if you only run once a week for a couple of hundred metres – keep it up – it is better than nothing!

4. Find a buddy

Running is always easier if you have someone to keep you company…that may be a friend who runs along with you or maybe the dulcet tones of Maher Zain on your ipod as you plod! If none of your friends want to run, then consider joining the park runs or the Great Run training runs in your local park (the latter have female only running groups too which cater for all running speeds). Both of these are free to join and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends and get fit!

5. Chart your progress

Nowadays we all tend to have smart phones…and the great thing is you can use them to help you become fit. There are plenty of running apps (MapMyRun, Nike+Running, Strava etc) you can download to log your progress. Or simply keep a note in your diary of your running achievement…how far you ran, where you ran, how you felt etc. If you are trying to lose weight then make a note of your weight and body size before you start running and chart your monthly progress…charting your progress will be a key step to keeping you motivated and to keep you going.

If like me you’re at a D- in sport…remember it doesn’t have to be that way foreveryou can change it! So there we have it…my first five tips to get you off your mattress and running a marathon (well maybe at least a few metres anyhow!) Practice makes perfect Inshallah! 

Feel free to leave comments about your progress – I would love to know how you all get on! If there are any particular running queries or theories you want to chat about – drop me a message and Inshallah I can try and blog about it for you!

But for now I pray everyone out there has a safe and beautiful running journey of their own – Ameen

Wasalaam

Kanza

Author’s Background

Away from running, in her day job Kanza is a Public Health Specialty Registrar and in her spare time is the Head of Sports and Well-being for the Living Islam Festival 2016. Her #Running4Gaza fundraising page is here: https://birminghamhalfmarathon2015.everydayhero.com/uk/kanza

Muslim Hands Crawl of Duty

Muslim Hands Scotland presents, Crawl of Duty: a 5K assault course to test your strength and stamina.

Join Muslim Hands as they embark on this obstacle packed mission to raise money for their Emergency Fund to support crises in Iraq, Palestine and Central Africa. Test your ability to the max and fuel your inner adrenaline to its peak as you fight for survival. From crawling through tunnels to jumping over walls and facing the ice cold water, you’ll be pushing yourself to the limit.

This gender segregated challenge (separate tracks for men and women) takes place at the Scottish Adventure Centre, Craufurdland Castle, Fenwick, East Ayrshire. If you live in Scotland or the north of England, this is a challenge not to be missed!

crawlofduty-poster

Book your place today: https://muslimhandsuk.wufoo.eu/forms/crawl-of-duty/