Smashing Stereotypes: One step at a time
You run, you’re a woman, you wear a hijab… you may have to overcome stereotypes.
In this enlightening interview, Lynne AKA “Jogonhijabi”, talks about the importance of running and joy of #Parkrun.
How did you get into running and why?
I have always enjoyed regular cardio exercise at the gym however never ran outside until I signed up for a 5k Race4Life in March 2015. I was motivated to join the Pink Army as I liked the idea of all ladies together running for such a great cause. I had recently lost my Nan to cancer and whenever I saw a advert for cancer fundraising I would start to cry so I decided to raise money and and run in her memory. I was going through a stressful period in my life then and despite starting my training in December 2014 I loved being outside running through my thoughts.
What has running given you?
I soon found that running was a great stress relief and helped me work through some difficult emotions. I had also been diagnosed with stress-related high blood pressure and found running helped alleviate the psychological distress which in turn improved my over all physical health and have not suffered with the physical symptoms of prolonged anxiety since. In Feb 2017 I joined a running club, Dagenham88 Runners, and discovered a whole new world. Having been consistently a lone runner, I was amazed to find such a varied community of people. The social aspect of running has further helped me to beat periods of low self-esteem and fluctuating moods. I have never met such a huge expanse of people so encouraging and positive that it lifts self-belief ten-fold. Runners have also helped me to have hope again in human nature whereby I have witnessed such great acts of kindness, selflessness and support.
What have you given to running?
Having experienced this support from other runners I like to give back what has been given to me. I have volunteered at Parkrun, cheered on the sidelines to other runners during races and turned up to track night when I am injured. I have run with runners when they are struggling at the back and kept them company so they could finish. A lot of running is about the psychological strength we need to get through to the finish line. Friendly, kind words of support work wonders in getting us there. Words and smiles cost nothing. I organised a 5km walk/run in my local park to raise money for charity and the majority of participants were non-runners. It was wonderful to support them and encourage them and praise them for their great achievement.
Parkrun really sets me up for the weekend. It is worth sacrificing a lie-in. Far more happy endorphins are produced staying active and meeting positive people than lying in bed. I love the fact people of all abilities and backgrounds get together globally each week for the mutual love of running and being healthy. The first day I went to Parkrun I did not know anyone but was quickly taken under the wing of the marshalls of Barking Parkrunand became newly adopted as one of the family.
The common stereotype about Muslim women who wear hijab (scarf or other coverings) is that we are weak, oppressed and have no voice. I want to show the world that on the contrary, we can be strong, self-assured and community spirited. While many might perceive that hijab holds us back, I want to demonstrate that it can be the powerful force that helps us reach our potential and beyond. Finding our true self is the ultimate goal for individuals. If a Muslim woman loves to wear hijab as part of her identity and she can go out and make a difference in this world then that is beautiful and she symbolises a purposeful life. Criticisms have been that hijab prevents integration in the UK and other populations. I hope to show that hijab does not get in the way of building and maintaining relationships in our society.
How else can we #empowermuslimwomen?
Have you ever experienced negative stereotypes while running?
How do you handle it?
Fundraising for Gambia how can people help?
VLM whats your hope?
Lynne, thank you so much for reflecting on your running story with us. The very best of luck with Virgin London Marathon 2018 and your fundraising.
Yours in sport 🙂
The full interview can be found