NYRR Open Run's Alnisa Shabazz: "I Ran My First 5K. I've Been Happy Ever Since"
As a volunteer-led initiative, NYRR Open Run relies on community members to lead weekly runs and walks in neighborhood parks across the five boroughs. And if you’ve been to an Open Run in Crotona Park lately, there’s a good chance you’ve met Run Director Alnisa Shabazz.
If you haven’t met Alnisa, now’s your chance. We recently chatted with the Bronx resident and registered nurse about what motivates her running and what inspires her to help others fall in love with the sport.
What intrigues you about running?
It is something I always wanted to do, even as a young woman. But I was discouraged. People used to say, “You aren’t going to win” and “You don’t run fast.” But then in 2015, I wrote down a couple of things that I wanted to accomplish. By the time I turned 60, I wanted to run my first 5K. On October 2, 2015, I turned 60, and on October 4 of that year, I ran my first 5K in Van Cortlandt Park. I’ve been happy ever since.
What motivates you to start your running day?
Just fitness, and that I feel better after running. I run at least three miles in the morning. Whatever problem existed before running, it doesn’t exist after I do my miles. It puts me in a better mental space.
What challenges do you face as a runner?
I face some challenges because of my age. I'm 62. I had my first injury in January after a 10K run, but I didn’t allow that to derail me. I signed up for deep-water running, cross-training classes, and yoga to help me with my injury. Staying run-ready, both mentally and physically, is one of my overall challenges as a runner.
Who supports you in your running?
NYRR Open Run volunteers—I’ve met some terrific people who've given me pointers on how to be a better runner moving forward. I’m also part of Black Girls Run. They really motivate me to continue running every day. They give me daily encouragement through phone conversations and when we meet in person.
How does being able to help people reach their running goals make you feel?
Being able to encourage people to come out and join NYRR Open Run makes me feel good. As a registered nurse, my mission is to help people age well and help to prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. I believe fitness can delay these hereditary problems.
What are some of your favorite places to run in NYC?
Any place in the Bronx, especially Crotona Park. I run here three days a week, and I go to Soundview Park twice a week. I love Central Park because there are so many people there and I feel safe. So, anywhere in New York City that has a park is a good place to run!
What’s your running style?
I love to match and dress up. As a kid, I wasn’t a sneaker girl, but now I have 20 pairs in all different colors. I like to look good, and I love to match my top with my pants and sneakers. I also love to have the same color lipstick on as my running outfit.
To learn more about NYRR Open Run, including how you can become a Run Director, visit openrun.nyrr.org.