By: Ashish Kumar (L&T MHPS Boilers)
I lie at times.
Believe me, I do.
I say things which are far from being true.
One such false thing I’ve told over and over again is that ‘I enjoy’ the hard physical training for my races. I have a tendency to make you believe that it’s fun when it’s not.
I confess, it’s not fun. On that last one of the six laps of 1 mile, 5.30 minute / mile intervals, I would want to stop and yes, I would want to puke my gut out. My legs fumble before I am forced into the recovery jog and the heart, at its near maximum beats per minute, seems like popping-out of the chest any second. And if I am with a training partner who makes me run faster than I would want to, it’s more pain. Simple.
I would go to the extent of saying that the only enjoyable thing about a high intensity workout is the fact that it ends and you get over it. The ‘enjoy’ part turns real only when it’s finished (successfully) and you get a feeling of joyful anticipation for the next (even more) killer one. Because you want to repeat or even intensify the same sense of relief when you finish.
In hindsight, physical training for a competitive sport is tough and soul sucking, even at the amateur level. Because people always complete with peers at their level of fitness and intensity. Actually, Its more perplexing for the amateurs because it’s not something vocational for them and often makes the person wonder in self-doubt – ‘what the hell is the matter with me that I am doing this to my existence’ and ‘why can’t I simply jog slow like normal people do’.
When I started to train for races some five years back (for whatsoever reason), I was told to take it easy and enjoy the runs. I was told about the spiritual and meditational effects running have on us. Catch phrases like ‘it’s more mental than physical’, ‘it’s a state of mind’, ‘you against yourself’ and a whole lot of other quirky stuff was what I was made to believe. On the surface, everyone (amateur athletes) seem to like the idea of no competition. After all, marathons are about going the distance and not the time. Right? Well, maybe not entirely.
Because if that was so, people wouldn’t have been obsessed about their race times and wouldn’t be posting their personal bests on social feeds. Faster runners wouldn’t have got more recognition in their groups and heavy lifters in the gym weight room wouldn’t be respected. This is in stark contrast to what it appears on the surface and the fact is, everyone likes to be strong and fast and fitter. The primary motivation in training for a sport is the feel-good factor that comes with functional or aesthetic gains. Every minute you drop from your race time is a big ego boost.
That’s where the fun run ends – the minute someone decides and starts to train out of usual comfort zone to reach a higher level of performance and fitness. Despite the pain involved, we still show the willpower to endure the hardships of training, who cares if we like it or not. The basic human instinct of competition is in our DNA and I somehow find it pretty attractive and badass.
Yes, I have a thing for this ‘badassness’. So, I did start telling a lie to myself and the people I talked to. This is fun. But this is also badass (which is not a lie). And to do it – is pretty badass of myself. Definitely it’s hard, I am not brainwashed. And I wouldn’t say ‘I lie’ to you any sooner again or you will start disbelieving me.
And of course, in a deceived mission to remove the hate for training right out of me, I have trained so much over the past few years that I actually have started to love it.
And now that is true.
Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates has put it beautifully and I cannot agree more.