WHEN someone who is far fitter and has better hair challenges you to a race, you should always say ‘no’.

I was recently challenged to a 400m race by a childhood friend who trains for an hour a day and weighs in at a cool 77kg. I on the other hand have ballooned to 86kg. Whilst I have full faith in my ability I think some ‘Rocky’-type training is in order just to be sure.

The first training session took place last week and I have now realised that the 400m is a brutal race because it requires you run fast for the full length of the track. On my first attempt I made it around 300m around the track before I hit a wall.

I decided to cut it down to 200m which was not good either.

Six days in, I have managed to finish the 400m but not at pace. What I thought would be easy is turning into a battle of mind over body. The brain sees me racing to victory but the body is having other ideas.

I have however, seen a whole load of people, mostly in their fifties, running up and down the streets with ease. In the past I used to see these folk and think ‘I could easily do that’. I can tell you it isn’t as easy as it looks.

I was told it has got to do with building one’s stamina up and this can only be done by running longer distances.

I was also told to go into a gym. This is a place I have only been once in my life more than 26 years ago and that proved to be a complete waste of 30 minutes. I cannot see the point of running on a treadmill and I see no point of doing any weights.

As someone who was exceptionally quicker than many of my friends I was pretty confident that in a sprint I would be triumphant. There is now a slow realisation I may well lose.

Yet, there are still two months to go before the big day and that means I still have time to improve my running time.

The only thing I have on my side is the memory that I am and always quicker than my opponent. For years playing football I was far too fast for him. As years went by the Saag Ghosht (spinach and lamb curry) took its toll.

Cue ‘Gonna Fly Now’…