Interview #11 for Inspiring Women Who Run
Sarah Khasawinah, also known as The Muslim Runner in the blogosphere, hails from Maryland, USA. She is a hijabi runner and regularly shares her perspectives on her faith and running, all eloquently and uniquely expressed on her running blog complete with doodles. Curious to find out more about her? Read on.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the USA with roots from Jordan and Palestine. I am passionate about social justice, sustainability and freedom.
What made you get into running and how long have you been doing it?
In high school, I had to come up with a way to fulfill my “action hours” for the International Baccalaureate program, and a crazy thought crossed my mind: I could join cross country. Although the idea of running more than 3 miles sounded scary, the team welcomed me, and I discovered that running could be fun. Four years later, in college, I started the Multi-faith Running Initiative to bring women from different faiths together to run, eat, and learn. We ran our first ever half marathon together in 2008, and after that, my new running partners asked me “What’s next?” They inspired me to keep on running.
What’s your typical training pattern like?
I run 3-6 miles a day, 4 days a week, and a long run on Saturday, which varies depending on what I’m training for from 8-20+ miles.
What is your favorite race distance and why?
The half marathon. It’s the perfect distance to run faster than usual and still feel fantastic after the fact.
What was your favorite race? Where was it and why?
My favorite race was not actually a race. It was the Vella Shpringa 8 Mile Run, in which I joined an Amish community in Pennsylvania to run in fellowship. I enjoyed the camaraderie of it, and the fact that we ran in fellowship rather than competition. Also, it took place at night, lit by the full moon, through farm fields, all of which made me feel in touch with both nature and humanity.
Bring dates (friends and fruit) for accountability, therapy, and good times guaranteed.-Sarah Khasawinah on running
Tell us about your proudest achievement in running to date?
The Seneca Creek Trail 50K. It’s the furthest I’ve ever run.
Do you have any other goals which you have not yet achieved in running?
Yes, plenty of goals! I’d like to improve my times on all my races, and one day, I want to train for a 5K. This is a challenging distance because it is short and long at the same time; I want to become comfortable running hard the whole time.
Have you had any unique experiences running as a hijabi in the US?
In the summer time, the question I get almost everyday is “Aren’t you so hot?” I believe that hijab actually keeps me cool on the run. Hijab also identifies me as a Muslim, and sometimes it starts conversations about faith, which is always a good topic for the miles. Strangers also often give me salaams. An especially memorable salaam came in 2010 — I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon with another hijabi, and when we finished, the borough leader, a Jew, greeted us with “AsalamAlaikum!” over the loud speaker!
If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
This past summer, I noticed a trail along the mountains from Ta’if to Makkah [in Saudi Arabia], which Prophet Muhammad took about 1,400 years ago. By car, it took us an hour along spiral roads that made my stomach turn. By foot, I think it would be more relaxing and exhilarating; I hope to try it one day!
Do you have additional advice or shout-out to say to all lady runners out there?
RUN! Bring dates (friends and fruit) for accountability, therapy, and good times guaranteed.
Jazakallah (thank you) Sarah, for the interview! Visit The Muslim Runner on her blog at muslimrunner.wordpress.com