In the Running Zone

Towards the end of April your favorite running human was at the start line of a 5K race - it would be one of my last runs before Ramadan. Quite literally, it was a week -give or take a couple of days - before Ramadan swooped in! There are few things that I did differently this time around compared to my past couple of races.

I warmed up at home.

For my last race, I got to the race location a bit later than I meant to. This meant that I had precisely 0 minutes to warm up. Well, I got there late and I drank the equivalent to my weight in water before I left my house so add in that mini bathroom stop once I got to the race location and I was at the start line with no dynamic stretches done beforehand.

This time around, I knew that regardless of if I got there in time I wanted to warm up at home because that would ensure I wasn't in a time crunch and was taking my time through my stretches. I also included a few stretches with my foam roller to warm my calves and thighs up too - if you don't have a foam roller, a tennis ball works too! I got to the race location on time and had a good 15 minutes before I had to head to the starting line. I also had to take a bathroom stop once there - I promise I didn't drink my weight in water but uh ya girl was not about to not drink water.

I focused on myself.

Now, one thing I semi-struggled/struggle with when racing is that I always try to pace with someone. I didn't want to do that this time or any other time. Was I semi-upset when I saw people pass me? Well, yeah. I think any runner can relate to the feeling of am I being left behind am I falling too far back? I pushed those feelings aside and focused on my breathing and the way my arms were swinging - for reference, I was not having my arms swinging in front of my chest but driving them forwards and backwards.

Mile one was actually really nice and smooth - I finished it up in 7:45. Mile 2 is always where I feel I struggle. The middle mile always comes for my neck, really. Keep Going. You Belong. Keep Those Arms Up. Forward Lean. Don't sit back in your run. Girl if you don't bring those arms up! You can hold this pace, I know you can - KEEP GOING - welcome to the inside of my racing brain.

One thing I really notice at races is that there aren't people that look like me, ever. And it's not that it bothers me, I just always kind of wonder where are the people that look like me. I've grown used to always being the only hijab-wearing girl in my University gym for my 4 years - really in any athletic setting, it's just me that looks like me. That's really the reason behind why You Belong is pretty high up on things to remind myself when I feel like my wheels are breaking off.

By Mile 2 I was able to coach myself up - almost done! almost at the end! I didn't pay much attention to the runners around me - if I were falling behind or not - I just kept my attention to myself and how my body was feeling. I felt a side stitch coming up on my right side mid mile 2 into mile 3. A side stitch is usually pain on your right side right under your ribs - nothing harmful! but dang, once you get a side stitch you really wonder if you should Google what you're feeling and if WebMD will tell you you're dying - I managed to convince myself to google and finally know the term side stitch!  The higher your endurance the less you get them!

i clearly have no other poses oops

I finished strong.

The last stretch is actually kind of my favorite part. You're almost at the finish line and you may have felt like slowing down the pace but once you see that finish line in the distance you pick up the pace. That's what I did. I saw the time from far and was like! hey! get! that! PR*! GOOOO. I picked up my pace and went straight ahead across the finish line with a time of 26:44! faster than my previous time of 27:24:30! The really hilarious thing about my time - my mile breakdown was: 7:45, 8:40, 8:40 and my average pace was 8:35.

* = technically speaking my 5K PR is 21 minutes from a few years ago, but since it was so long ago I'm not sure if it counts? So this is a PR as of recent!

If I were to add my mile times up it'd give me 24:25. If I were to multiply 8:35 by 3 I'd get 25:05. So uh I'm happy with my time but also REALLY confused on what is the truth.

ANYWAYS - As I was drinking some water next to my mom and sister a really nice lady tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I raced amazingly and that I kept her going. Apparently she used me as a pacer through the race.

I found this kinda funny. This was perhaps my first race where I didn't try to keep pace with someone but little did I know someone was using me to pace. I feel like once you're in your own running zone you're in an invincible bubble because, you're focusing only on yourself and no not your time - just how you feel and how you're holding up. Really, any race you do is YOU vs Your previous running self. Although easier said than done, not focussing so much on the runners around me actually helped me ~relax~ into my race.

