5 Tips to Get Your Run ON by Women's Running Covergirl Rahaf Khatib

Posted on Feb 10, 2017
Guest Contributor


Running is a huge part of my life, and one of my biggest passions. I'm currently approaching my five-year running anniversary, my three-year marathon running anniversary, and was recently honored to be featured on the cover of Women's Running Magazine! To many people's surprise however, I wasn't always a runner. I am often asked how I got started, so I wanted to share my story, and give some of my best tips for aspiring runners to get their run ON! 

My running career started back in April 2012, when I ran my first race: a 10K. I'll be honest...I had no clue what I was doing, nor did I have anyone to guide me through it. All I did to prepare was run every day for as long and far as I could. I had never even run track in high school. I would go as far as saying I loathed running! 

Fast forward 5 years later, I started running to challenge myself to reach new heights I didn’t think were possible to attain. In just a few years, I've completed 6 full marathons, 14 half marathons, and two spring triathlons along with several other 5/10K’s and biking events. Through every mile, marathon, and race I finished, I came out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. There was also a bigger picture: running as a hijabi gave me hope that I could change peoples' perspectives about Muslims. I felt I was doing my part in doing da'awah by lining up at the starting line of the Paris Marathon or the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Running became my form of activism and has given me a platform I otherwise would not have had. I hope to inspire other hijabis whether they are career women or stay-at-home moms to hit the pavement and start running. I also hope to see major fitness retailers (hello, Nike!) represent us covered sisters in their ads and cater to our modest fitness needs.

Currently, I'm training for the oldest and most prestigious race in the country: the Boston Marathon! I will be running to raise money to help Syrian Refugees settling in Michigan, and would love if you would consider donating to my cause

For anyone who is new at running or thinking of pursuing running as a hobby, here are my top 5 tips to getting started:

1. Sign yourself up for a run. Yup, you heard me. This is actually how I got started. The first thing I did before I even started running was sign up for a race. By paying and registering for a race, you will find it easier to hold yourself accountable and have a concrete goal to work towards. That way, you can focus on tackling daily running goals until the day of the race. 

2. Get fitted for running shoes. Perhaps the biggest mistake new runners make is running in whatever sneakers they already have, buying the most stylish sneaker on the market, or getting suggestions from a friend on what shoe to run in. DON’T DO IT! Please visit a specialty running shoe shop and get fitted for the correct shoe for you. When it comes to running shoes, one size does not fit all. There are 3 types of running shoes: "maximum support" (the most supportive shoe for excessive pronation), "stability" (for a good mix of cushion and motion control but not as heavy as the first), and "neutral" (the lightest one, which doesn't provide much support but is the most popular type of shoe for runners). Running in the wrong sneaker can get you seriously injured, so please take this seriously! 

Here are some examples of specialty running shops you can check out: Running Fit, Road Runners, and Hanson's Shop

3. Find and stick to a training plan. Online training plans are plentiful, vary in fitness levels, and (most) are free! When I was training for my first marathon, I used Hal Higdon's plans. He provides plans from competitive/novice/beginner 5K up to competitive/novice/beginner full marathon training. I also used the Hansons Marathon Method for the Chicago and Indianapolis Marathons. If you simply choose to run for fun without following a tough training plan you can also reach out to your local YMCA or join a local running group in your community. What works for one runner does not necessarily work for another, so do your research and find out what interests you! 

4. Strength Train. All that pounding on the pavement (or treadmill) will take a toll on a body. Therefore, it's a must for runners to include a couple days of strength training in their fitness routine. You don't need to lift heavy weights; a simple Barre or Pilates class will do the trick. I personally love interval training (boot camps) and Vinyasa yoga classes. I do each at least twice a week if I can. Strength training is important to strengthen your core, hips, and glutes and protect you from running injuries, which commonly stem from those muscle groups being weak.

5. Beware of doing too much too soon. Another huge mistake runners tend to make is running too many miles too soon or too fast. The rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by 10% a week. Make sure you don't compare yourself to other runners. Listen to your body, and do what you can while gradually increasing your mileage. It is also very important to take a full rest day here and there to allow your body to rehabilitate! Pushing yourself too hard too fast will put you at risk for common running injuries such as shin splints, IT Band Syndrome and Runners Knee. If you do get injured, for immediate relief follow every runners' favorite acronym, R.I.C.E, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Stop running, ice the injured area, wear compression socks if need be, and elevate the injured leg or foot. If something does not feel right, see a doctor! 

I hope this post inspired you to join the running world! For more tips and inspiration, you are welcome to email me at runlikeahijabi@yahoo.com and follow me on Instagram

Rahaf Khatib is a stay-at-home mom, an international marathon runner, the first Hijabi to appear on the cover of a US Fitness Magazine, and a top ten finalist in the 2015 Runners World cover search. Rahaf uses her running to empower the community by advocating for healthy living and organizing local runs. She has been sponsored to run the prestigious Boston Marathon with the Hylands team in honor of Elizabeth, the first female to cross the finish line 50 years ago! She will be running to raise money for Syrian refugees settling in Michigan, so please consider donating to her cause