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Get Busy Training

by Tanya Agarwal

It’s the first Sunday of 2024. After an extremely long day outdoors, I sit in my very warm and cozy room. The temperature in Gurgaon is 8 degrees at the moment. My kids are still awake and playing domino in their room but am not one bit distracted to blog about my first long training run for my upcoming marathon on February 25th, 2024. Last 3 months, I’ve worked on an injury. Fast forward to today, I am better but not out of the woods, and that going through marathon training at this point won’t be easy at all….is something I already know.

Alfie (Alfredo Miranda, my coach and guide) shared the 8 weeks training plan with me two days back. Looking at it, I felt scared. It’s the mileage week after week. There are three weeks of  87, 90, and 98kms. These numbers give me the chills. I told a very dear friend that I’ve never felt scared looking at a training plan. It’s usually been a mix of being nervous and excited so far. But this one has a steep learning curve for me. The numbers are steep and I’ll be taking on them for the first time.

I ran with Meenal (my runner friend) today and in between all the non-stop banter, she had a question for me, “what was the second thing that scared me while following a training plan?” For every runner, in and out of a training plan, the first fear is always – injury. I didn’t have to think very hard about my second fear – I hoped that both kids stayed healthy through the next 8 weeks. Every time they get sick, my mind goes off from active training. The training plan felt like a chore at that time. Later in the day, I asked myself this question again and the answer was the same.

Coming back to my long run today….the plan said 24 km in 160 minutes. I ran 25.35kms instead in the given time frame. I was faster than what the plan had wanted. I felt discomfort at 140 minutes. There was a sharp pain near the ankle. I walked for 15 seconds and then restarted running. The discomfort had turned into pain and yet I felt comfortable running. I’ve barely had a few countable runs without any discomfort in the last 3.5 months. But I’ve run anyway. I’ve been obsessed with mileage last whole year. I want to get used to running a full marathon distance without making the whole world hear my breath that sounds like am about to die! They say… do more of what you want to get better at. I don’t know who they are – but it does make sense to me. So I practice.

When I got injured last September (2023) – there was one thing I knew for sure – I wasn’t going to sit with an injury for long this time. Through many injuries in the past, experience tells me that sitting with an injury is easier than actually doing something about it. While in rehab, some things work… some don’t and some things work for some time and then no more, or maybe they do till they do. Coming out of the injury is perplexing for me. I don’t always understand what exactly worked for me. Knowing what not to do is the real knowledge here. Runners and rehab is a “hit and trial’ relationship many times.

And because am still in rehab as I pick up an 8-week high mileage run plan – I can’t begin to explain the amount of overthinking that happens to me after every run. Did I run too fast? Will the next run be tougher because of that? Will I manage to recover from this run? Did I eat too little on the run? Should I bring my cadence down, especially during the first 45 minutes?

All this can be frustrating and I tend to get overly fearful. And between these frustrations and fears, I’ve painfully had to understand uncertainty.

Today before I started the long run, I was asking myself ‘What if’, this long run inflames the injured area? What if….because of that I need to quit the next week or do only slow runs? But what if…..this one goes well, needs basic physiotherapy, and can move on to the next week without any change in plan? Maybe that is very much a possibility. Tomorrow is a rest day. I’ll sleep longer, work from my bed, and take a nap too. Maybe if all this happens, I can postpone the thoughts on ‘maybe not’. So in this run blog, am not dwelling on the ‘maybe not’ part! It saves me some ‘overthinking’ if you know what I mean.

My kids see me through all of this. In such times, my 9-year-old son reminds me – “Mom isn’t running a choice for you? … You do it if it works for you”.

My 13-year-old daughter asks me – Mom, why do you do it if it’s so hard and frustrating?

My kids know that I love running and running goals equally. Frustrations are a part of every tough goal we give ourselves. Some years of running have been pure fun, some have been driven by building a strong base and some have been about putting that base to targets. I know that both Aadit and Saisha understand exactly what I am trying to tell them. I frustrate them often and it’s often for the hard things.

At the fag end of week 1, I remind myself that I can’t rush through a training plan. Missed days cannot be compensated, the damage done from running tempos too fast cannot be repaired in 24 hours and long slow runs will not build endurance if run too fast. The word ‘slow’ has been haunting me. I’ll share more on that soon.

For all those who are wondering, if I don’t have enough work/ parent/life problems I need a hobby to bring more issues into my life! or I’ll put it another way. A non-runner has perhaps 10 problems in her daily life, whereas a runner has 20! and still, she will tell you how much she enjoys running. The paradox isn’t that deep here. Running distracts me from the chaos, helps me look at the bigger picture, and brings me the happiest endorphins gushing through my body and brain especially when life gets tough on other accounts. Running is a good problem to have.

For now, I don’t know if I’ve set myself up for a heartbreak, a crushing failure, or a roaring success. I do know that going through this training plan is the only way to find out. To me, it is an adventure. I have goosebumps as I write about it

My next run is dayafter (9Th January 2023) and it is a tempo run. Read here if you don’t know what tempo runs are.

A new week starts tomorrow and so does Week 2/8 of marathon training.

Hasta pronto

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