Baghza did cross country when she was at school but hadn’t got back into the habit of running in her adult life. She had always struggled with it but wanted to challenge herself by trying again. Despite feeling as if she didn’t have the appropriate kit or trainers, she felt there was no excuse not to give it a go as she lived right on the doorstep of her local park!
“I got married, started a family, had kids, and got busy with life. Then when the kids got older and more independent, I wanted to start looking after myself more with self-care as well as getting fitter. I wanted to try and do more of the stuff I did as a teenager! I needed a mental boost too.”
Baghza tried to join a local running group, but at first, she wasn’t sure where she fitted in within the ‘running world’. She also felt she couldn’t commit to several sessions a week. She knew she wanted to take her time and go at her own pace. Baghza then started running around her local park on her own, before eventually coming across a running group at Trittiford Mill Park led by The Active Wellbeing Society’s Sally Bynoe. The group met every Sunday and supported those that wanted it to move from running 5k to 10k in 4 weeks.
“Short-burst initiatives like Sally’s running group are brilliant for busy working lives, anyone with busy schedules such as working mothers. I plucked up the courage to join in. This running group was only 4 or 5 weeks, but Sally would set us homework of running twice more every week in our own time.”
Baghza discovered she preferred to run with headphones in. She used her running time to zone out, block out the outside world, and be mindful. When Baghza first joined the group, she had never ran further than 5k, but she soon did. A few short weeks later in February 2022, she ran her first 10k with support and encouragement from the group.
“I feel like Sally figured out my personality really quickly, as well as everyone else’s individual needs. She knew when to push me but also when to leave me to it. I’ve figured out a lot about my personality through running. It’s okay to run and chat as a group, and it’s okay to take time for yourself and run with your headphones on some days if you fancy it. It’s a trial-and-error process, you need to develop your own relationship with running!”
Joining the group and getting a kickstart back into running was a real boost for Baghza. It has made her appreciate the green spaces and parks we have in Birmingham even more. One of her favourite running trails was one from Trittiford Mill to Ackers because of all the different terrains and sights, such as Sarehole Mill, Moseley Bog and the canal.
“I grew up in the North and where I lived didn’t have all these wonderful green spaces that Birmingham has. We have so much vibrant diversity and culture here.”
Baghza plans to continue her running journey this summer. She particularly loves running in the evening. She hopes that sharing her story will let people know that there is no right or wrong way to run – it’s for everyone!
“If you have an inkling to run, I really encourage you to just try it. It’s improved not just my fitness but my confidence and my wellbeing. A big, big thankyou to Sally for being so amazing. Being part of the running group has opened doors in my life – no one should feel isolated or like they can’t be a part of it. If I can help one person and motivate them to give it a go, then that’s brilliant. It’s given me a lot of confidence, that’s why I want to share my story.”