Triathletes from across India are gearing up for two international events in October — Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and the Ironman 70. 3 World Championship in Utah, the US. If you’ve ever dreamt of training for this gruelling combination of swimming, cycling and running, here are tips from seasoned triathletes about how to go about it.
Training oneself to be equally good in all three disciplines — swimming, cycling and running — is the key. Triathlete Raghul Sankaranarayanan says, “None of the disciplines can be skipped for more than a gap of one week. ” Chennai-based triathlete Aarathi Swaminathan, who’ll be taking part in the Ironman 70. 3 World Championship in Utah, USA, in October, says that training differs from person to person. “But generally, an athlete who’s preparing for a triathlon trains for between 45 mins and one and a half hours every day. On weekends, it can stretch to two and a half hours. Also, four to five weeks before the race day, a person who’s preparing for a Half Ironman should do at least an Olympic distance triathlon. It helps in race stimulation and understanding how things would be on the race day. There will also be brick workout (see below) one day during the week. A rest day in a week is also important,” elaborates Aarathi, who’s also an Ironman coach.
Talking about building confidence in an athlete, Raghul, who’s preparing for the Ironman World Championship at Kailua-Kona (Hawaii) in October, states, “The better the triathlon training, the better the mental confidence. ” Blossom Fernandez, a triathlete from Bangalore, adds, “Training your mind to show up for practice even on days you don’t want to makes you a mentally strong athlete. ” Aarathi believes in visualisation. She explains, “As you swim, you think about how you cycle the best. Once you are on the bike, you think about how you can run and finish the race. While you run, you think aboutwhat will happen after the race, like sharing your experience on social media and the appreciation that comes your way. ”

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It’s a workout that includes two disciplines done back to back — swim and bike or bike and run. This helps athletes get their bodies used to switching from one discipline to another in a single race and maintaining the level of their performance.
Triathlon was first introduced in the Olympic Games at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Simon Whitfield of Canada and Brigitte McMahon of Switzerland were the first gold medal winners at the Olympics in the men’s and women’s categories, respectively. The mixed relay in triathlon was introduced at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, which was held last year.
Dr Muralidhar S Kathalagiri, a triathlete and a GI surgeon, who, too, is gearing up for the Ironman 70. 3 World Championship, says, “Before you get started with training, do the basic treadmill testing, nutrition screening, etc. I personally do annual health check-ups. Before my Half Ironman in Barcelona in 2021, I did a complete heart check-up (echo scan, treadmill test), lung function test, etc. Ensure that your heart is fine. ” Stressing that rest and sleep are important, triathlete Blossom Fernandez says, “Accumulated sleep loss leads to poor performance and delayed recovery. A minimum of seven hours of sleep is essential for an athlete. ”

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Ingit Anand, an Ironman-certified coach from Ahmedabad, says, “Diet and nutrition vary from one individual to another. I don’t go by the numbers. I eat what I consider clean and good food. The only number that I focus on is protein intake. I try to get 1. 2g of protein per kilogram of my body weight. For instance, if a person is 60kg, then 60 multiplied by 1. 2g is 72g. So, try to take 72g of protein split between four meals per day. ”
Ingit, who follows a plant-based diet, says, “For protein, I consume tofu, soy milk, legumes, pulses, sprouts, peanut butter, and plantbased protein powder, which is a supplement.”

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Aarathi Swaminathan, Ingit Anand, Blossom Fernandez and Raghul Sankaranarayanan (clockwise)
If a person is active and knows how to swim, bike and run, but has no prior experience, he should be able to do an Olympic-distance triathlon after training for three months. Another four months of training will help him do a Half Ironman. With one more year of training, he should be able to do a Full Ironman. He’ll have to do multiple Olympic and HalfIronman triathlons before a Full Ironman — AARATHI SWAMINATHAN, Chennai-based triathlete and coach
On race day, it’s basically a replication of what you did during the training period. I keep it simple. I take one sip of electrolytes every 10 to 15 minutes and one energy gel every 40 minutes. A lot of people consume a proper meal a few hours before the event, but I don’t do that during the training. After the race, I eat well — INGIT ANAND, coach from Ahmedabad
Sprint distance is good to start with. After completing a few sprint triathlons successfully, try Olympic distance. Then, start attempting Half Ironman and finally, the Ironman distances. Increasing distance is not easy as there is a lot to take care of, from training to diet — RAGHUL SANKARANARAYANAN, triathlete from Chennai
Don’t try to do it yourself. Being a triathlete takes up a lot of your personal time and you can save some of that when you have a qualified coach preparing your plans, leaving you only to execute them
— BLOSSOM FERNANDEZ, Bangalore-based triathlete
Pics: iStock


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