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Can't just wish away years of disuse

To start with, in my defence, let me say it straight: this running 21-km thing it really is no great mental challenge for someone who was once being trained to be a tennis player.Photo by AFP

travel Updated: Feb 01, 2010 09:56 IST

This old coach used to tell us when Wimbledon was all we could dream of: Paseena aur tapasya hamesha parde mein, zamane se door (Training and devotion to God are best kept private). So the moment I was roped into writing about my attempt to run the half marathon, the first bit of superstitious dread began to gnaw at me.

To start with, in my defence, let me say it straight: this running 21-km thing it really is no great mental challenge for someone who was once being trained to be a tennis player. We followed a programme made by the former national athletics coach -- Ken Bosen -- that made most regular athletes look like wimps in comparison. Ok, it is tough to believe that when you look at me now, but the current lot of Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association trainees are not even within sniffing distance of the physical targets we set 15 years earlier. A resting pulse rate of 53, after all, is no joke. However, a single high altitude trek a year has replaced a regimen of daily speedwork after hours of on-court training, three days a week of weight training, and five meals a day. It's no substitute. That bit above was required, for when I quit the running programme midway, there were far too many smirks. It was quite simple really. After years of disuse, the knees were just in no shape to get going instantly. The body needed some basic groundwork. Our resident Rush physio -- Heath Matthews -- suggested I do a couple of months of swimming before I start running long distance again. That, just to shore up the support muscles.

That will be when it will be. But even with years of disuse, it could have been possible to carry on; relying on extensive icing and contrast baths to soothe the knees. Finishing work at midnight and then trying to get drunk afterward, of course, jettisoned all that. To the extent that even the promise of a Rolex by one of my more famous friends was not motivation enough. The watch was there just for finishing; there wasn't even a time constraint.

But guys, you know what, I am getting a bit pissed. Especially when someone like the senior editor who's written the piece above gives me that I-can run-10km-you-can't look. Adhering to the sage advice of the coach mentioned in the opening line of this copy -- after all the man was decades ahead of his time in training techniques -- I'll keep my peace and say no more. For now.