The Trials and Tribulations of a Wannabe Runner

I’ve said this so many times already but I’ll say it again: I absolutely, whole-heartedly, from the

I look anything but sexy when I'm running. As you can see, I didn't even bother buying this was I was so under-impressed with my sexiness.

I look anything but sexy when I’m running. As you can see, I didn’t even bother buying this one I was so under-impressed with my sexiness.

innermost part of my soul detest running.

Even so, or perhaps as a result, I so want to be a runner.

That is how mentally deranged I can be sometimes. And now that I’m running, I have absolutely no idea how I can maintain this runners’ lifestyle.

I’ve dabbled in running for a few years. It’s never been anything serious. I used to resort to it as part of a larger training regime. I never trained to be a good runner. I ran (let’s call it jog instead) to diversify my workouts. Jogging on my treadmill at home was a handy way to get in half an hour of exercise before going to work some days. That was pretty much it.

And then I married a crazy Scotsman. He runs and partakes in running races and triathlons the way I eat basboosa (the most delicious Egyptian sweet you can ever imagine). I accompanied him to a couple races and thought they looked “fun”. He encouraged me to run a bit more and to participate in a couple 10km races. It was ugly. But despite the fact that I repeatedly refer my readers back to my horrible memories of being passed in my races by a limping 50-something-year-old stroke survivor, countless overweight people, the elderly, tiny children, and once (get a load of this) by a blind lady, I persevered. I’ve kept at it. I ran my first half marathon earlier this year. Who would have thought that I could run 21km? I wouldn’t have.

But is that enough for my deranged mind? No. I need to run faster. I can no longer accept (I couldn’t to start with but now I REALLY can’t) watching little kiddies so easily pass me by when I run the weekly 5km race, called a Parkrun, in the UK. I just won’t have it. So now not only am I trying to be able to run longer distances, I’m trying to run them at a faster pace. AND IT SUCKS!  (more…)

A Race Against Myself

I have always struggled with running. It is not my sport. I usually resort to it only when I absolutely must. When I’m in

Running in Cairo with the totally awesome Cairo Runners.

Running in Cairo with the totally awesome Cairo Runners.

Egypt, my treadmill becomes one of the few means available to me for a daily workout. I stopped going to the gym in Egypt a few years ago because it took too long to get to it in Cairo’s horrendous traffic.

My problem with the treadmill is the mind-numbing monotony that comes with using it. After running for a kilometer or two my whole body feels like giving up because I am simply too bored.

I tried picking up running properly when the wonderful initiative of Cairo Runners started with weekly Friday runs. But due to my irregular participation, I was suddenly running distances that I had not properly trained for or graduated up to. My knees were unable to take the pounding from running long distances on pavement. I had to give up running completely for a few months to nurse my knee back to health. In the meantime, I focused on other forms of low-impact exercise.

Once my knee was better, I wanted to take up running again. I don’t like thinking that there is something out there that I cannot do. I find running boring, it hurts sometimes, and it requires tremendous endurance and willpower from me that I do not always have. But what all that really means is that I need to engage in a battle with myself and win it.

So I signed myself up for a 10 km race in the UK. (more…)

Nadia’s Ten Tips for Healthy Living

Anybody and everybody is writing about healthy living nowadays. Much of what is out there is common sense and you have to

My husband, a friend of ours, and I cycled from London to Paris this year. Having a short-term goal will motivate you to keep exercising.

My husband, a friend of ours, and I cycled from London to Paris this year. Having a short-term goal will motivate you to keep exercising.

wonder why someone has written a whole book about it. More of what is out there is just a load of crap. Generally, I think too many people have turned healthy living into something that is way too complicated for someone who wants to start on the road towards a healthier lifestyle.

So, since I am an anybody and I have accumulated some personal experience on this topic over the past few years, I thought I would share my own tips on how to live more healthily.

1.    Your goal should be gradually shifting into a lifestyle change and not finding a quick fix solution. One of the first things you need to do is completely remove the word diet from your vocabulary. YOU ARE NOT STARTING YET ANOTHER DIET. Your goal is not to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time. Your goal should not even be weight loss. Your goal should be to become healthy. This will inevitably result in some weight loss. But stop focusing on your weight and start focusing on changing the way you live.

2.    Lifestyle changes do not happen overnight. (more…)

Running with Cairo Runners

Hundreds of young Egyptians gathered this Friday morning in Heliopolis. It was not to protest in front of the Presidential Palace. It NadiaCairoRunnerswas not to throw molotov cocktails. It was not to express anger at government policies. Hundreds of Egyptians gathered this Friday morning in Heliopolis to collectively and proactively express the importance of physical fitness.

A new running movement seems to be gearing up in Egypt. It was started a few short weeks ago by a group who call themselves Cairo Runners. Their aim is to organize a half marathon sometime in April. And until then they are gathering people from all over the city to gradually increase the distances they can jog.

