My Run Birmingham experience & tips [Guest Blog by Sabrina]

My name is Sabrina. I have always been interested in sport but due to my social anxiety I haven’t been as a active as I would have liked. Until recently, I didn’t participate in any organised physical activity.

I began running in March 2017 on International Women’s Day. Shortly afterwards I joined Run Birmingham to learn how to improve my running. Running within the company and safety of a group allowed me to continue running by keeping me motivated and providing me accountability. I also learnt technical things like how to maintain a steady pace, warm-up and cool down properly and control my breathing.

I began running because at work I was involved in delivering some sporting events as part of the Sport England’s hugely successful ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. Being involved in physical activity again re-ignited my childhood passion and joy in sport. It reminded me how naturally- talented I was at sport. Seeing many people who were like me and were also interested in sport and having fun inspired me to sign up to the 5km run on International Women’s Day. When organising and delivering the ‘This Girl Can’ events I realised people don’t judge you as much as you judge yourself and most, if not all people, are very supportive.

After running my first ever run I discovered many other people who were just like me; from an Asian background, Muslim and women with similar body types as me who loved and could run! Some women who were larger than me finished before I did, as did some older women. They weren’t super-fit, super-competitive, super-models but normal, average-sized women who had similar fitness levels as I did. Which proves that anyone can be a runner or an active person.

I thought it would be hard as an adult, especially as a woman, to find people to exercise with, but Run Birmingham provided me with my network of women who became my family and who I exercise and have fun with.

I like that the sessions are structured but also uncompetitive. They fill a gap for those like me who aren’t ready to run alone but find running clubs too intimidating and pressurising to join.

The run leader is very knowledgeable, inspiring and tailors the runs to the individuals within the group keeping the runs exciting and different.

The social element of being part of a community is also very important. The running is even sometimes secondary to the social aspect of meeting friends for a catch-up.

I am now one of the stronger runners and can easily manage running 5k but I still enjoy running the C25K programme with the group. The Run Leader accommodates faster runners as well as those who prefer to walk. They aren’t pressured into running or jogging until they are ready.

The Run Leader is so supportive he ran alongside me at a race and I managed to improve my PB time.

Since starting running I have overcome my fear of trying new things and running has greatly improved my social anxiety and negative thinking. I feel able to communicate with others more openly and effectively.

If you are looking to start your well-being journey I would advise you to;

  1.  Find a group or persuade your family or friends to join you. I find it’s easier to accomplish something together as a group rather than on your own.
  2. Stick to it, as it gets better, I promise you. It took me 7 runs to start enjoying it.
  3. Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning of your well-being journey as you won’t enjoy your running as much, as when you move at your own pace ( as I started doing from run 8 onwards!)
  4. Be flexible in your approach, don’t kick yourself if you miss a run or two or three! Run Birmingham run leaders are very accommodating and understanding – you don’t need to attend every session if you’re unable to. Same with any other activities you do, if life gets in the way of your workouts, let it but don’t give up. Get back on track as soon as you are able.

Enjoy the journey towards a healthy lifestyle don’t become fixated on a target whether that be a personal best or a weight loss goal. Well-being is more than a number, it’s a feeling, a family and connection and a movement.

Adeel Khan
Author: Adeel Khan