Mountaineer Harshvardhan Joshi becomes IRONMAN during lockdown to celebrate WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
Harshvardhan is a 24 y/o mountaineer from Vasai near Mumbai. He’d signed up for IRONMAN 70.3 Goa for November 2020, hoping to do a triathlon just for a different experience post Everest expedition.
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation consisting of an open water swim, a bicycle ride and a marathon run, raced in that order.
He was just going to train as a mountaineer and runner, lend a friend’s bike for a few days and finish the IRONMAN event if things went well. Since the Everest expedition was called off on March 15th due to the declaration of travel restrictions, he decided to focus on triathlons more seriously and he signed up for the race on the first day when registrations were opened on 24th March 2020. Then lockdown happened, just like many other good citizens, he didn’t step outside his home for 70 days. He’d workout indoors by skipping ropes and doing core exercises.
After a few weeks into the lockdown, he was facing mental health issues during the lockdown and was so inactive for at least 50 days that he weighed the heaviest in his lifetime during May-June 2020. As lockdown eased, he gradually resumed running. He also got an indoor bike trainer as the cycling segment is the longest distance in any triathlon event. He just got a second-hand bike from someone in Kolkata and started riding it on a smart trainer donated to him partially and rest paid for by taking a loan from his elder brother. Until August his plan was to race IRONMAN Goa 70.3 which was cancelled in the coming weeks. He decided to continue training as a triathlete before switching to the Big Mountain Training Plan for Everest which he also followed from last autumn to March leading up to the expedition.
In September, one of his friends and Everest expedition donor offered him to train in his inhouse pool for Harshvardhan’s future events. Joshi sent his 100m swim video to his coach and his form was pathetic but h was always happy to put in the work and keep falling forward. He started training multiple times every day, with planned recovery. Harshvardhan would wake up early, finish his run or bike, sometimes strength session too, eat, cook, work in front of the computer for 8 hours and ride a few kilometres every evening to the pool at his friend’s place to swim alone. His friends and followers on social media would think that Harsh only runs, bikes and swims in his life but he was also studying and working concurrently.
Joshi says that one good thing is that all endurance sports have very similar training science (aerobic base) and most activities in training complement each other. So just a few days ago during one of his training sessions, he visualised what if he could manage to squeeze in a self-organised, solo race that weekend before switching to his mountaineering training plan starting the succeeding week. He swiftly created a plan with few options of different lakes, potential routes and started checking the distances, elevation graphs online.
Ten days later, coming to the race day, Harshvardhan still believes that organising the race and logistics behind it was more difficult than racing it. His GPS tracked activities are available on Strava & Garmin. During the 21.1 km run leg, he says that his heart was pounding due to scorching October heat when the temperature went up to 41°. He ended up completing 1.9 km open water swim, 90 km cycling and a 21.1 km marathon solo and simultaneously in 7 hours 53 minutes.
With this small feat, Harshvardhan wants to reach as many people as he can to motivate them. Nothing would make him happier than making someone go for a run on being inspired after reading this millennial’s experience of struggling with mental health and becoming an IRONMAN during the lockdown.