In conversation with Vinolee Ramalingam, the Chennai based Triathlete who has never let any obstacle deter her.
Ironman is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of non-compete to endurance sports, how did you choose to take it up?
I started out again to get my body and mind into shape. I didn’t have any endurance sports in mind, as I was focused only on swimming. In my city Chennai, there was a triathlon event around that time and My friends and well-wishers pushed me to take up that. That’s how it happened and rest was history, as I was completely into training and participating in it.
Finishing two Ironman’s and setting a new record, how did that happen?
Participating in an Ironman was not for any record, rather it was only for my own self. I needed to see where I am, and how to fit I am. Being a short distance national athlete (100m,200m) and national swimmer, my mind was and is into sports from my childhood. All my dream and my father and brother’s dream was to represent India at an international arena. When I did that, it was kind of exhilarating and I was addicted to it. That’s what is pushing me.
You have now set your sights on the World Championship, how would you be preparing for it?
World championships are always a dream of a triathlete. For it, I got to train harder and smarter. Need twice or thrice the dedication level which I have now to go to that level. I have got my training plans altered to that, have identified my lagging areas, and am now working more on it. Also, we have analyzed the effort which I did for the two Ironmans. With that as a reference, I am looking forward to an improved training.
What advice would you give to a newbie who wants to try an Ironman event?
An Ironman aspirant should have an open strong mind to even choose this event. He /she should have a structured training plan which will help them in concentrating on each of the legs individually. He/she should be very strong in their basics. They may be a good swimmer, but without knowledge of the bike, they will have trouble. A sound mind to accept whatever may come as output, be ready to push through. My motto is “No way out, Push Through”
How has your family viewed this change?
My family have been supporting me from day 1 when I told I am planning to pursue this. They were happy and they started encouraging me on day to day basis. My kid, Vinesh, is so accommodating, he used to sleep in the car when I go for a ride, as my husband drives the car. Without family, I am nothing.
Who is your inspiration or role model?
My dad, Ramalingam, is my inspiration. He was a national medal winner during 1970s in Heptathlon. He decided things on his own and took up sports as his career, stayed as a coach until he retired. He was also the District Sports Officer. He encourages and coaches me and my kid for our events. He is coaching my kid for upcoming kids triathlon.
Do you work with a coach? If yes, what are the benefits? If no, then how do you plan your training?
Yes, I work with my coach, Xavier Coppock of Team TRI Coaching. He has trained many athletes and has made their dream of qualifying for World Championships come true. Working with a coach is always beneficial as they will know the right amount of training for each leg. And they will be on top of your training and will change it accordingly to your positives and negatives. We just got to blindly follow them
Do you follow a special nutrition plan before and during your race? Can you share a few tips about that?
I didn’t follow any specific nutrition plan, but I did mind what I ate. I had included more amount of proteins, enough carbs and minimal fat. I completely avoided all bakery items, aerated drinks. These kept me in shape. And of course loads of water.
The week leading to the race one should be drinking as much water and take more electrolytes to keep them in shape. If we don’t keep ourselves equipped with this, we will end up feeling exhausted during the race.
Plan earlier for the race. Keep adequate gels, salt capsules and electrolyte. Though the organizers will have enough supplementary drinks, it’s always better to carry our own. That way we will be confident during the race and need not fear if the next aid station carries water or not.
They say mental strength is the most important factor for an endurance event. Do you agree and how have you trained yourself to tackle the challenge the race throws at you?
Along with your physical strength, we need to have tremendous mental strength. We will have a lot of delusions and tons of questions, and you will be asked to quit and go to sleep. During the race, I used to talk to myself about my kid, my family and how they will feel happy when I reach the finish line. How they will be happily and patiently waiting on the finish line for me etc. If we have something to concentrate on and think on, then that’s a boon.
How have you changed as a person since you took up the training for the Ironman?
As a person, I started looking at things positively and started being an influencer indirectly and directly for many women, who think life is just to take care of kids and family and not have any kind of aspirations. Life is short, you are your best friend and your body is the only thing which comes with you till the end. My mind is now fresh, am happy because I do what my mind wants me to do. Indirectly I have changed my kid’s life, as he is happily taken sports as part of his day to day life, and is ready to stay fit.