Picture by Athletics Federation of India

How Harmilan Bains improved her timing in three years to set 1500m National Record

Bains broke the long-standing National Record in 1500m at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships.
By Samrat Chakraborty

Last week, Harmilan Bains broke the long-standing 1500m National Record at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships at Warangal. It was remarkable, given that she had hardly trained in her spikes and was not fully fit in the run up to the event. She considers her feat as nothing short of a miracle but also knows that it wouldn't have been possible without her constant perseverance and motivation from her parents.

"Every athlete has a record of achieving a National Record. Mine was the same, I was close to the National Record and was trying very hard for the last two years and finally I did it. But this time it was a miracle," Bains told Olympics.com.

Her National Record timing of 4:05.39, which fell marginally short of breaching the World Championships qualification mark of 4:04.20, was also a depiction of her gradual improvement since clocking 4:21.19 at the Patiala Federation Cup in March, 2018.

It was largely possible due to the improved methods utilized by her current coach Suresh Kumar Saini after her former coach had almost written her off.

Harmilan Bains in action
Picture by Athletics Federation of India

Moreover, she had to skip the 2017-18 season due to knee pain which prompted the doctors to advice her to stay away from running as they believed her career would be short-lived. But it was a cook at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in Dharamshala who helped her recover from the joint pain.

"I was following my coach Mr. Bhatia (Jaswinder Singh Bhatia), after that from 2019 till now, I'm under Suresh Kumar Saini. It can be said that he knew my weakness and he worked on my running action. My first coach never said that my back moves a lot and it doesn't have strength or if you improve your shoulder then you can reduce at least four seconds," Bains explained.

"Coach Saini saw all the technical aspects closely while my other coach never paid so much attention to endurance. The other coach would ask to run around 16 to 20 kms but this coach (Suresh Kumar Saini) is totally different as we rarely run on the road. He improved my strength and saw my weaknesses while my last coach had said that I can only pursue 1500m and did not allow me to participate in 800m."

Bains, following on Saini's advice, worked hard on her strength which she believes is one of the reasons she was able to cut down almost 16 seconds on her 1500m time.

"But coach Saini showed faith in me and said that we can improve your speed, it is only the strength that you lack. He brought major changes in my speed. I used to do only similar workouts with the previous coach from 2015 to 2017 but now under coach Saini, I specifically workout according to my body. It was like smart work with hard work. If you get the combination of a perfect coach and athlete then improvement is bound to happen," she further added.

Bains, 23, is now in discussion with her parents, who were former athletes, for a possible high-altitude overseas training. It is likely that she might head to train in Canada in the upcoming months to further improve her timing and breach the World Championships mark.

The World Championships will be held in Oregon, United States in July next year.