Injuries have been an eye-opener for Tanya Agarwal

Tanya Agarwal, who clocked her personal best (1:53:25) in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016 last week, remembers how her tryst with the event last year was nearly spoilt by an IT band injury five days before the event.

She agrees it was her fault – she pushed herself beyond her run plan and ran way too fast on the last long run a week before the event! Determined not to let the injury come in the way of her dream, she went online and discovered a method that needed full immobilisation for three days. Yoga came to her rescue too.

Five days later, she ended up running a sub-two-hour race but was left with much rehab work.

As the Gurgaon-based mother of two fell back on yoga to rebuild her leg and hip strength over time, she also realised that an injury can offer some valuable lessons. She has no hesitation in sharing some insights that she gained during rehab. “The long-term goal is to keep running and stay injury free,” she says.

Let us hear her in her own words:

Brings in humility

First things first, an injury hits a runner mentally more than just physically. You hurt more on the inside. All this while you were enjoying the sport, getting fitter and somewhere spreading the message on social media and physical vicinity alike. There are people who are inspired by your running; there are some who admire you and others who flatter. You can be full of yourself but you learn you are human, after all. The injury puts your head on your shoulders once again. The voice of a true sportsman starts becoming clearly heard in your mind.

Facilitates introspection

Each time you come up short, you go back and look at your schedule and your preparation. Yes, there is always a need to go back and see what needs to be amended. Is your planning pushing you too much and leading to an injury? Are you still not ready for the kind of speeds you are trying to train for? You do love the speed and the ambition of getting yet another Personal Best sits fixed in your mind, but there is a constant need to evaluate, re-evaluate and work on being realistic. Many have injured themselves just because of impatience leading to giving up running for months.

Teaches to be non-judgmental

A learning that stays and never goes away. One learns to not judge runners on the basis of their time. It may seem usual to ask a fellow runner “what’s your time (for the half-marathon or the marathon)?” Injuries make you realise that such a question is not only a demotivating but also unfair. As runners, we always see the glory in the timings. Experienced runners set themselves apart from regular and new runners by understanding that there is a lot that goes on behind the glory of a personal best earned – Injuries are a big part of it!

Body needs rest

For the first year, I didn’t miss a single Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday’s running. But I realised that I cannot be doing it all the time. No matter how much you love your sport, your body needs the rest and break. It was during my IT Band injury, I decided to go on a trek for 10 days. Once I was back, I concentrated a lot on yoga for a period of one month and in April 2016 after a month of trek and yoga I came back stronger in May! And wiser too. I resumed with 5k runs later. Injuries wisen you and teach you lessons. Be ready to learn from them.

I ran the ADHM 2016, with my Personal Best. Through the last three and a half months of training, I was very careful and attentive to my own body. Regular yoga has been my manna. Every time I felt a niggle, I took a break for couple of days and did cold compressions. And because of all this, despite pushing myself a lot during the race, I am injury-free today. Fingers crossed.

One precious life lesson: Don’t take yourself too seriously!

Unless running is your livelihood, don’t take the injury and the damage too seriously. Ease up and enjoy running. Sometimes go for easy runs, leave that pace checker of a watch behind at home. Feel the wind on your face and let go.

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