To achieve one's goals, despite their own misgivings, is the biggest joy that is there in life. And, I have been lucky enough to experience it in all its glory in this life. Success is not a destination, it's a journey and mine has been full of hardships. But, when I look back at my journey, it only fills my heart with pride.
I was in the last year of my schooling; I used to watch inspirational videos on YouTube. I came across a video on Team Hoyt (father-son team - Dick and Rick Hoyt) in which the father completed the popular 'Ironman challenge' to boost his son's confidence, who was suffering from cerebral palsy. The story moved me and inspired me to take on the challenge and prove my mettle to the world. In the video, they described the Ironman Triathlon as the toughest one-day endurance race in the world, consisting of three sporting events - 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42.2 km running that needs to be done in under 17 hours. I told myself that I will complete this race one day.
It was around the same time, the news of actor-model and fitness enthusiast Milind Soman finishing the Ironman challenge broke the internet. The momentuous day even more bolstered up my desire to finish the challenge myself. It was a promise that I made to myself. I embarked on the journey by taking part in half marathons, and finally, in early 2017, I started training for the Ironman Triathlon. The goal was to push my limits and prove that anything is possible if you are ready to go the whole hog. I also believe that if you wish for something with all your heart, the universe channelises the energies around you to make it easy for you.
In May 2017, I came to know about FITSO - a swimming coaching centre - and started my training under coach Gaurav Makkar. The biggest obstacle for me was that in the Ironman race, one has to first swim for 3.8 km within 2 hours 20 minutes and I didn't know how to swim. Not being the one to get shot down by limitations, I started to learn swimming plus worked on my aerobic base building rigorously.
Mukul Nagpal during Ironman Triathlon 2017 in Malaysia.
Another challenge that I faced was to manage and balance my time. With every week, the intensity and duration of the workouts was increasing. I used to wake up early to swim and do the rest of the workouts in the afternoon. But, with the physical and mental fatigue taking a toll on me, I decided to squeeze my work time from mornings till afternoons and focussed on training myself for the rest of the day.
Nutrition When I Was Training
Proteins And Carbohydrates Were My Staple Diet
For a long time, my workouts consisted of strength and bodyweight cardio, focusing towards the aesthetics, so my nutrition came from a high-protein diet with medium carbs and fats. Later, when my focus shifted towards performance training for the Ironman challenge, my nutrition intake consisted of high carbohydrates with medium portions of protein and fats. From eating chicken, fish and eggs, I started lapping up rice and pasta. I never used to like bananas, but due to their high carb quantities plus easy-to-eat feature, I started eating bananas.
For the Ironman challenge, Mukul added more carbs with medium portions of protein and fats to his diet.
Packed In A Lot Of Vitamin C
With long hours of training, high body damage is quite possible; therefore, to tackle this, I used to start my day with a healthy drink, which comprised one teaspoon of turmeric powder and gooseberry powder mixed in a glass of lukewarm water. This healthy concoction is rich vitamin C and antioxidants that kept me fresh and healthy. To add more vitamin C to my diet, I started consuming orange juice every day.
Energy Drinks To Keep Me Moving
I usually drink between three to four litres of water every day, so I hardly get dehydrated. I never really relied on energy drinks, but with my long hours of training in the hot Indian summer (and my tendency to sweat a lot), my supplementation shifted from protein shakes and BCAAs to energy drinks consisting of carbs with electrolytes and energy gels. My nutrition changed according to the workout I was doing every day.
To beat the blues, I also indulged in some desserts to feel good.
My sample nutrition intake was:
- Wake Up - One teaspoon of turmeric powder and gooseberry powder mixed in a glass of lukewarm water
- Breakfast - Two peanut butter sandwiches
- Noon - A handful of nuts
- Lunch - 150 gm of brown rice + 100 gm chicken and veggies
- Evening - Orange juice
- Dinner - 100 gm of pasta + 100gm fish and veggies
- During Workout - High energy gels and energy drinks
- Post Workout - One scoop of protein shake
A Few Bumps In The Road
I waded through my own set of obstacles during this journey. During my first Triathlon in November 2017, I bought a new bicycle and it was not a proper fit for me due to which, I injured my Achilles tendon. I had to slow down my running and cycling for three weeks to recover from it.
I was religiously preparing for the Ironman challenge, which was going to take place in Norway on 1st July 2017. I wanted to gift myself the 'Ironman' title on my birthday (2nd July), but unfortunately, my visa got rejected, which completely shattered me. I was so disheartened that I couldn't continue with my training for a month. But somehow, I pulled myself up and started to prepare for Ironman Malaysia, which was in November later that year.
I got stagnated on my swim timing and was worried about clearing the swim cut offs for the race and with some motivation and scolding from my coach, I pushed myself harder. I even swam in the cold waters till early October.
Mukul Nagpal completed Ironman Triathlon Malaysia 2017 in 16 hours and 18 minutes.
Reaching The Destination
Destiny takes you to places that you have never explored before. The saying that 'everything happens for a reason' came true for me when finally the race day came on the 17th October 2017, when I finished the race in just 16 hours and 18 minutes. In the biggest moment of my life, I was able to raise our National Flag at the finish line, where my girlfriend was waiting to give me the medal and I surprised her taking out a ring to propose to her.
Author is a fitness enthusiast who won Ironman Triathlon Malaysia in 2017.
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