I’ve had several people write to me asking me how to start RUNNING! First let me give you my personal background on my running journey. Im approaching my 5 year Running anniversary, and three year full marathon running anniversary. I started back in April 2012 with my first race ever, a 10k. I had no clue what I was doing, nor did I have anyone to guide me through it. All I did was get out there and run everyday for as long as I can and as much as I can. Mind you, I was never a runner. Wasn’t even in cross country or track during High school. In fact, I LOATHED running! I would come up with every excuse to miss the dreaded 2 mile run during gym. I guess the pressure of if was to much for me. Fast forward 15 years later, and I’ve completed 6 full marathons in two years, 14 half marathons, and two spring triathlons along with several other 5/10k’s and a couple biking events. Currently I’m training for THE Boston Marathon. The oldest, most Prestigious Marathon of them all! Alhamdullilah. I learned a LOT in this journey as a runner and as the first Hijabi to ever be on Cover of a US fitness/running Magazine. Here are some tips for anyone starting out or thinking of pursuing this empowering hobby:

1. Sign yourself up for a Run! 

Reason I say this, is because thats how I started. Before I even began running, first thing I did was sign up for a race. It’ll keep you motivated and in check! Besides when you pay and register for something, it’ll hold you accountable and you wouldn’t wanna waste your time (or money) running with no purpose. When I have a run or marathon to train for, I focus on that and take it day by day till race day approaches.

2. Get fitted for running shoes! 

Biggest mistake newbies make is run in whatever shoes they have, buy what looks good, or get suggestions from a friend on what shoe to run in. DON’T DO IT! Please visit a running shoe specialty shop that will fit you in the correct shoe. One size does not fit all. The type of foot your friend has will not be same as yours, and I’m not only talking about size! There are 3 types of running shoes, Maximum support, (which is the most supportive for excessive pronation), Stability, (for good mix of cushion and motion control but not as heavy as the first), and Neutral, (lighter of the two types and doesn’t provide that much support -definitely the most popular type of shoe most runners run in). Let me give you an example. Would you wear just any Bra? Most people get fitted for the right Bra type. We take the circumference of the abdomen and the cup size into consideration to determine the right fit for us. Same logic applies to the shoes. Many people run in the wrong shoe type and get injured! So please before you start any workout regime, please visit a shoe specialist (some examples of running shops are Running Fit, Road Runners, and Hansons shop).

3. Pick a Training Plan! 

Training plans are plentiful and vary in fitness level. These are all provided for free online. When I trained for my first marathon I used the Hal Higdon plans. He provides plans from competitive/novice/beginner 5k up to competitive/novice/beginner Full marathon training plans. I also used the Hansons Marathon Method for Chicago and Indianapolis Marathons. This plan is more rigorous and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for someone who’s never ran before. The mileage is intense and takes a lot of time to train but you finish the plan feeling strong, and it preps you very well for that last 10k of the marathon in which runners tend to “Hit the Wall” if not fully trained. In any case, you can always reach out to your local YMCA or join a local running group in your community if you simply choose to train for fun without a tough training plan. What works for one runner may not work for you, but at the same time do your research.

4. Strength Training is a MUST! 

All that pounding on the pavement (or treadmill) takes a toll on the body. It’s a MUST for runners to add in a couple of days of strength training. You don’t need to lift heavy here. A simple Barre or Pilates class will do the trick. Personally I love my interval training (bootcamps) and Vinyasa yoga classes. I do each at least twice a week if I can. The reason behind this is not only to prevent running injuries, but to strengthen your core, hips, and gluts. These Muscles need to be strong in order to withstand all the mileage and pounding. Common running injuries always stem from weak core, hips, and gluts! Some people like to cross train to supplement running. These exercises use different muscle groups and are aerobic like swimming, cycling, or elliptical use. So your still getting your heart working hard, but using different muscle groups.

5. Beware of Doing too much too soon!

Another huge mistake us runners tend to make is running too much mileage, too soon, too fast. I have gotten injured as a newer running by falling into this trap. I got so motivated and pushed too hard and did too much. The rule of thumb is to increase mileage by 10% a week! Don’t compare yourself to other runners either. Just do you and listen to your body. Gradually increase your mileage and take a full rest day if need be! Common running injuries such as shin spits, IT band syndrome and Runners Knee occur by pushing body further and faster than its accustomed to. The ultimate Acronym runners use for immediate injury relief is R.I.C.E. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and elevation. Stop running, Ice the injured area, wear compression socks if need be, and elevation of the leg/foot. And please See a sports doctor if something doesn’t feel right.
These are the top 5 tips I’d give anyone seeking to start running. There are a lot more I wanted to include. However: your always welcome to email me or follow me on Instagram @runlikeahijabi (https://www.instagram.com/runlikeahijabi/) for more training tips and motivation! Also, as part of my Boston Marathon Journey, Im Raising money for refugees. The Money I’m raising will go to refugees here in Michigan who are in dire need of help and lack the resources necessary to live a day to day life. Please donate to my cause! at this link https://www.launchgood.com/project/running_boston_marathon_2_raise__for_refugees#/

Rahaf Khatib is a stay-at-home mom; an international marathon runner; the first Hijabi to appear on the cover of a US Fitness Magazine; and was a top ten finalist in the 2015 Runners World cover search. Rahaf uses her running to empower the community through advocating for healthy living while organizing local runs.
 Rahaf has been sponsored to run the prestigious Boston Marathon with the Hylands team in honor of Elizabeth the first female to cross the finish line 50 years ago. Along with that, Rahaf will be raising money for refugees here in Michigan. Please donate today