From Non-Swimmer to Ironman 70.3 World Championship Qualifier
Ten Questions with Himanshu Puri
Somewhat of a rising star in India’s local triathlon scene, Himanshu Puri is making an impact in just a few short years – from a non-swimmer to a 70.3 World Championship qualifier. In doing this, becoming a role model to many in Gurgaon, India’s triathlon community there. And being an assistant coach, he’s helping others achieve their triathlon goals too.
Despite tough competition, Himanshu qualified for the 70.3 World Championship not in his home race of Ironman 70.3 Goa but instead in the much more contested Ironman 70.3 Bahrain with wider, more competitive fields.
A proud wearer of PURPOSE gear, we caught up with Himanshu to ask about his inspiring triathlon journey and future goals.
1. Where are you based? What got you into triathlon?
Himanshu: I am based out of Gurgaon, India. I was an endurance cyclist for 2 years, doing long cycling was totally in me but soon I realized let’s get into other sports which complement each other I heard about triathlon but swimming was not my cup of tea so I started preparing for duathlon. Did my first multi-sport event in 2019 at Delhi International Triathlon – Olympic Duathlon (5 km run – 40 km cycling- 10 Km run).
At that time I was totally new to running and I started running that year itself but as I was an endurance cyclist my legs were strong enough to handle short runs. After attempting multiple long-distance cycling events in 2019 like PBP and various brevet I ended up venturing out for a triathlon but still had no swimming skills. One thing I have realized is that you need to take up a challenge only then will you start learning new skills.
So I started looking for local triathlon events, and again I found out Delhi International Triathlon 2020 organizes a sprint triathlon (750m Swim in a 50-meter Olympic size Pool), 20 km bike, and 5 km run). I thought this was a good challenge and post registering for an event I started learning to swim in November 2019. I finished 4th in this event.
2. Did you ever think you were going to be this good? What was your sporting background before triathlon, if any?
Himanshu: I never thought I would be in sports as I was 120 kgs but once I got into sports I realized how fitness helps keep you healthy. I will say I am still improving with each and every event. As every event gives you new learning which I can inculcate in my next event.
3. So you qualified for the 70.3 World Championship in Finland. How was the Bahrain 70.3 race for you? Was this something you had expected?
I went to Bahrain 70.3 race with a vengeance as I was targeting something which I didn’t achieve in my IM 70.3 Goa race. Fortunately and with the help of my coach Arjun I not only achieved my Personal Best but also qualified for Ironman 70.3 World Championship happening in Finland in 2023.
4. What were your goals going into the race? How did you feel when you found out that you qualified?
My Goal was to get my PB. The plan was set by my coach. I just wanted to execute them with balanced nutrition. After I finished my race I didn’t realize I qualified for the world championship but after knowing it I realized finishing the WC race will not be easy and I need to train harder so that once I am standing at the start line I feel stronger than ever.
5. This makes you an inspiration to not just yours, but to an extent, also the Indian Ironman community. What advice do you have to give to newcomers to the sport or even those that are contemplating joining?
Himanshu: I am still learning this sport but whatever I have learned I would recommend don’t rush, always seeing your skills and then registering for an Ironman event as it is an expensive sport. Also, don’t go to any particular event with the mindset of just completing it. I see a lot of people doing this prepare yourself and set a target and then work towards that target.
Also, test your skills in local events and graduate by doing short-distance races like Sprint Triathlon or Olympic Triathlon and once you are confident enough then sign up for an Ironman event. Get a coach who can help you train injury free and make sure you are not overdoing a particular sport.
6. What’s your typical training program like? What did you do that is more special as the race gets closer? Any hurdles, setbacks, or gains from them?
Himanshu: I have one rule during my training and which I follow wholeheartedly and that is your coach knows more than you, and my Coach Arjun Kandikuppa has always given me training which has helped me to gain confidence and I know if I register for a race I will not let him down. I have been training under him for the last 3 years now and his module has helped me go injury free.
Closer to the race, eat well, sleep well and reach your race city at least 3 to 4 days prior to the event as we all have anxiety before the race moreover acclimatising with the local weather is very important. First thing first set up your bike as that is the most technical thing. If something goes wrong you can always take help from an official bike mechanic.
7. Is it off-season for you now? What are your plans leading up to the 70.3 World Championship in Finland?
Himanshu: For an athlete like me I prefer not taking off season whereas I like training my body all 12 months. Yes, I take a break which is like 15 days or so but I keep training and follow every day’s workout in a very disciplined manner. I am planning to race in May in Vietnam which will lead to the world championship in Finland happening in August 2023.
8. Now that you know what your A-race will be for 2023 how does it change your plans?
Himanshu: My A race will be the 70.3 World Championship and for that, I am training harder and putting in extra effort as this will be the once in a lifetime opportunity where I will be standing with the best of the best in the world so I want to finish with great numbers and perform better on the world stage.
9. What was in your racing arsenal? What’s the setup? Must-haves? Good-to-haves? Recommendations?
Himanshu: First listen to your coach and that’s what I followed. He gave me a target and nutrition plan which I followed without thinking twice. In my nutrition, during the race, I was carrying SIS Beta Hydration in which you get 80g carbs, SIS Beta Gel in which you get 40g carbs and a few energy bars.
As a carb-based athlete, I recommend a run up of a solid carbs-based foods before your race and focus on hydration as that is very important especially when you are racing in hot conditions. Also, you should have a good tri suit. I have always believed in Purpose apparel as they create cycling or triathlon apparel keeping Asian conditions in mind.
10. Any shout-outs, kudos, thank yous or special mentions? Pretty sure there are many. Feel free to list them all.
Himanshu: My biggest shout-out is to my Coach Arjun Kandikuppa as without him I would have not been standing at the start line of any Ironman 70.3 race. My team, also known as Team Tritaniums consists of Vivek, Malay, Jaswant and me. Also, my friend Rani Maheshwari and my bike support partner Kunal Goyal (Cyclocraze/Cyclofit) last but not least my family as they are the ones who are my backbone as they have let me follow my passion and always contributed to each and every aspect of my life. Thank You all of you.