On The Run | Anuradha Vaidyanathan
In 2009, she became the first Asian to compete in the gruelling Ultraman distance events, one of the toughest triathlon competitions in the world. Anuradha Vaidyanathan, 31, is also a veteran of the equally arduous Ironman triathlons, a series of races that consist of a 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bike race, and a 42.2km (marathon distance) run, done back to back.
In short, Vaidyanathan is one tough woman.
The Bangalore-based entrepreneur and athlete, who is the founder of PatNMarks, an intellectual property management firm, will be competing at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. She shares her running story. Edited excerpts:
When and how did you get hooked to running?
I started running in college to beat the stress of being in a programme with five women in a graduating class of 150 engineers at a top 10 college (in the US). I suppose running is my oldest friend.
What’s your running gear?
I am not a gear fiend, but I do like my Timex watches (Vaidyanathan is sponsored by Timex). I also use customized Puma shoes to support my peculiar feet, and run with my iPod Mini.
What is your regular training routine like, and how do you step it up before a competition?
Regular training is three-four sessions of each sport (running, swimming, cycling) in a week. Depending on the competition and the outcome I want to achieve, I step up the duration/intensity.
What kind of diet do you follow on race days (pre-, during and post-race)?
I don’t follow fad diets because they simply don’t work. I don’t eat gels and processed foods. I eat unprocessed cereals and lots of Indian food.
What’s your running soundtrack?
Lately, I have been running to Naturi Naughton’s Fame soundtrack, a weird but catchy set of tunes from a group called African Idli, and also 1980s’ rock.
How do you balance your work schedule and family life with running?
I use a watch, a calendar and a great team of employees to keep things on track! More seriously, I try to have a good attitude because I don’t think I have ever lived a balanced life and probably never will. Excellence is about lack of balance, not an excess of it. My husband and I work by our own rules, split up the house chores and take pride in sharing our life. I was always very independent, lived alone and paid rent on my own. I am pretty lucky because I have had the good fortune of having very hard-working parents and a very hard-working husband.
Tell us about your 2009 Ultraman Canada experience. Is it the most challenging event you’ve competed in?
It was a rite of passage in my athletic career and it was extremely tough. I have faced tougher challenges since, run higher mountains, and fallen more spectacularly. Persistence is synonymous with my sport and my core ethics, and to finish an Ultraman, you have to be persistent.The most challenging thing I have done is a solo 450km-plus bike ride over three days in New Zealand in 2009. No one knew where I was. I had a small backpack, five safety pins, a credit card, a change of clothes, my running shoes, and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. The day after that ride, I ran a half marathon and placed in the top 10. A week later, I ran the Mumbai half marathon and placed in the top 10. The Ultraman was cake compared with training hard for weeks and weeks on end.
What is your dream marathon, one that you would like to run?
I’d like to run the Antarctica Marathon before I die. Hopefully with a full on white-out in progress!
What’s the worst injury you’ve had while competing/training?
I was on my bike in Europe this May. It was raining, and my bike slipped on a turn. I had a concussion and my pelvis went out of alignment. It was so painful and so noticeable that one of my legs looked visibly shorter than the other after the fall. It took four weeks to start running again, seven weeks to run longer than 45 minutes, 12 weeks to get back to running pain-free, and a lot of physical therapy, which in India is hard to find, so that often lengthens the recovery process.
On the Run is a series that profiles India’s most enthusiastic marathon runners. In the lead-up to the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on 30 September, On the Run appears weekly.