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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Run Beta Run # 3

Given the strong and polarizing opinions (On and off the blog) on application of game-theory to manipulate the body into submission, I am laying down some hopefully funny ways of doing so. The usual disclaimers apply (I may not have tried all/ any of them; I get no pleasure, humanitarian or sadistic, if they do or don’t work for you; List was current at the time of printing; Subject to change without notice; Postage will be paid by the addressee; Parental guidance recommended; Colors may fade; Slippery when wet; Coffee is served hot; Objects in the rear view mirror appear closer than they are; Real life may suck):-

1. Run as far as possible before the body wakes up. Ideally, run towards an area where the only way back is by foot. If it’s raining, even better.

2. Body loves inertia. Trick it into believing that the inertia state is defined as rotating knees. Do this by running continuously for some time. Thereafter, allow it the pleasure of staying in inertia forever.

3. Body also loves procrastination. Define procrastination as delaying the next break.

4. Don’t carry more than the minimum change required to buy a drink to avoid the possibility of taking a cab back home.

5. Before the run, don’t do any stretches or any physical activity that is more intense than what is absolutely necessary to stay alive. This is so as to avoid giving the body any signal about the impending run. Thereafter, let it play catch up.

6. If the body is still not budging, perform some stretches to trick it into believing that the run is over. As soon as it relaxes, run away. You are allowed to chuckle to add to its confusion.

7. While running, don’t give the body any idea as to where it is or how long the remaining run is. Avoid looking at landmarks or the watch. Focus on the rolling 5-feet stretch of ground immediately ahead of you as if it were the last thing connecting you to this planet. If possible, develop amnesia.

8. Develop the ability to call upon an out-of-body experience whenever you want it. Have a well-deserved rest up above while your body toils below. Whip it away while you are at it.

9. For severe pain, do a Joey and mentally calculate the cubic root of 13 down to 7 decimal points. For unbearable pain, try to spot the largest prime number in the vicinity.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Run Beta Run # 2

I am convinced about the duality of mind and body. In fact, I have a feeling that they started off at the same place set way back in time but one has evolved much more than the other. Humor me if I ask you to imagine the body as a separate specie altogether; one which is far down below in the evolutionary chain, one that doesn’t even have a language and only responds to physical signals. In fact, as I write this, I am convinced that my body is none the wiser still for it is blissfully unaware of this manipulating conspiracy.

No. I am not smoking dope. In the past month or so, I have experienced this in action. I have cajoled, conned, and coerced my body into partial submission. Partial because I have not mastered the art yet.

As I tried to increase the running distance, my body started to harass me with varying and irritating difficulties. It was either the knee or the shin or the lungs. I have come to know of more scientific terms for these troubles in the past month than I care. Firstly, all these terms are glamorous. I mean how cool it can be to admit that I have an ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) condition or Runner’s Knee or shin-splints. Glory aside, it did get irritating that I was simply not being able to move up from the 13.2km mark.

So the first thing I did was to give up on lapping. Instead, I have since started running up and down the East Coast Park (ECP). It’s an 18km round trip. The first time I gave it a go, I easily covered the first 9kms in an hour. I stopped over for a drink from a vending machine and then my body simply refused to budge. After multiple starts-stops-starts, I somehow got back to my place in 2:40 hours. Yes. You got the math right – it took me a good 1:40 to cover the same 9kms back. I might as well have been crawling. It didn’t help that during one of my very special moments of vulnerability, I was spotted by a colleague. Damn.

Two days of soreness and self-loathing later, I tried for a second time. Everything was going smoothly till my right knee gave way. After 1:30 hours, I decided to take a cab instead.

Some more days, soreness and self-loathing later, it was now the turn of the shins to splint. Only metaphorically of course. Total running time – only 40 mins.

I seriously considered giving up running except for one side-benefit that I hadn’t bargained for – my squash game had improved by leaps and bounds. I was still losing as many games as before but at least it wasn’t because I was running out of gas. This coupled with something somebody mentioned somewhere propelled me on. Here is how the saying goes – The body gets used to what you give to it.

So, I decided to send the body some strong signals by adhering to simple rules – a) I have to run up and down the ECP and b) There will only be one stop for drinks. The game-theory and past history suggested that my body would laugh at my face at the mention of these rules. So, the only way was through demonstration. And demonstrate I did. I am now at 18km covered in about 2:05 including the break. The body has internalized the message well. It knows that the only way out of that running track is through running that distance and the faster it runs, the quicker it will be back at the couch in front of the TV. Now, there are no aching knees or splint shins. It’s almost like how one trains a wild but dumb animal through a combination of carrots and sticks. For me, sticks are working well. For the time being anyway.

Next – An 8 hour-long road trip to Penang, Malaysia and a half-marathon run at Penang Bridge. I have invented a term for it – Motorathlon.