Just over 18 months ago an opportunity presented itself to start a running club for members of our mosque community with Stanmore Jafferys. Traditionally, running has a poor image within south asian communities. It has been viewed as the activity ‘we don’t do’ or the one that causes ‘permanent knee damage’. When I reflected on my own journey with my running buddy, Ariff Sidik, I realised that people in our community needed support and motivation. While on the face of it running is so beautifully simple, the complex nature behind it means people don’t know how to start, what shoes to buy, how to train, what to do when an injury occurs, how to stay motivated, all factors which make it very easy to give up at the first attempt.
At the time, the size of the challenge never dawned upon me. But after 18 months we have built a healthy community of runners, struck deals with local shops, found sponsors, worked collaboratively with Who is Hussain in raising over £75k by supporting 20 plus runners in completing the London Landmarks Half Marathon Limited and created countless amounts of video, audio and written content to support our runners. Maybe, just maybe, some of those barriers into running have been loosened.
Reflecting on everything that the team has achieved, I wanted to share 5 of my own personal reflections on this journey and what I’ve learnt along the way.
- PURPOSE – always remember your original aim. To help others. Distractions and noise are part of the journey, but staying true to your original goal is important.
- SERVICE – other than serving my wife, children and family, I had never really done anything for others before this. It’s never too late to start giving back. I regret not having started earlier. It’s one of the most humbling acts you can fulfil in your life but also one that allows you to grow as an individual.
- BELIEF – have faith in your ability and judgment. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You will get things wrong, this is part of the journey, but for all the things you don’t get right, there is something big waiting for you around the corner.
- RELATIONSHIPS – build bonds with people. Make personal connections. Share stories. Laugh. Cry. Create mini communities. Don’t be transactional, “I’ll see you at next weeks run”, no!! Message them, ask how they are feeling the next day. “Are you looking forward to tomorrow’s run?”. Go that extra mile for others.
- MINDSET – if you want to do something you’ll always find a way of doing it. No problem is too big to solve. But if you don’t, you’ll spend that time finding a million and one excuses not to do it and in that time you probably could have solved your problem.
“One run can change your day, many runs can change your life”.