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Interview With Subramani Venkatesh: India’s First Kona Qualifier

On 24th July 2016 at Ironman Lake Placid, Subramani Venkatesh (Subbu) went on to become India’s fastest Ironman qualifier for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Considered as one of the hilliest and toughest courses on the Ironman Circuit, Subbu set a record time of 9:51:49.

Currently, Subbu, is the fastest Indian to have done a Sub-10 hour Ironman twice. He is the only India to have claimed a podium in an Ironman Race by finishing second in his Age Group. Not only that, after a 3.8k swim and 180.2k bike ride, Subbu also Qualified for the Boston Marathon with a timing of 03:09 hrs. We got in touch with this champion who likes to race against time and is a 2015 RAAM finisher (8-member team champions).

To give you more insights on his nutrition and training, we got in touch with him to present you behind the scenes-

How does it feel to be the first Indian to qualify for Ironman Kona?

I am happy and proud to qualify for Ironman Kona, Hawaii. Proud that Indian-born racing at Kona through qualification, it’s a dream come true.

What was the greatest challenge you faced training for the Ironman qualification?

Since I am not pro, one major challenge I always face is balancing day today life, 40hrs work and minimum 15hrs of training  for a week. And motivating yourself in peak weeks is challenging when you have busy work.

Tell us a bit about what the training involves? Also, can you give us a typical schedule of a week’s training that you followed?

Training totally focused on swim, bike and run, developing endurance for 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike and 26.2 miles of the run. Along with endurance, focus on intensity to develop speed and perform at a higher level.

Add extra hours to address functional strength, stretch, and Yoga.

A typical training week involves 3 to 4 swims in a week. Out of the three, two of my swims are focused on speed while the third one is focused on endurance.

Also, open water swim and 3 to 4 bike rides in a week, which includes- one hard interval, two easy and one long endurance

My training also has 3 runs a week where two are focussed on speed intervals and one on endurance.

Besides that, I also practice Yoga twice a week for about 3 minutes.

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If you were to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

Yes, I will add more swim and bike workouts in peak weeks and include strength training. In peak weeks, I was not swimming as much as I should, so I will focus on it more. Whereas, when it comes to biking, I will add more hill training.

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Did you have to give up a regular life to training for an Ironman?

Not really, training for Ironman is a new lifestyle, we will adapt to it, and I enjoy this lifestyle. As you go along in this direction, you make the same group of friends and you tend to be living the life you want to. So, I don’t really think I am missing anything.NewburyportFuel2 (1)

What would be one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring endurance athlete?

I know a lot of endurance athletes want to Jump into long distance racing at an early stage in their career. During this period with too much volume training, chances of burning out or getting injured are high.

If you want to continue what you love for longer, my suggestion is to start with small goals, build slowly from one distance to the other, and train your body to adapt to volume and intensity. Also, don’t forget to do a lot of homework before you sign up big races. Whether you are short course racer or long course, you are still an Athlete; respect yourself and respect your body.

Last but not least, follow structure training.

What is your message to someone who’s about to embark on his dream?

Do not worry about making mistakes,  every time you do wrong, you are learning something new about yourself and a new subject.

What was going through your mind for Ironman qualification?

I was emotional, I wish my parents were there to share my Joy, that is exactly what I was thinking.

What was your diet and nutrition plan?

No specific diet plan, just eat real quality and nutritional food, measure what I eat, and when to eat.

Typical day’s diet looks like this

Breakfast : Coffee and Oat Meal

Lunch: Salad and Fish/Chicken Sandwich

Dinner: Salad and a typical three-course meal ( Potato/Rice with Fish/Chicken and Some veggie)

Snacks: Nuts and Fruits.

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How are you planning to prepare for Ironman Kona?

Currently recovering from IRONMAN Lake Placid  (IMLP), and focusing on the bike only for Mt. Washington Road Race.

I have 6 weeks now, next four weeks will focus on a few things related to race environment, like adapting to heat and humidity. Training will also focus on slowly increasing my volume as I did for IMLP.

What’s next for you in life?

Get better what I am doing now; advance my Swim to 10K Marathon.  Me and My coach discussing a few things for the next two years, let see how 2017 unfolds, but I am planning to go back to IMLP.


Special thanks to Subramani Venkatesh

Written By

Abhishek Tarfe is a Certified Bike Mechanic from Park Tool School. He enjoys teaching people how to cycle and loves going on multi-day tours. Besides, he loves dogs and coffee. Follow his madness on Instagram

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