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Indian Cycling

Interview with Ironman Sumedh Wavhal

While most of us are busy with our hectic work schedule trying to find time to work out, there are a few like Ironman Sumedh Wavhal who make the most of the 24 hours. Recently, this young Nashikiet made India proud by taming Ironman Vichy-France in 13 hours 17 minutes and 44 seconds.

Below is Ironman Sumedh Wavhal’s complete Interview that will give you an idea of his Ironwill!

How did this all start? What first got you interested in triathlon?

The genes for endurance sports are present in my family itself 🙂 My dad is a marathon runner and has been running the Mumbai Full Marathon for the past 10 yrs. My mom is also a half-marathon runner. In school days, I was a football player and used to run 6-7km with my dad. In 10th standard, I got injured while playing football and had to undergo left knee surgery.  After surgery, the doctor said that I won’t be able to play football nor run for long distances. Paradoxically, this marked the beginning of my running journey. I did my first half- marathon and marathon when I was 18 yrs old, in Mumbai. That’s when I got to know about triathlons and IRONMAN, and it seemed challenging and equally crazy to me.

I started training for triathlons, did Olympic distance triathlon in Pune, followed by IRONMAN 70.3 in Thailand (Phuket), when I was 20 yrs old, and then the IRONMAN Vichy-France when I was 21.

What’s it like living the life of an Ironman?

Accomplishing the goal of doing an IRONMAN not only improves one’s physical endurance but also strengthens the mental spirit. This gives a positive outlook and confidence in life.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Motivation, in my opinion, is a false-word, kind of bullshit. Motivation is something that you acquire from outside/enforced upon you and doesn’t originate from within your soul. It lasts for few days, and after that, you need to search a new source of motivation.

I am always ” driven ” towards my goal. That drive, that steadfast focus, that determination should arise from within. You should be insanely driven towards your goal. Nothing can stop an insane person. Don’t just challenge your limits; Shatter them!

How can a regular guy get started with triathlon?

For a newbie, my suggestion would be to first master any single sport i.e swimming, cycling or running. Then go for triathlons. Also, decide a goal, take out adequate time to train and commit to it.

What do you love most about Ironman?

> The tagline of Ironman – ” All you need is Ironwill. “

Ironman is a kind of experience that tests your physical as well as mental limits. In any endurance event, there comes a moment when the body gives up, it’s not possible for our body to withstand such long duration of physical exertion. You break, you fall down. But, that ” drive ” in you forces you to get back on legs. You search and collect every remaining piece of courage and stamina you have. You make an Ironwill. You awaken that hidden energy in you. And the journey to the finish line resumes…

What other Ironmans have you done, and what are your thoughts on comparing them to this one?

I have done IRONMAN 70.3 Thailand (i.e. half-ironman) last year. It would be unfair to compare and criticise both, as the country and distances were not the same. Still, I find the bike route of 70.3 Thailand more smooth and faster than France. But the crowd support and volunteers in France was just amazing.

How do you find time to train?

Being a 3rd-year MBBS student at KEM hospital Mumbai, finding out time to train for IRONMAN amidst the college lectures, hospital postings and exams was a bit tricky for me, but not difficult. For efficient utilization of available time, I had formulated a timetable for training and study and strictly followed the discipline. My mornings would begin at 4 am and I would be in my bed by 11 pm. Train and study were the only things that I used to do; no parties, late night-outs, birthdays, trips, etc.

One thing I found is that people who say they don’t have time for exercise and all, are lying. Everyone has time and is granted 24hrs per day; It just depends on how you utilize your time, and how much willing are you to take out time for that.

Tell us something about your coach and training?

My cycling coach was Miten Thakker, swimming coach Prashant Bendre and I took coaching from Kaustubh Radkar (Ironman Certified Coach) for last 2 months before the race. They were all positive and encouraging.

My training hours were usually 15-17 hrs/week and  I used to train 6 days/week. I incorporated Brick sessions and practice-triathlon sessions in my training schedule.

Tell us three things that ironman has taught you?

  • Never ever give up. Face the challenges and always believe in yourself.
  • Set your goal so high that it is impossible to achieve it; unless you evolve into the person who can and who will.
  • Enjoy the journey. Live every moment. Embrace the pain, sweat, and euphoria.

As you live in a hostel, how do you manage to take care of your diet?

This was the major limitation that I faced, but nevertheless, I found a way to tackle it. I relied on fresh fruits, dates, dry fruits, energy bars as my source of carbs pre- and post-workout. I used protein supplements along with eggs, non-veg to fulfill my protein requirement. Being a medical student, I could estimate my body needs. I cut down all the oily foodstuffs, fast food, and ghee from my meal; our normal Indian meal has enough essential lipids for our body.

In this context, my maternal grandmother who stays at Navi Mumbai helped me a lot. She used to send me high protein, carbs, and low oil lunch along with vegetables and eggs every day. This eased my problem of diet.

Three tips to anyone who is looking to do an Ironman?

  • Commit to a goal. Have a training schedule.>
  • Be persistent, unwavering, relentless, determined in your efforts.Make a point never to miss the 4 am alarm.
  • Enjoy and understand the journey. Let the endorphins surge in your blood! 😉

I’m thankful to VeloCrush India for giving me an opportunity to express myself and share my experiences.

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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