Today there were two routes; a shorter six kilometer route and a longer 11 kilometer route. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring experiences of my life to run alongside my fellow Egyptians on the streets of sunny Cairo. Instead of the typical harassment girls have come to expect, people were standing on the sides of the road cheering on the hundreds of young men and women who were chugging along. There were all kinds of people running today. They were mostly young people in their twenties. But I saw younger teenagers and older 50-year-olds as well. There were girls running in their hijab and girls without. There were guys with beards and guys without. There were extremely fit men (the kind with bulging muscles that you just want to squeeze) and there were young women who were nice and curvy. One young man was running with his two huge dogs on their chains.  Some people jogged the whole distance. Others jogged until they got tired and then walked.

If jogging on the streets of Cairo has been one of your dreams – as it has been mine – your dream has now come true! I’ll be joining Cairo Runners next week. I hope you will too.

Follow Cairo Runners on Twitter @CairoRunners and on Facebook where they post details of where the next running event will happen approximately half way into each week.

My love-hate relationship with exercising

Almost every single time I start thinking about beginning my semi-daily exercise routine I feel dread. But I’ve never once regretted

Hiking in the Cinque Terre, Italy

Hiking in the Cinque Terre, Italy

exercising once I’m done.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes when I start exercising or when I go to the gym, I feel like giving up in the middle of it all. Sometimes I do the easier exercises rather than the more difficult ones. Sometimes in gym class I’ll be so tired that I do things at half the pace as everyone else. And a couple of times I’ve started an activity and I’ve just completely given up after a few minutes. But that’s only happened when I’ve chosen to do something I’m completely unprepared to do.

My journey with exercise has been just that: a long and arduous journey. It’s taken me years to understand my body, its limitations, how far I can push it, and when I just need to rest. It’s taken me years to get myself into a mindset of exercising as regularly as I can, no matter where I am, and no matter what facilities are available to me. The one thing that has convinced me most to keep pushing forward is that I want to be fit enough to enjoy my life and to do fun and exciting things. (more…)

Jogging along San Diego Bay: I Want a Yacht

Now that I’ve finally bought a pee funnel, I think my next big purchase should be a yacht. This thought occurred to me while jogging along San Diego Bay. This is not the first time I’ve thought this. I think it every time I take a short sailing trip down the Nile in Cairo as well. I think I deserve a yacht.

Jogging along the Bay, I tried to catch as many yacht names as possible. Those yacht owners really don’t have any imagination at all. Sur la Mer, Days at Sea, Aqua Mara…really?? If I had a yacht I’d name it Shaitan (devil in Arabic), after my sister’s favorite rental horse. It would be a wild and devilish yacht, it would.

I loved jogging along San Diego Bay. The whole lifestyle they have here is just amazing to me. I started out at 6:30am. I was awake at 4 am (jet lag), but decided it would be prudent to wait till the sun came out before I left the hotel. But by the time I started, there were Californian joggers who seemed to have been at it for quite some time already. There was one group of about ten men and women going up and down a long flight of stairs at the San Diego Convention Center. Those stairs would have been just perfect for my Kilimanjaro training. What amazed me more was the ages of some joggers. I saw several older men and women. One looked like she might be around 65 and she was in GREAT shape. Another man who was probably 55 was a LOOKER. He was all-round muscular and showing it by wearing a no-sleeve T-shirt and shorts. Whew! And those gray hairs only added an extra coolness factor to the man.

My hat goes off to the women who had male jogging partners. I have no idea how they keep up with them. I’ve long since realized that what I do isn’t exactly jogging. Every single person I’ve ever seen jogging passes me by quite easily. But I don’t mind. What’s important is the thought. And I THINK I jog.

I even got two “good mornings” from complete strangers while I was jogging. Both were African-American men. The first was an older man who clearly finished his morning jog and was winding down. He seemed genuinely happy to see me. Other joggers didn’t seem to find the fact that I was a fully covered veiled woman jogging along San Diego Bay an oddity at all. Everyone just went about their morning business. I am not used to this. I jogged along the Atlantic Ocean while spending a couple of nights in Galway, Ireland last summer. The Irish looked as if there was an alien in their midst. I was the oddest thing they had ever seen and they couldn’t get over the fact. In France this past summer, I jogged a bit downtown. The French female joggers just seemed angry with me for even thinking that I could occupy the same space as them looking the way I did. All this is much better than any reaction I’d probably get jogging on the open streets of Cairo. I haven’t dared try even. I expect I’d be harassed, yelled at, or get glaring gazes of disgust. Today when I saw the 65-year-old female jogger, I started wondering what it would be like to see a 65-year-0ld female Egyptian jogger on the streets of Cairo in shorts and a T-shirt. Have you seen our 65-year-old women? Have you seen our 30-year-old women for that matter? Not something you’d want to see in a T-shirt and shorts, I promise you. No offense mes comrades. But it’s true for the vast majority.