“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off your face.” – Gatorade ad
Running is an excellent activity to not just lose weight or stay fit, but also commune with nature and clear a mind full of stress. It requires as much mental stamina as it does physical—strengthening one’s will to keep forging ahead, while conditioning the body to be more tolerant of diverse environmental factors. But most of all, running can be social, and having company especially when starting out can offer one the confidence to lace up and push through their preconceived limits.
Perhaps it’s for this reason that so many people have joined the ranks of running groups in Kuwait. Several of these groups are open to all, regardless of whether you’ve just bought your first pair of running shoes, or are already burning rubber. Here are stories about four such groups.
How and why it began: Marcela Saccani and her husband Marcelo arrived in Kuwait six years ago, not knowing anyone in the country at the time. Keen to socialize and meet new people, they started weekly runs at Marina Crescent, posting about them on Instagram with an open invitation for anyone to join.
The group soon grew into a family while promoting a healthy lifestyle, and besides the weekly runs—where participants can run or walk, and finish with exercises towards the end— they also gather for social outings at farms and chalets, and picnics at the beach. What makes the group special is the diversity the runners bring to it, with respect to varying ages and the countries they hail from.
Advice to beginners: “Respect your limits. Have a good pair of shoes and start gradually.”
When and where it meets: 10 AM on Saturdays at Starbucks, Marina Crescent
How and why it began: Ali Shaverdi and Mishal Alroomi, founders of Lift Yourself—a body weight training program—pushed themselves through their first 5 km in February last year to support a friend who’d organized the Sustainable Youth Run, ending up with sore legs for days after the event. Then in Ramadan, they ran a second time at a 250-meter relay race, and the soreness revisited them the next day. Realizing this couldn’t go on, they decided to start running regularly.
Ali contacted two other runners he knew, and the four would run indoors at 5 PM every day, stretch before ftoor, and then post a group photo. Inquiries started raining in, and with new additions every week, the group now stands at a strong fifty.
Each runner has their own goal, whether it’s improving their speed or distance. The group works towards the goal and signs up for a running event to challenge themselves. If they hit their target, they set a new goal for the next event and train accordingly.
Advice to beginners: “Running with friends or groups will keep you motivated and make running more fun. Don’t compare yourself with other runners, focus on yourself and set a goal that suits you.”
When and where it meets: 9 AM on Fridays at the Marina Hotel parking lot
Q8 Run Club
How and why it began: Q8 Run Club started with Ahmed Alazemi’s desire to commit himself to a weekly run. He launched the Instagram account a year ago to reach out to other runners to join him. “The group got bigger and they became more of social group, or what we call our second family,” says Ahmed.
The group encourages people to run at least once a week, promoting awareness about different running workouts (distance, interval, sand, recovery etc.), running techniques, and nutritional tips. The group focuses more on beginners and people who’ve never run in their life, while also offering support to improving runners.
Advice to beginners: “Start now. Don’t wait until you get fit; don’t wait until you get those shoes or gear. Don’t wait for anything. Just start now.”
When and where it meets: 7:30 PM on Mondays outside Babel
How and why it began: P5M started out as a group of runners who wanted to commit to running, dedicating a day and time every week to run 8 kilometers (approximately 5 miles). Originally running at The Scientific Center, the group consistently evolves its offerings according to the public’s needs. It started incorporating exercises into its runs, and an Instagram account highlighted the weekly activity that the group partook in. The group now meets at Al Shaheed Park, with attendance being anywhere between 30-70 participants.
P5M also assists corporates with their social responsibility efforts by managing events, such as Boubyan Bank’s Steps campaign, an annual charity walk held at AlHamra Tower in Ramadan. They also initiated a weight loss competition held last year, which attracted over 1000 participants. P5M now has a studio that offers yoga classes as well.
“We think of P5M as a platform that aims to make a healthy lifestyle accessible to everyone by holding events, contributing to social activities, collaborating with corporates, or holding classes that are affordable,” says founder Bader Al-Essa.
Advice to beginners: “Embed running into your weekly schedule. It’s important to work on running techniques to prevent injuries. Runners have different styles, so pick the style, pace, and distance that suits you.”
When and where it meets: 8 PM on Sundays at Al Shaheed Park