For almost a year now, my Sunday morning ritual has involved my two boys with their bicycles. The seven-year-old “S” is the veteran – having a couple of years of cycling miles under his belt. The younger one “A” (almost five) is going through a cycling growth spurt. After graduating to the big-boy cycle 9 months ago, he has become virtually unstoppable. His feet don’t reach the ground yet so I taught him how to get off the cycle without mishap – it’s the getting-on bit which remains to be mastered. Does this constrain his bicycling? Not a bit.

As he bicycles around the inner Raheja loop, I run alongside – the only time in the week when I look forward to up-inclines (where he labors) and dread the down-inclines (where he canters). The few Raheja denizens who are up and about would have probably heard me mouthing one of the following: “SLOW down or I’ll have to stop you!”, “STOP pedaling when you are braking”, or “DON’T go through that puddle!”. Meanwhile, the older one is not content merely riding solo so he constantly creeps up, eggs his younger brother to ride faster, making me yell “Don’t come so close!” or Don’t make him ride faster”.

After every lap or so, I’d ask him whether he needed a water break. The benign question (that it was!) would usually be answered in the affirmative or negative. Lately, he’s been countering with “Do YOU want to take a break, Daddy?” He’s catching on, for sure. He’s also started to notice my labored breaths after a few laps, slows down proactively and adds, for good measure, “I’m going slow so you won’t get too tired!”. And then two Sundays ago, he dropped the bombshell.

“Daddy! Today I was cycling faster because I wanted YOU to run faster!” He added: “I want you to win the next marathon and… increase your running distance to 50k and then 100k!” The hunter had become the hunted. The trainer had become the trainee.

So where did this come from? On Sep 19, 2010, my two boys saw me complete my 4th marathon at Srirangapatnam and noticed that (hmm…) there were several people who finished before their dad. Regarding the 100k distance, I had introduced them to Yasuhiro Honda as “the fastest 100k ultra-runner in Bangalore” – apparently it had made an impression!

So if you are a long distance runner and tired of the boring routine of tempo runs, interval training, and gym routine, you know what to do! If you aren’t yet a parent with an appropriately old kid, well! look around you – I’m sure ONE of your married friends with kids can oblige. Now why does this remind me of that Volkswagen Jetta ad from 5-6 years ago?