Sayuri Dalvi - Marathoner, Single mother and an Inspiration for all

IJ Anita Tejwani
Published on: 25th October 2014
Everyone is born for a reason and the reason need not always be love alone. Marriage crumpled unexpectedly and she realized that she wasn’t made for the institution. Her only son got diagnosed of autism and she knew the journey would be long and emotionally draining. “It dawned upon me that if I didn’t pick up my broken pieces myself, no one else would,” says Sayuri Dalvi, marathoner, single mother and an inspiration for all.

She started running in 2007 to get fitter as she had put on weight post-delivery. Getting back in shape was fast as she believes that she has been blessed with such great genetics. “Frankly, my running has never been structured or disciplined. I have never had a coach. I just plug in music and set off running. I absolutely do not follow running rituals like warm ups and stretching.” She saw lot of her friends who did tempo, fartlek and interval runs to improve speed and quality, and eventually, she too decided to do it. But just setting off with no intentions of a systematic plan is what gives her running a different meaning and she comes back feeling composed. “It serves my purpose of starting or winding up a hard day,” says Sayuri. As everyone around her is chasing goals and competing, serious training makes her nervous and anxious.

Sayuri Dalvi - Marathoner, Single mother and an Inspiration for all,competition, dream, failure
It is said that - “Leadership is doing the right things but Management is doing things the right way”. Sayuri was running and doing what was right for her life, but not the right way. Last year, her Physio friend was generally checking on her gait and running style. She found that Sayuri’s left leg was way too shorter than the right and that resulted in lot of high impact landing of the left foot which caused edema on the bone below the ankle. “The injury did give me a lot of pain and trouble for a couple of years but I never really took any active rest,” she says enthusiastically. It’s been almost a year and she has reached a much better condition as she has been consciously watching her foot landing on the ground and tried to change her posture and running style.

At the time when a girl starts dreaming of her future and career, Sayuri had got married and by 20 she was a mother. But, for 22 months she wasn’t able to hear the word “mumma” from her son’s mouth as he was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). “Hard luck, I never got to hear child blabber and gibberish, no baby talk. He only liked cuddling me and barely touched by anyone else. He was almost getting closer to the second birthday and he still didn’t call me something. Isn’t that every new mummy on earth dying to hear?” questions Sayuri. Meanwhile, her marriage too had fallen apart and all this was happening in her early 20’s. She felt shattered and lost but never did she feel like giving up. Her son, Vihaan was her utmost strength to stand all that at such a tender age. According to her, he is the only bond that connects her tightly to life.

Before the race to start at Pune she wasn’t feeling strong, but she did manage to retain first position up to almost 14-15 kms, and then she suffered a side stitch, perhaps, due to over hydration and that made her achieve the second position. “I ended up becoming a friend with the girl who came first and we went on to do a relay race of 20 kms in April this year and we won it,” says Ms. Dalvi.

Running becomes mundane if it gets aimless and there is no growth. With so many races happening round the year, she finds it very exciting and cannot relax as there is another race to prepare for. She cross-trains her fitness with swimming and cycling, and also lifting weights at the gym. This combination spices up her life.

Vihaan always feels very proud when his mom brings home medals and trophies. She makes him swim and run to inculcate the habit of fitness and exercise in him but he doesn’t enjoy it as much. When it comes to racing, he gets extremely ambitious and does put in effort if he has to compete. He won two years consecutively in 2013 and 2014 in the races organized by the NGO he does therapy at.
“I owe a lot of my strength and my never give up attitude to running. I had come across a few lines in a friend’s blog which I completely relate to: ‘I am a distance runner. I have been trained to keep going even when it’s hard, when it hurts, when it sucks, or when I don’t want to. I look past it all. Relentless, call it what you want – stubbornness, determination, endurance, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up’,” says Sayuri on being asked about her source of inspiration.

Running calms me on hard days and it acts as a catalyst to the journey of autism which runs parallel alongside. I derive a lot of boost from it and I use it as a medium to vent out bottled up anger and frustration. My own strength amazed me, and though, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, we, my son and I have come quite a way. Today, he is 10 and has progressed to what I hadn’t imagined myself.

It might not necessarily be running. Taking up any sport complements the quality of life. Running, in particular, releases endorphins, a hormone which makes you feel good about yourself. It changes perspective and your outlook to look at situations. So, my advice to anyone who has a lot to deal in life is that they should start with a hobby activity which could gradually progress to some serious sport. It not only changes the way you look but also gives a positive meaning to what you feel is getting stagnant.  
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