One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Why do you run so much?” Usually, I’m giving a quick answer like, “I just need to do it for my sanity.” Perhaps that only confirms their suspicion that anyone who runs as much as I do must be crazy, but I don’t think most people who casually ask me that question want me to elaborate on exactly what that means or list all the reasons I run. But there are times when I don’t want to get out of bed or when I’m struggling through a particularly bad run that I have to remind myself of why exactly I get up so early every day, why I push through the difficult runs, hoping to sail through the next one.
First, to me, wearing a hijab means I'm guarding my modesty and respecting my body out of deep devotion to my faith. And having people look at me instead of my body is liberating and freeing for me as an athlete. I can focus on training and running without worrying if my pants are too tight or if my cleavage is on display. Covering is a choice I make, and I hope that people don’t judge me because of it.
I’m sure that many of the reasons that I run could apply to you as well:1. Running allows me to express my identity as a muslim women
First, to me, wearing a hijab means I'm guarding my modesty and respecting my body out of deep devotion to my faith. And having people look at me instead of my body is liberating and freeing for me as an athlete. I can focus on training and running without worrying if my pants are too tight or if my cleavage is on display. Covering is a choice I make, and I hope that people don’t judge me because of it.2. Running makes me feel empowered and resilient.
There is no greater sense of satisfaction than what you get from setting a personal goal and conquering it. The runner’s high really does exist, both immediately after a run and in the longterm—from the confidence that crossing finish lines gives you that carries over into your daily life. When you accomplish hard things, you realize that you have the strength to not let anything get you down.3. Running is the only time that I disconnect.
E-mail, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter notifications are pinging on my phone all day long. My run is the one hour a day when I am fully disconnected, even from “emergency” texts from my children. (I’ll confess that sometimes I stop to take a picture of something beautiful on my run, but I won’t check my notifications when I do that.)4. Running makes my creative juices flowing.
Everything that I deem overwhelming seems manageable after a good run. And all my best design come from long runs. I can think clearly and envision my turban design or work ideas.
5.Running is my therapist.
It allows me to voice all my insecurities and fears, and then tells me to let go of them. It helps me clear my mind and organize my thoughts.
6. Running is my cheerleader.
It listens to all my hopes and dreams and makes me feel like I’m an invincible superwoman who can accomplish all of them. It’s like the imaginary friend that I had as a child, allowing me to play out all my fantasies in my head.
7. Running is my scapegoat and my punching bag.
It allows me to curse and scream at it when I’m angry, heartbroken and disappointed; and is still there for me the next day as if nothing happened. It is that stable friend I can count on no matter how badly I treat it.
8. Running brings me community and awareness.
It has connected me with so many other runners, both in person through running groups and online. It has made me aware of the many charities that people run for, the causes that are close to their hearts and drive them towards pushing through mile after mile when it gets tough.
9. Running allows me to enjoy my food.
This doesn’t mean that I need to run to earn my calories. This means that my food actually tastes much better on the days that I run. Running makes me ravenous; it makes me thirsty; it makes me aware of what hunger is and what my body craves and needs to make it run even better. Eating disordered as comsumed my adult like and running allows me to get control of it.
10. Running is when I am most aware of my physical body.
I’m feeling air on my skin, the breath going in and out of my lungs, my muscles contracting, my heart beating in my chest. It is when I am most aware that yes, today, I am alive; I am living.