My quest for a 5K

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By signing up for and training for this race, I knew I would not only be pushing myself physically to do something I had not accomplished before, but also pushing myself mentally.

Allah’s Messenger said, “O `Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.  (Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Hadith 127)

As a Muslim woman living in America, I have always been focused on health and fitness as an integrated part of my life.  As the above quoted hadith mentions “your body has a right over you,” I believe taking care of our bodies is a part of the balance and moderation of Islam.  As a healthcare professional and hospital employee, I have studied and seen first hand the effects of good as well as poor physical fitness. As a mother of three young children aged 7, 5 and 3, I appreciate the stress release provided by physical exercise and fitness.  Through my struggles to fulfill my roles as Muslim woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, Occupational Therapist, and friend, it became evident to me that taking care of my body through physical exercise was an outlet for coping with and fulfilling all of my roles. 

Throughout my high school and college years, I began to develop a realization for the importance of fitness in my life.  I knew that working out gave my energy and helped maintain a healthy weight and body.  Part of what led me to choose a career in the healthcare field was the fact that I was so interested in how the human body functioned.  My Anatomy and Physiology courses helped further my understanding of the human body function and the importance of caring for each system in the body.  Throughout my hospital clinicals and rotations, I witnessed first hand what unhealthy choices led to including heart disease, respiratory diseases and obesity.  Wondering how a person could neglect their physical fitness to the point where it affected the function of the human body has always been a strong motivating factor for me.  As Islam preaches moderation and balance in all things, it is my belief that caring for our body through physical fitness and a well balanced diet is essential.

However what really pushed me past my comfort zone in regards to physical fitness and exercise was having children of my own.  In a five-year period, I was blessed with three beautiful and healthy children, Alhamdulillah.  Needless to say, my body went through many transformations with carrying and nursing each child.  Between each pregnancy I struggled to loose weight trying different diets each time.  However I realized the only thing that brought on long lasting weight loss was eating a balanced diet and the addition of physical exercise into my daily routine.  After my youngest daughter had her first birthday I realized that with two daughters I needed to be a role model for my daughters.  I wanted them to know that a Muslim woman can be involved in sports and physical fitness.  I did not want them to look to me and think that the hijab would ever limit them from anything.  This was the moment when I decided I needed to do something outside of my comfort zone.  I decided I wanted to compete in a 5K race.  Now for many people, running this distance comes naturally and is an easily attainable goal.  However for myself, this was a big challenge.  Although I had been exercising at a gym for the past four years, I never before considered myself to be a runner.  The last memory of running I had was my freshman year of High School where I struggled to complete a mile in time to get the “A.” 

By signing up for and training for this race, I knew I would not only be pushing myself physically to do something I had not accomplished before, but also pushing myself mentally.  However with my children as my main motivation I pushed myself to begin the training.  I started by setting out to run one mile without stopping.  The day I completed that it was a struggle for me to complete without stopping to walk that I began to doubt I could complete the race and was wondering why I got myself into this in the first place.  Then I realized my own words and lessons to my children, nothing worth achieving comes easily and you must keep trying until you succeed.  Alhamdillah my second try was a success; I was able to run the 5K without stopping!  I was very excited and my training began.  The morning of my first race I was nervous but had confidence that I was going to do my personal best.  I wanted to finish this race to prove to myself I had the strength, both physical and mental, to accomplish this.  Crossing the finish line gave me a great sense of accomplishment and pride.  It felt amazing to share that with my children and family. 

I know this is only the start of me running races and being an active participate in physical exercise and fitness.  The fist race gave me the jump-start I needed to integrate exercise into my daily life.  Exercise gives me the physical strength and energy to keep me motivated as I fulfill all of my duties, interact in all of my roles.  But just in case I begin to loose motivation, I signed up for my next 5K that very night!

by Huda Ayoubi