Dr. Amit Ballani’s fitness journey began with a weight loss of 35 kg, acquiring 6 pack abs and running several marathons. In February 2018, he moved to the level of super fitness by completing the Ironman 70.3 challenge. Read his account.
My journey from being an overweight doctor who was in poor health, began some years ago. You can read the full account here.
To recount, a health scare pushed me into fitness. I began by running outdoors, and gradually built my stamina and resilience. As far as my eating habits were concerned, the only change I made, was to avoid junk food. With the help of a gym trainer, I lost 20 kg on this schedule.
To tackle the loose skin on my tummy, I added weight training. Soon I became an icon for people around, and everyone wanted weight loss and fitness tips from me.
Started running marathons
Eventually, I was fit enough to run several half marathons, a few full marathons, and even an ultra. My personal best for a half marathon was 1 hour 30 minutes.
Felt the need to raise the game
But, my journey from weight-loss to fitness, from fitness to marathons and ultra-marathons became monotonous. At some point, I was compelled to compete with myself and raise my game. So, I decided to try something new.
Triathlons have attracted me since the early days, so I decided to take on one. I registered myself for the half Ironman, called Ironman 70.3.
Training for the Ironman event
The Ironman 70.3 consists of 1.9km swim, 90km cycling and 21.1 km running in the same sequence. I began preparing for it 8 months in advance. So, in June 2017 I began with short distance “bricks”, a term used for combination of swim/run/cycle, according to the needs of the athlete.
Swimming isn’t a sport I am good at, so I had focus on it the most during my training. Gradually I increased the intensity, followed by sequential tapering one month prior to the event.
Sequential training includes reducing the volume and intensity of the training before the main event to ensure the athlete’s best fitness levels.
Suffered a major injury one month before the event
Despite my best intentions, I couldn’t avoid injuries during my rigorous training sessions. In fact, the greatest injury was ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome), just one month before the event during Mumbai Full Marathon.
This injury inflicted me on the 33 km mark, which I had completed in 2:35 minutes, an hour sooner than I’d aimed for. The pain was so gruelling, that I thought I’d have to quit and get a DNF (did not finish) tag.
But divine intervention, in the form of a little kid appeared with loads of ice, an anti-inflammatory spray and kind words that said “Uncle, only 9km to go, don’t tag a DNF!”. Amazingly, a little icing, pain spray and these encouraging words pushed me to finish the race.
But being a doctor myself, I was clear about the serious nature of injury- which I had compounded by keeping up the run, despite the injury.
Overcame all difficulties and earned the title of Ironman
After my injury, I was not in a condition to train. So, I underwent a rehab for 21 days. Obviously, I was unprepared at some level, for the Ironman event. Still, the rehab went well and I was back with only 7 days left, till the big day. This was the time to taper, but I changed my strategy and reversed it.
Finally, on the day of the event, I had a smile on my face after completing the Ironman 70.3, that too, without inflicting any injury. I was excited and proud that my hard-work and rigorous perseverance paid off!