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IIM Ahmedabad to IRONMAN Austria

Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh successfully completed the IRONMAN Austria 2017 full-distance triathlon to become India's first couple to complete the world's toughest single-day endurance race.

Their first experience with triathlon was at Hyderabad Triathlon.  In 2015, Kaushik participated in Olympic Triathlon and in 2016, both Vineeta and Kaushik took part in the Half Iron distance event at Hyderabad Triathlon.

Read on to know more about the India's first IRON couple.


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Tell us about yourselves in a few lines:

Vineeta & I met during our b-school days while at IIM Ahmedabad and got married in 2011. She’s been an avid runner for almost a decade now and has completed the 89km Comrades Ultra-marathon on 3 consecutive years between 2012-14. Although, I never really enjoyed long-distance running, I used to be the swimming captain in my university – so exploring a triathlon was sort of a “let’s meet halfway!”-agreement between both of us J Luckily both of us enjoyed our first triathlon experiences and push through till we completed our first full IRONMAN race. Professionally, Vineeta & I run a VC-funded beauty & personal care company that completes 5 years this month. We live in Mumbai with our 2-year old brat, Ranveer.


How many times have you participated in HT and in which events? Which is your favourite kind of race?

I had participated in the 2015 edition to get a feel of what a triathlon feels like. It took me almost 5 hours to complete the Olympic distance but I still remember one of the volunteers actually running the last 100m of the race with me while cheering me on – she was awesome! A year later, both Vineeta & I took part in the Half-Iron distance event to get some more practice and although the run in the blazing sun was tough – the overall experience was superb as usual.

  • Favourite kind of race for me would be: Any swim + flat bike + flat run
  • Favourite kind of race for her would be: Lake swim + rolling bike + any run


Why do you TRI?

I TRI to remind myself that good things come to those who can endure the rough patches in life/work and last till success reaches you. Over many triathlons, I have realized that somethings in life aren’t designed to be sprint so we have to keep putting in the effort with the belief that the reward will come – like it did on July 2nd after more than 16 hours of pushing ourselves on the course. For Vineeta, IRONMAN had always been a bucket-list item which made her face and overcome her fears about open-water swimming that she is now quite comfortable with.


How do you manage your training with a mainstream or full-time job/college/school?

With a two-year old son and a business to run, it was always going to be tough to train for an event of this magnitude, but we are lucky to have super supportive families, friends and colleagues. An interesting fun-fact is that Vineeta and I never really trained together. As one of us always had to be with our son, we split our timings so that Vineeta would take early mornings (5:30am – 7:30am) and I would take late evenings (8:00pm – 10:00pm) on most days. Weekends were when we planned our long bike rides where I took Saturday mornings and she took Sunday mornings – we couldn’t keep the long bike rides for the evenings because of safety reasons.


What workout pattern would you suggest for beginners?

For beginners, I would advise them to first focus on “completing” rather than “competing”. Once you complete an event, you get huge boost in confidence and can fearlessly plan subsequent events where you can work towards bettering your time. For your first triathlon, a rule of thumb I had followed earlier was that whatever distances you are planning on doing on race day, make sure you cover that distance in a week’s training. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can look at scaling it up or mixing some core strength building exercises with it (super imp!)


What are your pre-race rituals?

On the morning of the race, getting the pre-race nutrition right can be the key to you having a good race – so we’ve been quite systematic about that. A quick visit to the porta-loos + humming our favourite training music in our mind gets us ready to go before the race.


What is your favourite discipline in the race; Swim/Cycle/Run?

I’ll pick swimming in this and Vineeta will pick running. As far as cycling goes, both of us enjoy it but have miles to go before we can get to the speeds we would like to.


What was your best time till now and what would be your target for the next triathlon?

My best times are 3:26 for Olympic (Goa), 7:05 for Half-Iron (Delhi) and 16:29 for Full (IM Austria). Vineeta’s best times are 3:36 for Olympic (Goa), 6:53 for Half-Iron (Delhi) and 16:01 for Full (IM Austria). Both of us will look at shaving off at least 15, 30 and 90 mins from our next Olympic, Half-Iron and Full-Iron distance race.


What music helps you push your limits?

For Vineeta, it has to be inspirational music like “Eye of the Tiger” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Sometimes my playlist throws up cheesy Bollywood as well but it helps add a smile and keeps the feet moving in the middle of a tough race.


Would you recommend any book for beginners to train themselves?

“Anywhere But Home: Adventures in Endurance” by Anu Vaidyanathan – a fascinating read for those who seek inspiration. For training, there are many free plans available for Olympic and Half-Iron distance races on the internet. For a Full Iron, I would recommend purchasing a plan from www.trainingpeaks.com – that’s what we did and it helped in setting a schedule of activities.


How do you plan your diet for the race?

For a full-Iron race where we could be on the course for up to 17 hours, nutrition & diet is actually the key to ensuring that your body doesn’t shut down. If your body doesn’t shut down – you will keep moving and the finish line will come to you. So for the swim, you pre-fuel with energy gels as it is not possible to consume calories in the middle of the swim. For the bike, we targeted replenishing 3 things – energy (calories), water and salt – every hour. So for each of the hours we cycled, we finished 650ml of Enerzal + one energy gel + one salt pill. The run followed a similar pattern except that we increase the salt pill intake as the chances of cramping increase towards the run section of the race.


What do you do to recover after the race?

Mostly sleep, eat and assess the body for any injuries. With a day’s break, sometimes we have tried out a relaxing massage that seems to help in getting back quicker.


What precautions do you take to protect yourself from injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, ligament tears etc?

Core strengthening and strength training are not included in most swim-cycle-run training schedules but they are very very important to build your body strength that will let you push it through long distances and long hours. Simply training without any of the above can strain your muscle/ligament leading to downtime in training. Correct running gait and biking posture is also important to ensure that the body suffers minimal stress during long distance activities.


What motivates you to go through the rigorous routine and take part in a Triathlon?

Stories like that of Rick and Dick Hoyt – a father-son duo where the father actually competes in the full IRONMAN event with his physically-challenged son because he enjoys the experience. The ability to spread the message that fitness need not be long repetitive sessions at the gym alone – it could be swimming, cycling or running with a group – or best of all, an experience that combines all three – a triathlon!


Who's your role model in triathlon?

I like Jesse Thomas – a US pro athlete for his down-to-earth sense-of-humour and the many hats he juggles other than this. (he’s also the CEO of Picky Bars + doting dad & husband)


We thank Vineeta & Kaushik for sharing their wonderful journey with us and congratulate the couple for the extra ordinary achievement.

Its the stories like these that motivates and inspires each one of us at Hyderabad Triathlon. We are glad that we were part of this amazing journey of yours.