If you ask Kaustubh Radkar, 13-times Ironman Finisher across six continents and India’s First Ironman Certified Coach, what discipline means, he will softly say ‘Discipline is a structure- a good understanding of your role in the society’. For lesser mortals like us, who think 42 km full marathons are super-human stuff, it is tough to even imagine a race that includes a 3.86 km swim, a 180 km bicycle ride and a 42 km run, in that order, without a second’s break. That’s Ironman for you, the toughest triathlon in the world, and this man, has finished it 13 times in a row, in all the continents of the world. Beat that.
It is only natural to want to know how it all started. A National level swimmer for India between 1995 and 2001, Kaustubh moved to US in 2001 for a degree in Healthcare Management at John Hopkins University, Maryland, where, in spite of the grueling academic schedule, he kept up his passion for fitness and training and continued to run numerous marathons like the New York City Marathon, Marine Corp Marathon and Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. However, it was only when he moved to Colorado for a job and was surrounded by numerous Ironman enthusiasts, that the idea of giving this prestigious race a try occurred to him first. Addicted to challenge as always, he stepped up to the prospect and soon finished his first Ironman, addicted by then to the larger-than-life aspect of this race. About a decade and a lot of fame later, he holds the record for the fastest Indian Ironman debut, has finished the race 13 times, and is all set to run the Ironman Championship in Hawaii next year.
So, as a classic example of a generation half of which claims to not find time for anything close to exercise, let alone fitness training, I am intrigued by Kaustubh – I want to understand what keeps him going. To which, he quaintly tells me- ‘I am addicted to the challenge now’. Having tasted success himself, his next target is to train 100 Ironman Finishers from India by 2020. He runs two firms now, called RadStrong and RadRx – with RadStrong he is living his dream of coaching young athletes, and covers a broad spectrum of services, ranging from personal fitness coaching, endurance training and triathlon training, while RadRx focusses more on people with chronic heart diseases and cancer, and leads them to a better quality of life with proper exercise and diet.
As one of the most revered names in the Indian triathlon runners community today, Kaustubh has a simple advice for the young and the lazy. He believes that physical fitness is a life changer, and exercise is the most natural answer to most of our problems, physical or physiological. One must first learn to start, and then to respect his or her own efforts. ‘Set yourself a goal’, he says, ‘And keep challenging yourself. Your efforts will award you in ways you can’t even anticipate’.
So, all you marathon/triathlon aspirants out there ,its time to get those pretty running shoes to work. Let’s start small, baby steps at a time, and who knows, in a couple of years, you might find yourself running alongside Kaustubh in the Ironman Championship at Hawaii. If not, you will always have the luxury of knowing that you did your heart and mind a favor! And yes, the tummy too!