Running was something I never previously enjoyed, in fact I had never considered it to be something someone like me would ever do. My childhood consisted of little to no physical activity and I was never encouraged to do so. This continued throughout most of my life and as I grew up, my level of activeness continued to decrease. After years of being inactive, I finally decided it was time for a change and took the opportunity to join a local Couch 2 5k running group in November 2018. This was my chance to get more active and to hopefully inspire my 3 daughters. Being something completely foreign to me, I was very apprehensive to join. However, I managed to rope in a good friend of mine to join me making it more fun and less likely for me to back out.
I had no clue what I was about to face. Anxiety filled my head in the days leading up to the first session. This was going to be my first time running outside in public and just the thought of that alone was unsettling. Not to mention the fact that my head scarf made me feel even more self-conscious. I had many thoughts running through my mind, the most intimidating being the judgment of passers-by or drivers in their cars.
At first, I decided to sign up for just the one week, this was going to be a trial session for me. I was hesitant to commit more than that in case my performance was very poor. Contrary to my initial uneasy thoughts, I was given peace of mind almost immediately by the run leader and fellow runners. I came out of the first session feeling relieved and euphoric as to what I had just achieved. I felt even more proud that I did not back out, despite the weather being cold and wet. Furthermore, I was surprised that I actually felt the urge to go back the following week!
The first 5k run I completed was also my first Parkrun which I really enjoyed. I was attracted to the friendly atmosphere and commotion, as well as the inclusivity. That first 5k was a challenge for me but it was an achievement, one I never thought I would see myself accomplish. It felt even better that I was able to do it with my friend. From that day I was captivated and made the decision to attend the local Parkrun weekly. To my surprise, as I continued to attend, I became confident enough to go on my own every week. In addition to doing the Parkrun, I pushed myself to start running more often during the week. This was definitely a struggle at first, and I found it hard to set out my own front door. The lack of confidence and fear of being judged was something that I had to work on, and still continue to work on to this day.
Running empowers me. It improves my mental health, clears my mind and allows me to be proud of myself as an inspiration towards my children. I have since ran 2 half marathons, one of which was within a year of the first Couch 2 5k session, something that I did not deem possible for me to achieve. But it was this that fuelled my confidence to continue running and one day I wish to complete a full marathon. I may not be the fastest runner out there, and judging by my appearance you probably wouldn’t think I am a runner, but runners come in all shapes and sizes and from all kinds of backgrounds.
Many thanks to Rahema for sharing her story and what an inspiration to her 3 girls!
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