Featured, Motivation Comments Off on All conquering Triathlete |

All conquering Triathlete

In conversation with Siddhant Chauhan, Nandini Reddy finds out how this Corporate Communications expert became a certified Ironman Coach. 

Siddhant Chauhan, 36 yrs, working as Deputy General Manager – Corporate Communications and CSR with Nissan Motors India. He is also an Ironman Certified Triathlon Coach (completed last year) and Assistant Coach with Yoska under Deepak Raj. He recently completed the Cetlman – Extreme Scottish Triathlon is considered to be one of the toughest triathlons in the world which has seen only 1200 participants from across the world since its inception in 2012.

Triathlons completed so far Ironman 70.3 Bintan 2016, Ironman Nice 2017. Super Randonneour for the 2016-17 season.

Being a triathlete isn’t a decision that many people make, how did you decide to become one?

You are right. It wasn’t an overnight decision. I got introduced to the concept of triathlon at a time when I wasn’t pursuing any of the three disciplines required. On the contrary, my lifestyle was quite sedentary. I hated long distance running and when you stack it towards the end of a triathlon, it was definitely not the most attractive proposition. So I first began by getting comfortable with running and eventually cycling. And one thing led to the other.

At what stage of your journey are you as a triathlete?

In 2014 when I was working for Reckitt Benckiser India, then CEO Nitish Kapoor threw a challenge of running a half marathon and raising funds for our charity partner. I guess once I was able to successfully finish a half marathon, it gave me a confidence that I can take a shot at doing a triathlon. However, it was a step by step process and as you rightly said, it did not happen overnight.

 

What is your advice to anyone who wants to take up an endurance sport?

I am an amateur in endurance events, but with whatever limited experience I have, my advice will be:

  1. Have a goal and chalk out a roadmap to achieve that
  2. Invest in a good coach for a structured training
  3. Building mental toughness is as important physical endurance
  4. Focus on nutrition and recovery
  5. And of course, compete with yourself first to become better at it

It takes a lot of mental strength to reach the finish line, how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

Absolutely! With a regular job and family, it is tough to dedicate hours towards training day after day. It is fairly easy to get off the track, but you need to keep reminding yourself why you are doing this. It has to be for your own self instead of any other ulterior motive. You practice this through your training blocks and on race day, you give your 100%.

The day before the big race, how do you prepare yourself?

It is not just about the day before your race, one has to get into the mould through the week building up to race day. I run the simulation of this build up during my training blocks and it has helped me. On the day before, I try to keep myself as relaxed as I possibly can and get a good sleep. I keep a close watch on what I eat and it is an important part of feeling good on the race day. On the lighter note, the intensity of the peak week can often make the race day feel like a cakewalk.

Earlier this year you conquered the Celtman, how was the experience?

Once in a lifetime experience – the intensity of this extreme triathlon cannot be comprehended by the race video or report. The course is tough and the weather is harsh.

To give you a quick view of what it entails:

  • SWIM – 3.4K in cold (11 degrees), deep and jellyfish infested Atlantic waters
  • BIKE – 202K through cold, rain and winds through Scottish Highland roads
  • RUN – 42K over the Beinn Eighe mountain range (trail)

Celtman

From swimming in 11 degrees lake infested with jellyfish and riding in rain and cold winds to running across a brutal trail, there is no one part of the race which is easier than the other. It was quite a challenge for me as I trained for the event in conditions which were exactly opposite to what the race offered.

Watch a short video of the race – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaniAKBzoRg 

Do you follow a specific or special diet and nutrition plan?

Yes, I follow certain guidelines for my diet during training. And of course, nutrition I believe is the 4thpillar of triathlon – extremely important to fuel your body right to take you through the gruelling day in the field

Do you have a particular race that is at the top of your wish list?

Yes, Norseman and Swissman extreme triathlons are on my wishlist.

Who is your role model who inspires you to keep aiming higher?

If you look around, there are enough and more role models who inspire you to keep moving despite challenges in life. But if you ask me for one, it has always been Michael Jordan since my childhood days. But particularly in the sport of triathlon, there are so many pros who perform at unimaginable levels and it is always inspiring.

What is next on your agenda of races? 

For 2019, my focus is to improve my timing for a full marathon, aim for the races in my wish list and aim for ITT nationals.

 

You can follow Siddhant’s journey on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/siddhantchauhan/  

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Events, Featured Comments Off on Finishing the Tri Thonnur with Ajit Thandur |

Finishing the Tri Thonnur with Ajit Thandur

Deepthi Velkur in conversation with Ajit Thandur, a triathlete who is the founder of the Mysoorunners and the organiser for the Tri Thonnur.

