How undergraduate student Sreya Muthukumar trained for her first triathlon
In February 2017, Sreya competed in the Delhi International Triathlon in the sprint category and won the second place, having completed the race in an even two hours.
Office of PR & Communications5 May, 2017 | 5 Mins read
April 2017: In 2016, Nike released a short video titled ‘Nike: Unlimited Youth.’ The video featured Sister Madonna Buder, an eighty-six-year-old nun nicknamed the ‘Iron Nun’, who still competed in triathlons despite her age. Moreover, the ad showed her proudly proclaiming that she had completed forty-five triathlons already. This video inspired Sreya Muthukumar, a third-year undergraduate student at Ashoka University, to compete in a triathlon herself. In February 2017, Sreya competed in the Delhi International Triathlon in the sprint category and won the second place, having completed the race in an even two hours. Sreya’s achievement came entirely out of her own sheer force of will and months of rigorous and disciplined training.
As soon as Sreya decided to take part in the triathlon, the uphill battle began. As a vegan, her diet already had restrictions; however, this diet became stricter in order to accommodate for the cardiovascular training routines. She did upto eight sessions of training a week, with each session ranging from thirty minutes to one-and-a-half hours. She continued her training fairly regularly during the monsoon semester, but fell out of the rhythm after a dance retreat and a two-week trip during the winter break. Returning to Ashoka after the winter break, with just a month to go, she picked up momentum once more, armed with a new bike that she brought to campus. One day, while talking to Yash Budhwar, a batchmate, she found he was interested in the triathlon as well. While they trained individually, Sreya said that it felt good to have someone else pushing through the same rigor as her. Sreya did find the training overwhelming sometimes; juggling other extracurriculars and academics sometimes felt like too much. However, she persevered, strengthened by constant support from her friends and family, and armed with the realisation that her reason for signing up for the triathlon hinged solely on her own desire to push herself. On the morning of the triathlon, full of adrenalin and nerves, a friend reminded her to have fun. Keeping this in mind, she tried to do the best she could, and during the race found solace in the energy and encouragement of the other participants. Ultimately, her efforts secured her the silver medal that now proudly hangs in her room.
When asked how she maintained the discipline that her training demanded, Sreya answered that, in fact, the training brought a lot of order to her life. She slept more, ate better and exercised regularly. She said that she would wonder about the point of it all sometimes, though overcame these moments of self-doubt. It was her decision to undertake such a challenging endeavour; it would be her struggle and her victory, and no one else had a say in whether she did it or not. For Sreya, the triathlon was symbolic of her ability to push herself out of her comfort zone. Sreya said that she wanted to share her story with the Bulletin so that perhaps it would remind the Ashoka community that there is a whole world that lies beyond one’s self-drawn limits. We view our lives with a very narrow perspective sometimes—we worry about our assignments and clubs and find it hard to look beyond these things. Sreya wanted her story to remind everyone that we should not only begin to look for the opportunities awaiting us in the world outside campus but also that we must seize these opportunities with both hands.
What’s next for Sreya? For now, she has decided to explore her other interests—music, dance, theatre and swimming. She will be attending a swimming championship in October in the 1.5 km category, which is the length of the swimming portion of an Olympic triathlon. She hopes that this will help her prepare for the 2018 Delhi International Triathlon, where she plans to compete in the next category of the Olympic triathlon.
( The writer is an undergraduate student )