This week’s feature is on SJ Running and the quite sterling work undertaken by Ali Momin in ensuring the club is giving everyone a run for their money. The outdoors sport has enjoyed one of the silver linings of COVID impacts, and running related activities are presently enjoying a boom of interest. The features team got in touch with Ali for an interview and suffice to say, the enthusiasm was infectious.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and the kind of participants SJ Running is attracting. What got you interested in running?
I got into running as I realised, the need to get fitter. Plain and simple. We all have that moment when the penny finally drops and for me it was the culmination of a number of things that had been building. I wanted to find an activity that I could do in my own time, when it suited me and was relatively simple to do. My wife, regretfully, suggested running. What started out as an occasional activity to keep me fit and healthy, eventually spiralled into something that I became passionate about. SJ Running was founded on the ethos of widening participation of runners within our community. Most people from our background dismiss it as ‘not something we do’ or something that is seen to be ‘too hard’. We want to breakdown misconceptions and make people realise it can be a big or small a part of your life, but it will bring enormous benefit. At present we are attracting seasoned runners (who often want to give back), to those reengaging with running after some years out, to those taking it up for the first time. It’s a broad church (mosque!) at present.
- Activities over Lockdown. What has SJ Running been doing?
First and foremost, SJ Running came into existence in the first lockdown, which shows that even in challenging times new opportunities are there to be seized upon. The nature of our sport also means we have been able to put on virtual challenges, across teams to our members during lockdown. This has created a community of runners that can push and motivate each other whilst also serving a competitive element. And let’s be honest, SJ loves a competition. We have tried to keep the challenges varied so they don’t become stale. In fact we strongly believe it is our duty to try and keep our community as active as possible during lockdown.
- We’re given to the sense that at its very basis, to run well you need to train. Are there any skills? What can one learn from watching the pros run?
If you want to make running your primary sport, then absolutely like all other sports you need to train in a very structured manner. There are three ingredients to this. The first, is to develop a running training programme. Whatever, your end goal is, at the core of this will be a varied programme. On one run you may do a speed walk in short intervals, another could be a long slow run, a third could be hill work and so on. No two days of running will be the same, especially if you variate your routes. Secondly, you need to build a strong core and strength plan into your programme. Too many runners neglect this thinking all they have to do is just run. Strong muscles and a strong core mean less effort when running, which makes running easier. And the third ingredient is the underlining element of discipline and determination in sticking to that programme.
- Any interesting stories/anecdotes you can provide whilst SJ have been on the run?
Some of our most enjoyable days out have been challenging ourselves to see how far our two feet can take us. Last year, we took a group from Ruislip to Windsor after watching our colleagues in SJ Cycling do countless rides to Windsor. And in December we took a group from Hujjat to Marble Arch (our Dome to Arch run). There’s a lure about challenging yourself to cover distance between two iconic points (okay Ruislip is not iconic but you get my drift). Or our mosque challenge in December drew a huge level of interest, where we asked people take a picture of a mosque on their run. One chap even managed to get down the A5 and snap both the Islamic Centre and Regent’s Park Mosque. He covered huge ground!
- How do you foresee Running working as a competitive sport on the competition circuit for SJ?
Given the embryonic stage of our development and the lack of competitive opportunities last year, we are hoping that, as an absolute minimum, we are able to give our runners the taste of a competitive experience in the coming year. For the vast majority of our runners, running is an activity they enjoy but probably not one they have tried through an organised competition. We have no doubt, once they experience this it will drive the development of their running and encourage them to enter more competitions.