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“I saw that there was this lack of representation within this space. Even though I’m going it at a recreational level, I started to see the reactions and responses to people who were finding out that this is something I was actually doing. It is very normal for folks to just think, ‘Oh you’re in the sprinter category or you’re you’re more for short, fast distances or jumping’ and that’s the end of the road. Even my family and friends finding out that I am running these longer distances, my parents were even like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is so wild and we’re so excited to see you.’ My little cousins were looking up to me and saying, ‘Oh my God, Ameerah! This is so cool that you’re doing this’ and asking questions. For me, seeing that beginning to happen made me think there’s something that’s here. There’s this sense of representation that’s definitely lacking. Now that I have this opportunity to show up and be in this space, it’s super important to stay there and continue moving forward. This is available to any and everybody…There’s a lot of self-limiting beliefs but then we also have socioeconomic limitations that are set on certain groups of people. Speaking to this conversation and leaning into just showing up. I’m a huge advocate of just showing up. That’s something that I always say. For me personally, it became this super important thing to just keep showing up and taking up space to a certain degree.”
Ameerah Omar is a self-development coach and meditation teacher but also the mindset coach for Adidas Runners and one of the first members of Girls Run NYC. In this episode, Ameerah shares some advice for how we can all go about getting in the right headspace in such weird times, the importance of a routine and taking inventory of your well-being at the moment. We dive into her upbringing, her introduction to sport and how she went from a multi-sport athlete in college to frequently running marathons. Ameerah shares some insights into her involvement and the mission of Girls Run NYC as one of the city’s groups using running as service and helping others. We also continue the discussion of race and running with Ameerah and how she’s been grappling with the news of Ahmaud Arbery’s death. Ameerah was another guest that was frequently requested from our listeners so we’re happy to finally bring you her story.
This is Runners of NYC. A podcast from CITIUS MAG. Hosts Leigh Anne Sharek and Chris Chavez look to bring you many of the untold stories behind luminaries and legends that make up New York City’s running culture. You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Spotify!
More from this conversation:
On the mission of Girls Run NYC
“The mission of Girls Run NYC is to provide a collective safe space for women to come out and be active. We do it through the sport of running but beyond that it has turned into this family and my sisterhood. We are connecting women from all walks of life and really supporting each other all aspects of our journey. We use running as the catalyst to bring us together but there’s so much more that we find and learn about each other that keeps us together.”
On her reaction to the death of Ahmaud Arbery
– “It’s been really tough. In my latest post about Ahmaud Arbery, I wrote that there are no words to describe what it feels like to be black and that’s just God’s honest truth. In America and in the world, there are these pressures and these things that are happening and going on. My reality is that there is no escaping what is happening in the world at every turn. That’s really, really tough. Trying to find this balance of allowing that pain, anger and frustration to live and breathe but also being able to experience moments of joy. It’s crazy because my birthday was the day before Ahmaud’s birthday. May 7th is my birthday. I’m celebrating my life and then the next day is this person who also should be here celebrating their life and birthday, but they’re not. I’m like ‘Damn. What am I doing here?’ I can’t feel good about my celebration knowing that his life was taken from him. He’s not having the opportunity and ability to celebrate his life. It’s really, really hard. I think that’s just another one of the reasons why I just have to keep showing up. I have to keep putting myself out there. I like to describe myself as a person of service before anything else. I believe that we have the fundamental right to live the best life that we can. I want to just help people be able to do that. Specifically, I want to be able to help black and brown people be able to do that in a world that tells us that we are not worthy of it. I keep showing up as a way to combat that and for folks to hopefully see that we have to press on, continue to take up space and continue to have these conversations and not be afraid of the narrative. You have to not be afraid to pull other people into it also. That’s a part of it. It’s super important and something that every single person needs to consistently and consciously be aware and talking about and acting toward.”
What it was like for her to run 2.23 miles for Ahmaud Arbery
– “Those miles were really hard. I cried the entire time. Again, because, running is something that everybody should have access to. Everybody should be able to do it no matter what. You have two legs that have mobility. You should be able to go out and get on a run anywhere, any time. The fact that someone saw this person as a threat. I can not. To think about all the things that running has given me throughout my life, when I run I often think about it as a way of freedom. It’s a moment of freedom for me. To think that this young man’s life was taken just trying to – I just can’t. It’s so painful. It’s so unfortunate and it makes me so angry. It’s so frustrating. It’s unbelievable that this is the world we live in. It’s un-fucking-believable.”
What happens when the real fear of being black seeps into running – which many see as a mental escape
– “For me, there is no escaping being black. There is no escaping the things that are happening. It’s, unfortunately, something that I have to think about at every turn, every step and every decision that I make. I’m thinking about it to a certain degree and a certain level. There really isn’t any escaping it. I do my best to just lean into my gratitude practice. That comes in as a strong point of support. Just being grateful that I have this opportunity. Honestly, I can’t look too far ahead. I have this opportunity and I make it through that. When I make it to the next thing, it’s the same thing.”
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