Sixth Ramble

Okay, I have jumped 3 posts.

My arms are aching from 3 hours of rigorous training today. That has resulted into a little brain freeze.

I have started reading books on mental fitness as my coach says I need to train my mind more now that my body has the basic stamina to go through the training. (Then why are my arms aching, sigh…)

Mental Combat is the first such book I read this season. I picked it up because the title is very catchy. Who wouldn’t want to be combat ready? I read it between my training breaks and I must say, it helped me from the word go.

It explains the scientific reasons for pressure in difficult/challenging situations – the physical changes that occur (racing pulse, adrenaline rush) and the resulting disturbance in one’s mental state – and how to tackle it.

I think it is a good idea to read mental fitness and competition technique books when training. The day I read it, there were no thoughts other than shooting in my mind. Talk about focus!

The voice of these books is so calming and empowering that you feel like Rambo or Sarah Connors or any other fictional character that you hero worship for their fitness (mental and physical).

I know I have not rambled enough in this post, but at least I have turned up. They say 80% of success is turning up!



Dangal – an eye opener

I watched Dangal yesterday.

As you might know if you happen to visit this blog often, I have taken up shooting professionally in 2016. Seeing the Phogat sisters slog at 5 AM in the morning, I was considerably moved. This is what hard work looks like.

When Geeta Phogat went on thrashing one after another contender in the National Championships – with no other worthy challenger, my mind went back to the National Shooting Championship Competitions (NSCC) that I had just been a part of. There was a vast difference between entry-level athletes, regular athletes and the world class athletes.

Was the difference only in skill? No. The primary difference is ‘how seriously do you take your sport?’

The difference is truly revealed when a National level Champion moves to the International circles. It’s like climbing the highest local peak (in a plateau area) and immediately having to climb Mount Everest in all its harshest climatic glory without any necessary training. It is a rude shock – for those who let their focus slip after becoming a known name in the Nationals.

Every scene in the movie, coupled with the memory of every shot I took at the NSCC has given me a much needed rude awakening. Let’s face it – shooting 40-60 pellets a day after some limbering exercises, feigned meditation and 30 mins of holding doesn’t a world class shooter make.

Geeta and Babita’s Dad quit his job to devote his 100% to coaching them. I have quit my job to devote my 100% to becoming a good shooter. Not having a working day creates an illusion of having ample time on your hands. You do every little household chore that you think needs to be done, you make time to accommodate almost all requests of friends and family, and with the time that remains – you make hay while the sun shines – you goof off! (Reading every other ’10 things…’ article, scanning FB feeds with no agenda in mind, etc. I can think of a million things that I don’t want to or shouldn’t do and I am doing.)

I need to become ‘hanikarak’ for myself and start working towards the goal that I have set for myself. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t hard too. I was one of the ‘mediocre’ athletes in NSCC (who are labelled aspiring along with all the real aspiring deals out there. I might add, there are even ‘renowned shots’ who are mediocre, but let’s not get into that.)

Abhinav Bindra laments the increasing number of wildcards, which render the NSCC less reputable, and make it tough for the seasoned athletes to concentrate on their game. I might not completely agree, but I get where he’s coming from. If there is no serious competition, it can be disheartening for the International-level athletes to compete with little or no serious competition. (Then there is also the lack of glamour that they deserve at the medal distribution. There is hardly any crowd to see and snap them at the podium, but I digress.) The bottomline is most Indians – players, coaches, sports officials and bystanders alike – take our sports too lightly.

I had gone easy on myself since I knew I got into the Nationals. I just wanted the ‘feel’ of the games. There’s nothing wrong in it, but going easy should not mean not living up to your everyday potential. The week before the Nationals, we had a family event, and I kinda ignored my training. Probably I would not have, if I were younger, and did not have any other responsibilities. Is this true? I ask myself, and the answer is a resounding NO.

I have always found a way to not give enough and justify it. At times it is the lack of guidance, lack of confidence, lack of energy, lack of time and above all – the unwarranted sense of contentment that I use as blinds to stop the reality glaring me in the eyes. The reality is – I ain’t doing enough!

I need to take a leaf out of Dangal, and start prepping with a willing heart. My eyes have been opened. Let’s do this!

Letter to the 15 year old me.

Hi me!

I am looking at you from an imaginary time curtain. Just like Mathew McConaughey saw himself across the library wall in Interstellar. I am silly, how would you know? You are yet to see the movie. Or have you seen it? ‘Cos I am you! Okay…let’s not confuse ourselves. You have enough confusions to deal with already.

Hey, you know what? When I was you, you wanted to be me. But now that I am here, I envy you. I want to be you!

You were eager to step out of home into the world. I – want to go back home – in that cosy childhood room, where cold-coffees magically appeared on exam nights, where you wrote slogans like “The more you sweat in peace, the more you bleed in war”, where you listened to Munnabhai MBBS’ “Chhan Chhan” every night in PLs before the 12th exam.

You were good, you know?! You didn’t have to burden yourself with everyone’s expectations of your score in HSC. I wish I was there to tell you that. You did the right thing by whiling away 11th – eating samosas on the road everyday after college, trying to get permission to see the frog dissection in Biology class – just because you were curious, getting all cheeky when teachers shooed you outta class for something you’d not done and then smiling when they acknowledged that they got to know that you weren’t the mischief maker.

You gave your best towards life. You tried to indulge in sports, you spent evenings on the terrace waiting for the first star to appear, you played your heart out on the snowy cotton that used to be at our place every Ginning season.

Hey, how did I forget Chunky! You made your best friend at 15. Chunky, the great – who grew up from a kitten to a mother cat to a veteran grandma cat. She was your sole companion in happiness and sadness. I think she’s the one who made me what I am. She taught you to be fearless (as a kitten), to keep your inner child alive (as a grown-up cat), to learn to detach from worries (when she hunted – all focused or when she rested – all carefree). Now, I have most of those traits. (Only, I lack in the physical fitness department – she was a great athlete! I am not. 😛 )

You know you liked a boy from your class? Aah…I know what you’ll say – “Everyone likes a boy from their class when they’re 15”. I agree. It’s that magical an age, isn’t it? I just wanted to tell you that you are now married to him! Awesome…eh?

So yeah, that’s pretty much what I gotta tell you right now. You’ve turned out okay…not as famous or successful as you had imagined. But you’ve got most of your dreams fulfilled. You wanted to be an engineer – you are one. You wanted to get married to a guy who fulfilled your checklist – he does. What’s more…you knew him already! You wanted to write – you’re doing that. You wanted work to be interesting – you love your work. (Politics, movies, RAW; you ask? Oh, who knows! They may happen as well. 🙂 )

I just want one thing from you. Give me the hope you had for life ahead. For you, every year ahead was a possibility. Yet, you weren’t freaked out by the unknown. You loved to wake up and LIVE the day fully. I do that too…but I get tired – physically and mentally. I think too much kiddo. Give me your ability to block worrisome thoughts and live in the moment. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?

The 28 year old you.