429. Henna Rustami, Fifth Avenue Mile NYRR Women’s Road Mile Champion


“I ended up on a dude ranch in Arizona. I just wanted to go far away from New York and from home and just do something completely different. I felt like I’d kind of lost a sense of myself in that pursuit of running really fast and high achievement, so I wanted to recalibrate and go somewhere where no one knew me and running didn’t matter.”

Henna Rustami is a rising star in the running world. Though she describes herself as “the worst runner” on her high school and college teams, she has gone on to thrive on the run, becoming an Ivy League champion (running for Columbia University) and thriving on the New York City competitive running scene. Most recently, Henna won the NYRR Women’s Road Mile division at the Fifth Avenue Mile, breaking the tape in four minutes and 45 seconds. And she’s thriving off the run, too: Henna graduated from law school earlier this year! On this episode, Henna reflects on her running journey and her childhood, growing up in Long Island as the daughter of refugees from Afghanistan. She talks about her parents’ journeys fleeing Afghanistan in the 1980s, and about what it was like growing up in a Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. She talks about finding confidence on the run, about escaping to a dude ranch for six months, and about what her training looks like today as a member of Brooklyn Track Club.

SPONSOR: AfterShokz — Visit ontherun.aftershokz.com for 15% off wireless headphones.

What you’ll get on this episode:

  • Henna recaps her NYRR Women’s Road Mile win at the Fifth Avenue Mile (4:55)
  • On confidence in running (8:45)
  • What Henna’s training looks like (10:45)
  • All about Henna’s childhood (14:50)
  • How Henna’s parents responded to her love for running, and what it was like growing up in an Afghan family on Long Island after 9/11 (22:15)
  • On graduating from law school and starting a career in the pursuit of fighting injustices (35:45)
  • What it was like going from being “the worst runner on the team” to an Ivy League champion (41:35)
  • On navigating what role running would play after college (44:50)
  • What’s next for Henna? (53:35)

Check out:

Ali on the Run Show LIVE on International Women’s Day

Caitlyn Tateishi on Episode 226 of the Ali on the Run Show

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