Tazneem was looking for a way to get fitter and healthier after having her three children. Worried about what people might think of a woman turning up to parkrun in hijab, she soon discovered an inclusive family and never looked back.
Here’s her journey from digging out a pair of trainers from the boot of the car to thinking about ultra marathons.
My running journey began in April 2017. Up until that day I had only run in PE lessons at school and it was not something I enjoyed doing at all. Whilst I was on holiday with my family over the Easter break, I was thinking about how I could become more active and feel healthier.
I’d put on a lot of weight after having three children and although I’d lost some through dieting, I wanted to incorporate exercise into my life to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Running sprung to mind so as I had an old pair of trainers in the boot of my car, I put them on and ran/walked a very slow one mile around the holiday village.
Even just after mile of run/walking I was hooked! I googled “running near me” and parkrun (Wycombe Rye) came up on the results. I was intrigued, I had never heard of it before, so I looked up all the information about it. I decided I was going to go the following week, I registered, and printed off my barcode. The Saturday came and off I went.
I felt so nervous. I parked the car and saw lots of other people in running clothing heading towards the start, and there was me on a warm April morning, covered up and in a hijab.
I was worried what people might say or think once they saw a woman in hijab coming to run. Would they laugh at me? Would they secretly think how can she be a runner dressed like that? I got to the start and listened to the First Timer’s Briefing.
Running with this amount of people was something I had never done before. I positioned myself at the back and started my run/walk around the course. I was so worried before I got there, but there really was no need to be. The Marshals on the course shouted “well done” as I passed them, and as I came towards the finish funnel, I was clapped and cheered on by the volunteers and other parkrunners. That gave me such a confidence boost. I loved the positive atmosphere and encouragement, I realised then I had nothing to worry about.
Volunteering at parkrun is also important to me. It’s my way of supporting my local community. I’m a Run Director for junior parkrun and have volunteered many times at the 5k parkrun too.
My favourite memory of volunteering is when we all dressed up for a junior parkrun that landed on Halloween. To see the smile and joy on the children’s faces made it all worthwhile dressing up as a witch!
That very first parkrun I knew nobody at all, but now I have made so many friends through parkrun who are all a part of my running family. If you’ve not been to a parkrun yet due to worries about going on your own or dressing differently, my advice is to just go (when its all back up and running).
I promise you won’t regret it.
parkrun was just the start of my running journey. That October I ran my very first half marathon. It was a big challenge to run a half marathon within only six months of beginning to run, but I increased my mileage slowly, allowed myself days off when I didn’t feel like running and most importantly, I just enjoyed my training.
I had no time in mind for my first half marathon as all I wanted was to finish to prove to myself I could do it. And I did!
Fast forward to 2020 and I’ve run a marathon and completed numerous races and also qualified as a Run Leader for England Athletics. I’ve just started up my couch to 5K group for women from my local community following the guidelines which allow 6 runners in a group.
I really want to encourage women from the South Asian Community to get out and fall in love with running and not be discouraged by how they are dressed or how they perceive others will see them.
I’m really hoping they are able to do their graduation run at parkrun in 12 weeks time as I want them to experience the inclusiveness of parkrun, I’ve got everything crossed that it can happen.
I get asked a lot about running in a hijab, with the most common question being “ don’t you feel hot?” My answer is, yes I do, but that’s the only way I’ve ever ran so it’s completely fine for me. Now you can now get sweat wicking sports hijabs which really make a difference when running in warm weather.
My running friend Sue and I always laugh about the time at parkrun when it was sub zero temperatures, I was wearing a normal hijab, and there was frost on top of my hijab! So if you run in a hijab, I highly recommend sports hijab.
I cant wait to get back to parkrun once we safely can, I really miss seeing everyone and the sense of community and belonging it brings. With no races to train for, I’m looking forward to training again, with the hope of completing my second marathon in 2021 and who knows, perhaps an Ultra Marathon.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my running journey. Don’t let that little voice in your head stop you from achieving what you want to, you can run any distance you train for.
Cover photo credit: Matt Fowler Photography
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