One difference between this race and my last couple of races is that this was the first time I didn't place in the Top 3 for my age group even though it was the fastest I went this year. I came in 4th place which I'm still really happy about and I focused on making this run mine, not someone else's. Also! I was #103/262 Runners!

When's my next race...

Now that Ramadan has started I can't really go on my morning runs or turn my morning runs into evening runs - I really wanted to run a half hour before time to break my fast (Muslims during Ramadan fast from sunrise to sunset - if you're curious about Ramadan and want to learn a bit more I've written a crash course on Ramadan - Crash Course: Ramadan ), I used to run in previous Ramadan's - however I'm really worried about feeling way too dehydrated. So for this Ramadan, I'm actually working on my core - that Stacey Irvin Jr. workout I mentioned in Building up Strength Without A Gym? Yeah, ya girl may have abs by the end of Ramadan.

I really want to have a strong core and stronger arms for my next race.

How's everyone's fitness life going? Are you a home workout human? Gym human? Running outside into the sunset/sunrise?


  1. Congratulations on beating your recent races! SO cute that girl told you she was using you to pace, I don't think I'd have the courage to tell someone that. I did my new favourite speed run again this weekend and I'm still loving it! I've also decided I'm going to start doing some core strengthening exercises. While the thought doesn't exactly leave me overjoyed, I'm excited to maybe see some changes x


    1. Thank you so much! I was so surprised when the girl approached me, didn't even realize someone was using me to pace! YAYYYY I have your speed run from Twitter saved on my phone, right after Ramadan I'm going to be trying it out!!

      Yes to core exercises, you won't regret it! (except maybe in the beginning when you start to contemplate why you've chosen a sport that relies on core strength hahaha - you'll definitely see some changes as you keep doing core exercises!)

  2. You did great, many congratulations. I don't like running but go to the gym almost every day. I always do treks during my holidays and everybody always seem faster than me but I don't really care and, as you did, I focus on myself. Wishing you all the best!

    1. Thank you so much! YAY the gym is the best - when it's not Ramadan, I usually spend 3 good days at the gym per week :) Yess, as long as you focus on yourself and not on others around you you're golden!

  3. Congratulations! Lovely photos too :) I'm definitely a work out at home person. I do all my Yoga at home and we also have an exercise bike at home which is really handy!


    1. Thank you so much Jenny! I love doing yoga at home, at the end of the day it's the perfect way to unwind. So lucky! I wish I had an exercise bike at home or a treadmill (even if I do hate on the treadmill a lot haha)

      Thank you so much for reading!

  4. Congratulations! I'm not someone who runs but it's something I'm definitely hoping to start getting into as well as practising Yoga and meditation. Great photos too!

    1. Running is so much fun - though I can totally understand why it's hard to warm up too, if you start out slow and steady you're golden :) Yoga and mediation is the best way to unwind at the end of the day, you won't regret it! And thank you so much!

  5. I feel like there is a massive under representation of muslim athletes :( thats a reason why I love how passionate you are about running, even though the people around you look different. Keep doing you!<3 I honestly admire you so much, I can reme,ber the last time I properly ran, it was YEARS ago at the school sports day and I was doing the 200m (i think) and once I had finished I burst out crying because I couldn't breath!!! (you can laugh its hilarious!!). Congrats on beating you record! Regarding your questions, I have started doing some home fitness, just weights at the moment as I want to build muscle and gain weight! Also heading over to your Ramadan Crash Course post now!! xx

    1. I really sometimes feel like there is, especially in running :( Usually I never see anyone who looks like me whether that be in races or just road running. AW thank you so much ❤️❤️Although, I'm the only one who looks like me as I race, I'm right where I want to be, racing against the clock :)

      I remember having a sports day by me! The 200M is honestly the hardest though, it's like all your speed has to be lighting and your legs have to move as fast as Dash from the Incredibles, hahaha I'm out of breath just thinking of a hard sprint 200M!

      Thank you!!! Hoping to beat my record soon when I step on my next starting line soon!! YAY HOME FITNESS - home workouts are always so much fun, I love using my weights and building muscle, I have some muscle to build up! Hope your muscle build up is going amazingly!

      And thank you so much for reading my Ramadan Crash course - hopping over there now :)