The moment we hear “triathlon” often what comes to mind is a hard-core challenge like the grueling Ironman, a race consisting of a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike and 46.20 km run. But, on the contrary, this fun sport isn’t just for extreme endurance athletes. A triathlon includes short races spread across 3 disciplines (swimming, cycling, and running) that makes the challenge more engaging and fun.

The 3 most common triathlon races and distance are:

  • Super Sprint – 400m swim / 10km bike / 2.5km run
  • Sprint – 750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run
  • Olympic – 1,500m swim / 40km bike / 10km run

Ajit Thandur, a property developer in Mysuru has always been a fitness fanatic and keeps fit by hitting the gym, swimming and doing 5K runs. In 2008, after his first ever 21K Midnight Marathon in Bengaluru he took to running seriously competing in several half and full marathons. Building on this experience, he ran his first Ultra run in 2016 – a 50K run from Mandya to Mysuru and he quickly followed that up with a 12-hour stadium run covering 82 km.

An ex-triathlete himself, he had to cut back owing to a nasty cycling accident a few years ago but continues to swim at least 5 km a week alongside his regular running schedule. Ajit is a minimalist runner relying primarily on Vibrams and thoroughly enjoys running barefoot when in a stadium. He is the founder of the Mysoorunners – a running group in Mysuru that encourages running and living a healthy lifestyle. He also organizes events like the Tri Thonnur (triathlon event), Thonnur Swimathon and the Chamundi Hill Challenge (a running event) every year.

I spoke with him to find out about their upcoming event The Tri Thonnur on September 9, 2018 organised by Enduro Events owned by the man himself.

Enduro has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2009 – it must fill you with a lot of pride and joy. How would you describe the journey so far?

It all started with a passion for endurance sports and it is still the passion that keeps it going. Years ago, as a small group, we used to swim in the Thonnur Lake and we wanted to share the joy and experience of the amazing Thonnur Lake with everyone and not just ourselves. That’s how the first edition of Tri Thonnur came into being in 2013 which saw 30 participants.

With each passing year, have you seen the participant count increasing? If yes, how are you working on creating more awareness and getting people to participate?

The participant count for sure has been on the rise year after year. We build awareness through our Facebook page. Apart from that, the discussions and exchange of notes that happen on social media amongst like-minded people is what helps us in spreading the message across.

So far, you have 3 amazing challenges – the Swimathon, the Tri Thonnur, and the Chamundi Hill Challenge. Do you envision adding any other challenges/events / courses to your calendar?

We do plan on adding longer distance challenges to the existing three races. But we have no plans to add new races as of now.

2018 is your 6th edition to the Tri Thonnur challenge – how has this event evolved since it started? What kind of changes have been made since it started?

This event started 6 years ago and we had 30 participants attend who came to know of the event through word of mouth. In the inaugural event, we held the the Olympic distance. Today, we have included the Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distances with close to 300 triathletes coming from all over the country.

Tri Thonnur has gained the reputation of being the best open water triathlon in India and also the stepping stone for future Ironman aspirants as an ideal first time open water experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of location for the triathlon – why Thonnur?

Thonnur Lake is an amazing water body with clean waters and is extremely safe.

When organizing an event of such scale, you need a lot of planning. When did you start planning the 2018 race and how did you go about it?

We start working on the race a good four months in advance. Our base is Mysuru and Thonnur is a good 40kms away. We need to work on statutory permissions from government agencies, decide on the swim location based on best roads for bicycling, running and sort out the logistics as well.

Part of the challenge – the bike leg is an “open to traffic” leg. How do you take care of participant safety?

Where ever required we seek help from the police to set up barricades to slow/control traffic at junctions. We also have volunteers traversing the bike/run routes on bikes to make sure everything is going smoothly. They do intimate the medical support team in times of emergency or accidents. Sparsh Hospitals, Bengaluru has been our backbone med-support team for 4 years now.

You have a young and passionate team but to manage an event such as this, you will need volunteer help as well. Is this easy to come by? Do you run any campaign to encourage people to help?

Volunteers come from our Mysuru based run group Mysoorunners and ultimate frisbee team Girgitlae. We also appoint paid volunteers from the local village because they are well aware of the routes and the people.

Putting together all the learning from the past 5 editions of the Tri Thonnur – what advice do you have for the 2018 participants on the course?

