An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a swim (1.9 kms), bicycle ride (90 kms) and a marathon run (21.1 kms), raced in that order. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. Recently 26 year old Shivangi Sarda from Jaipur completed the Ironman 70.3 in Shanghai in 6 hours and 53 minutes. In a tete-a-tete with All About Jaipur, Shivangi reveals what went into preparing for this herculean race, her lifestyle, inspiration as well as her future plans and much more.
- Considering the Ironman 70.3 requires an enormous amount of physical and mental strength, give us an insight into how you prepared for the race?
It is absolutely true that preparing for an event like Ironman 70.3 requires a lot of effort both mentally & physically. My sports background helped me stay disciplined and consistent with my training. Since 2017, I have participated in various running events. My first long distance was a 5 km run and then I ran three half marathons before this event.
With no experience in swimming and cycling, my biggest challenge was completing these two courses with decent speed. I started training in May, exactly 5 months before the event. The training was quite intense. I trained 6 days a week which included a total of 9 different sessions.
Other than 7 event specific sessions which covered running, swimming and cycling, I also had 2 full body strength/ weight training sessions weekly. Gradually the intensity of the training increased which helped me improve my overall fitness. I did not have a coach for the event but my mentor Amit Chaturvedi, an Ironman himself guided and helped me prepare.
- What changes did you make in your lifestyle?
I have been following an active and healthy lifestyle for the past 2-3 years which aided my training. Following a clean diet , eating less processed food and avoiding sugar has been part of my lifestyle for some time now. Being a vegetarian it is very important to balance meals in such a way that one gets proper nutrition. I had to increase my calorie intake to support my training and had around 5-6 meals a day which included a lot of nuts, green juices, fruits, salads, pulses, etc.My mother played a major role in helping me maintain and follow a healthy diet regularly during the event preparation.
I had to make a big change in my morning schedule, as I started my day anytime between 4 am – 5.30 am depending on the day’s session. As a fitness trainer I had to juggle between my training and client sessions and I managed 5-6 hours of sleep. Sometimes it was a struggle as my clients would finish their sessions around 10.45 pm and then I had to wake up the next day at 4 am for my own session.
- How did you get inspired to participate in this event?
I had the chance to meet some endurance athletes while I was living in Melbourne and I was amazed to see how much people are pushing themselves, both physically and mentally. This inspired me to push myself and then I participated in obstacle races like Spartan and Tough mudder in Australia. Signing up for an ironman was never in my plan. I thought of participating in marathons and maybe duathlons (Running + cycling) as I never imagined myself swimming even for general fitness. A chance meeting with my mentor encouraged me to sign up for an ironman 70.3. My biggest motivation to participate in the event was to see how much I can challenge myself and improve my fitness levels overtime.
- What challenges you faced while preparing or at the event?
Some challenges during the preparation included working two jobs (I was working part time for an Australian company and setting up my fitness startup – Fitness.Trail) Swimming was the most challenging sport as my form and technique was poor which made me a slow and inefficient swimmer. I still believe that I can improve and will continue to work on my swimming.
Another challenge was the practice swim at the event venue in Shanghai. The practice was in the same lake in which the event was supposed to take place. I am very scared of open water and had no experience of swimming in a lake. At the practice swim I panicked and I could not swim more than 100 meters. In fact, at one point, the rescue team came up to me and said that they will have to pull me out of the event as I am not fit to swim. I requested them to give me 10 minutes and managed to swim another 300-400 meters. After that swim in the morning I was scared the whole day as I was sure that I won’t be able to swim 1.9 kms after such a bad practice swim. The time restriction limit of finishing in under 70 minutes added to the pressure. But, I believe it was the energy and vibe of the event and a positive mindset that helped me cope with my fear and motivated me to complete my swim in 61 minutes.
- What message would you like to give to the readers?
Human body is designed to be active and we all must take up a sport/ any form of physical activity in our life. Fitness is much more than weight/fat loss. It is a way of life which improves both physical & mental well being. Take out at least 30 minutes every day to go for a walk/ run/ workout at home or to your gym. You don’t have to follow an extreme fitness routine or diet to stay healthy or fit. Just follow a routine and diet which is sustainable for you.
- What are your future plans?
I am looking to participate in a few running events in the coming months. I will put in more effort and time to improve my swimming, cycling, running and overall fitness. I am also working on my fitness startup and I plan on expanding and contributing my bit by spreading more awareness about leading an active and healthy lifestyle.I am yet to decide if I will go for another ironman 70.3 or challenge myself by signing up for full ironman/ironman 140.3.