All set for the half-marathon | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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All set for the half-marathon

Two HT writers — one a novice, the other a hedonist — are preparing for the half-marathon. Tally notes and find out how they’re faring.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 03, 2009 19:59 IST

This demands discipline, not my favourite thing
Sukhwant Basra, Former sportsman, now hedonist

They exploded in the West in the 70s and, finally, they’ve begun stirring here in India.

Them feet plonking on ground — soft, hard, tarmac, grass — is the most convenient fitness regimen – anywhere, anytime. Growth of organised events like the Mumbai Marathon has seen running communities spring up across urban landscapes where the activity was usually confined to times of dire need — running from a rabid bus careening your way or running after a rabid bus that snarled at the prospect of coming to a halt to allow sensible boarding.

We at HT figured that a lot of people are running. However, few seem to know how to go about it systematically. Theories on how to get in shape for a long-distance event span from the radical military-type slog running everyday to the ease of one long run a week. So we got the experts to figure out a four-and-a-half month training programme to get a runner fit for a half-marathon. To figure out if it works we inflicted it upon ourselves.

Three weeks into the programme I can move a bit better — I mean when I try getting out of bed the day after. The activity itself has spanned the nadir of “gasp, gasp, gasp, gasp” to the comparatively better “gasp, gasp”.

Nope. This 24 km for weeks 1-3 is not for the faint-hearted. It seriously impinges on late-night partying. It demands discipline — a concept that your correspondent firmly believes stunts creativity and hence must be shied from with alacrity — and procrastination only piles on the workload. I have juggled with the rest days, have tried to extend my sleeping hours and kept as close as possible to the demands of the schedule but without compromising on the partying. And you know what? It doesn’t work.

The body responds well to loading. The first two weeks were torture but this week onwards I’ve been going about it with more ease. Constant icing after runs and contrast baths have become new-found buddies. I am eating healthier and years of booze are already beginning to melt away from the mid-section.

To be honest, I don’t even care if I do the half-marathon or not. Sticking to this programme is a rush in itself. It’s a good way to be.

For a newbie, I think I’m doing rather well
Dhamini Ratnam, Novice long distance runner

The thing about sticking to schedules is that they easily come unstuck. Like when you decide to take your running shoes with you on a weekend trip (so you can stay loyal to the programme) and leave them behind.

All things considered however, week 3 began on a good note. I ran 5 km on Sunday, up by 1.5 km from last week. While I couldn’t run on Monday (because of the missing shoes) I ran in a pair of old keds on Tuesday. That didn’t go down too well for my ankles though — by the end of it they were screaming for divine retribution.

For someone who’s pretty new to running — three weeks and counting — I’m surprised and happy with the progress I’m making. While I’m nowhere close to running a full 7 km distance run, I have been able to add a kilometre and a half every week.

The thing is, I’m not a runner. Give me a basketball and I’ll run (and dribble, and shoot and do a mean layup); ask me to take all the shots at the back of the badminton court, and I’d swish across the court without much trouble. The rush of a racetrack seemed too tame in comparison to other sports. But I’ve always wondered what finishing a marathon must feel like. Is it as life changing as runners say it is?

Day 1 of a 5-km interval run was hardly life changing; it was more a pain in the general area of the rib, actually. The first 6-minute run had me double up in sheer exhaustion, despite having walked 2.5 km to the racing track. I wound up in 15 minutes and hailed a cab.

Day 2 was, thankfully, for recovery. I swam 20 laps effortlessly, which was a good sign, because I was worried that I had lost stamina. By day 3, I was ready to hit the track again. That day was supposed to be a distance run of 7 km, of which I was able to complete half, without a break. The trick, I learnt, was simple — breathe with your mouth open, and don’t think about when you’re going to stop.

In fact, I try never to think about the run at all, because the minute I try setting a mark, say 67th streetlight on Marine Drive from Nariman Point, as a goal, I almost always start feeling tired!