In the second chapter of our two-part interview, India’s very own Ironman, Dr Kaustubh Radkar shares his training strategies before a race, fitness and nutrition mantras and golden words of advice to those who are hesitating before taking the iron plunge into fitness.

You’re an accomplished ultra and marathon runner. What would you consider the most challenging race you’ve participated in till date?
In 2013, I did back-to-back races, such as the NYC 60km run where finished with a time of 5 hours 17 mins. The very next weekend I did the famous JFK 50 miler in Boonstown, MD; this is famous for its tough climbs. I managed to finish the race under 9 hours which was extremely satisfying. I also did the hardest ultra on the planet—the Leadville trail 100 which starts at altitude of 10,200 ft and goes further up. It comes with two river crossings, in sub-zero weather conditions at night. I sprained my ankle around the 20 km mark and still managed 80 odd kms on it, by the end of which it had swollen to a size of a golf ball, but it was worth it. That race really tested my spirit and made me mentally super strong.

I always say that nutrition is the fourth and a very important component of a triathlon. Good hydration and nutrition intake can be the difference between a finish and a did-not finish.

What’s your training routine like before an upcoming triathlon?
I usually have a good 6-month training program before an Ironman. That isn’t possible all the time due to various reasons, but I try to achieve at least 4 months of good training. Now, with experience, I focus a lot on quality of training than just quantity. I make sure I’m well rested and know when to back off during a hard workout.

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Nutrition is an inseparable part of reaching your fitness goals. What are some fuelling tips that you’ve gathered and followed over time?
I always say that nutrition is the fourth and a very important component of a triathlon. Good hydration and nutrition intake can be the difference between a finish and a did-not finish. I practice a lot so that I know exactly what I will need on race day. Initially, after moving to India, finding Gatorade was challenging, but I used to order boxes from outside cause I knew that’s what I would get on race day. It was the same with GU gels and bars: I have flirted with other brands but after a while certain things work better for a person. My tip is that stay hydrated and well fuelled right from the start, because if thirst or hunger strikes in between, you already are at a deficit.

As a practicing doctor in sports medicine, what are some of the life lessons that you think sports and fitness can teach people?
The biggest lesson has been to accept failures. While growing up, I wasn’t all that great in swimming initially, but I had faith and kept working hard to achieve national records and medals. Sports and fitness has taught me to be humble and made my outlook towards life very positive which is a blessing.

How would you motivate someone who’s never run, swum or cycled in his life to get started on their fitness journey?
I always maintain that health is of utmost importance. One of the key elements of staying healthy is to exercise every day. What sort of exercise you choose ultimately comes down to your interest and passion. It could be tennis, swimming, running or going to the gym and working out. But being active is very essential in today’s busy and stressful life—however you choose to do it.

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