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/

 

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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.

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.

 

Insane Eid for Orphans in Need

This is a guest post by Shokat Zaman, Fundraising Officer at the award-winning charity, Orphans in Need.

Straight after Eid on Sunday 27 September, Orphans in Need will be taking part in Insane Terrain Part II. As the title suggests, this follows on from Insane Terrain Part I, which I participated in back in April this year.

Participants have the option of choosing either the 5k or 10k runs. Opting to err on the side of caution, we chose the 5k run, which by the end of the race, proved to be plenty!

My experiences of that day are still fresh in my mind. We started the day with a lovely early morning drive heading up from London to Peterborough, past the lovely Cambridgeshire countryside, before being guided onto a grassy area, which served as a makeshift car park for the run. It was difficult not feel uneasy at the sight which greeted us as we left the car, which was a large group athletic looking guys crumble to their knees, panting for breath. We quickly walked past them after making sure they were alright, eager not to tamper our excitement at the prospect of overcoming this awesome challenge.

insane

After being given a five-minute warm-up by a guy who bore a strong resemblance to the Drill Instructor from ‘Full Metal Jacket’, we made our way to the start line. The crowd who were there to watch us from the sidelines were a bright and cheerful bunch, quick to give their friends and family members taking part words of advice; “Have you warmed up properly, mate?”. “Pace yourself, don’t go running ahead of the pack from the start” said another.

The Orphans in Need crew came together in a huddle, giving ourselves a mini pep-talk before the start of the race. After a few brotherly hugs, we stood – arms akimbo- toes on the start line. As the horn sounded to signal the start of the run, many of us for whom this was a first experience, couldn’t help but smile through the first 100 metres.

After clambering up giant haystacks and wading through ankle deep streams of water which cut across the forest track, some of us made the decision to part company with the group. It was a pragmatic decision based upon careful consideration of the facts; we were tired!

The real sticking point came when our team members Mohammed and Hamza came across a big body of water stacked with a series of small sponge steps which we were expected to jump from one to the other without stopping, lest they fall into the water. After successfully navigating this particular challenge, Humza decided to pull Mohammed back and into the water. Mohammed was quick minded enough to pull Humza in with him, to hoots of laughter from all around.

By the time we reached the finishing line, having navigated our way through zip wires in the forest and balancing poles, we topped it off by sliding across a 30ft water slide being sprayed with fairy liquid. Yes we were tired, cold, wet and caked in mud, but we all felt we had achieved something that day. We pushed ourselves to the limit not because we had to, but because we chose to. In the end, it wasn’t tiredness that we felt, but an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction.

If you’d like to help me accomplish this daunting but rewarding challenge, please donate towards my sponsorship by visiting:

https://www.justgiving.com/Shokat-Zaman2

For further information or if you’d like to take part in our upcoming Insane Terrain challenge on 27 September 2015, please visit the Orphans in Need website. Free transport will be provided from London and Birmingham.

Getting the most out of your Mud Run

This is a guest post by Yatie Nadzli , sharing 20 helpful tips on getting the most out of your Mud Run. Earlier this year, Yatie took part in the Viper Challenge, Asia’s biggest obstacle course event.

1. Form a team of fabulous teammates and prepare to have fun!

Continue reading Getting the most out of your Mud Run

Insane Terrain II for Orphans in Need

Hold onto your hats: this is going to cheer you up. Orphans in Need have a fabulous challenge lined up for you this September: their perfectly muddy off road obstacle course race, Insane Terrain, is back, spanning either 5km or 10km (your choice).

Taking place on 27 September near Peterborough, it’s a sponsorship event designed to help build a safe and loving orphanage providing holistic care for 150 orphans in Kashmir. Every pound that you raise by taking on this challenge will go towards making this vision a reality.

For more information, visit their Insane Terrain web page and sign up today. This is definitely a date for your diary!

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