For many, this may be their first open water experience. My advice to them is to look ahead after every 10 strokes or so to be sure you are heading in the right direction which is indicated by the marker buoys. Also, be careful with the traffic on the roads and do not speed on your bikes when passing through villages. On the run leg, always run against traffic.

What kind of challenges did you face in setting this event up?

The major challenge is with logistics, due to the distance of Thonnur being 40kms away from Mysuru.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Featured Comments Off on A General, a gentleman and an Ironman |

A General, a gentleman and an Ironman

Vikram Dogra embodies the true spirit of an officer and a gentleman and Capt Seshadri looks at this next rung of achievement in becoming an ironman.

Father, aged 96, a former Northern India boxing champion of the 1930s, who still walks for fitness every single evening. Wife, who has successfully completed several half marathons over the past two years. Two fit and sporty sons who are now keen to become Ironmen. An inspiration that spans three generations, and in the process, creating the only Major General in any army in the world to successfully complete an Ironman, that too well inside the qualifying timings.

Vikram Dogra. An officer and a gentleman of the Indian Army, who embodies the joy of physical fitness, through the sporting activities of cycling, swimming and running. In his words: “The Ironman triathlon is the most gruelling one-day event in the world. It is a test of physical endurance and mental strength. In order to accomplish this, a person needs to be committed, focused, passionate and disciplined. It is a realization of the heights of what we can achieve when we push ourselves beyond our physical limits. The training and preparation include both mental and physical conditioning, though the former precedes the latter. Training needs include aerobic performance, body and core strengthening, flexibility and nutrition. You must remain focused and committed; so, finally anything is actually possible.”

Austria, a country more famous for its contribution to art and culture, was the venue for the Ironman event. Maj Gen Vikram, a virtual greenhorn, found himself both overawed and intimidated even before the start, right from the registration desk. Says he: “It was a cauldron of people of different ages and nationalities. There were experienced athletes who had participated in numerous Ironman events before.” On the morning of race day, the entire city of Klagenfurt seemed to have come alive. All of seventeen hours, the official time limit for completion, was filled with cheering supporters, egging on every single participant, irrespective of where he came from, with a carnival-like atmosphere, music and more.

The finish line was even more electrifying, with loud music, cheerleaders and people lining the streets, giving that final impetus to the finishers. Recalls Maj Gen Vikram: “The feeling was ecstatic when my wife and some friends who were waiting for me, shouted out my name. My wife handed me the national flag and I ran the last 200 metres proudly holding it aloft. My feelings were mixed, but the outstanding emotion was the pride at showing off my country, combined with satisfaction, relief, and humility. Adding to all this was the voice of the MC proclaiming: Vikram, you are an Ironman.”

Congratulatory messages poured in from family and friends. For him, it was a dream come true; a culmination of untiring effort and ceaseless toil, inexpressible in vocal terms. Talking about the rigorous preparation, Maj Gen Vikram elucidates: “Training and preparation include both mental and physical conditioning, though mental conditioning precedes the physical preparation. Thereafter, you need to be physically trained to complete the event within 17 hours. This took me the better part of two years. Initially, I focused on core strengthening and overall conditioning, building aerobic capacity and flexibility. It was only around four months earlier that I commenced specific Ironman training. I found that the three disciplines need both individual and sequential training to strengthen the different set of muscles needed for each. Diet, forming a very important part of training, had to cater for a daily intake of over 5,000 calories, comprising the right mix of proteins, carbs, and vitamins.”

As a soldier and a General, the demands of work could not be ignored, obviously with Ironman training eating in. On being asked about time management, Maj Gen Dogra responded: “Training for the Ironman had to be undertaken by me in the evening after I returned from work. I would typically run from 7 to 10 at night 2 to 3 times a week. Weekdays were utilised for swimming while weekends were reserved for cycling since that needed almost 6 to 7 hours to complete.” Secrecy was key here too, with none except family and close friends knowing of his training and participation. Which meant that there was no official time off to train, leaving him only after office hours at night, and on weekends.

Maj Gen Vikram Dogra sums up his extraordinary achievement thus: “I am indeed lucky to have a family that supported my eccentric training routine without once questioning my sanity. It goes to the credit of my wife, Supriya, that she tolerated my waking up at 1 am and going off to cycle on the expressway and returning at 8 am, or taking off after office to run 20 kms and coming home by 10 pm. I had stopped all socializing but she never once protested.”

Much to sacrifice indeed. Far beyond one’s call for duty to the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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