The running initiative that has changed female runners’ lives

If you haven’t heard, & adidas have teamed up to launch a brilliant new initiative to help women to run. It’s especially aimed at those who previously would not have had access to running, or who would have been discouraged from doing it.

They teamed up with Coach Saima, a PT and online coach, to get the initiative started this autumn. She helped a small number of runners prepare to complete their first ever 5K race, on Saturday November 5th. They plan on making the initiative available to more runners in 2023.

Now that the race is done, we couldn’t wait to hear how Iman and Pooja got on. We caught up with them to find out how they feel after their first ever 5K race, and how the initiative has impacted them overall…


How was the race?

It was amazing! This has been an incredible opportunity to overcome a fear I had for a very long time. After completing the race, I realized I had accomplished more than just running 5K. I now feel confident to enter the gym and pick up weights without feeling judged. Everyone else there has started somewhere too! Coach Saima has also helped me to improve my form with weights, which has helped.

You’ve spoken before about running kit from a modesty perspective. What did you wear for the race?

For the race I opted to wear oversized clothing from adidas as it made me feel more confident. Hopefully in the future more sports brands will look at changing their women’s apparel to offer options like adidas does. I loved the joggers I wore. They were super comfortable and easy to run in, and I loved the breathable material.

The other revelation for me was the adistar trainers I wore throughout my training and race. I was surprised how supportive they felt compared to normal trainers and they made such a difference to my knees when running on the road.

What would you say to other runners like you who are nervous about running for the first time?

Give it a go! It’s not as bad as you think, and you might end up surprisingly yourself. I did not think I would ever be able to enter a race and complete a 5K, but it truly is something anyone can do, regardless of ability.


What does parkrun mean to you now that you’ve completed your first one?

It means no longer watching other people in the park running and thinking, ‘I wonder what that’s like’. I now feel confident enough to join runners and make the most of green spaces and enjoy parks. And I’ve found that the running community is so kind, especially at parkrun.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned through taking part in the initiative?

Coach Saima has taught us so much, but for me the most important thing is how we need to be kind to ourselves and rest around our training. She gave us lots of flexibility – if we missed a session, it wasn’t a big deal. This made it a sustainable training plan that I could stick to, and I can see myself continuing it now that the race is over. It also meant that I never felt guilty if life got in the way and I couldn’t run or train.

You’ve spoken before about how much difference wearing the right shoes has made to your running form. Did that make a difference to your race?

Yes definitely! I love the shape and fit of the adistar trainers. Because I’d never really run before, my form wasn’t very good when I started. The adistars have a really large sole which reminded me to run with the technique that Coach Saima taught me.

What would you say to other runners like you who are nervous about running for the first time?

I would encourage any women to get involved, even if they’re nervous. Just two months ago I couldn’t run at all and anything to do with running intimidated me. Now I feel more than prepared to start running regularly. I’ve never felt ‘sporty’, but it didn’t take long to build up the stamina and technique that I hope I can use and improve on for life. Also the post-run feeling is amazing!

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