Deepak ranks among the top triathletes in India with 18 full ironman finishes to his credit.
Each one of us likes to pursue happiness with passion and purpose. Happiness is an emotion with blunted edges. We devote immense amounts of time, effort, energy, and money to find happiness. For some happiness is in challenging themselves, physically and mentally. One place that many people look for happiness is at the finish line. They move the finish line higher up the corporate ladder, a greater net worth, or a longer distance. They then recalibrate their goals in the belief that what they are looking for is out there, just farther than they thought.
Deepak Raj was an IT professional employed by a major firm. He was overweight and took up running as a way of losing weight. He ran his first full marathon in 2002 and then over the next few years he continued his fitness regime with more vigour and passion, and moved on from running to triathlons.
On his transition to triathlons, he says, “It sounded like a good challenge when I saw it on TV. Seeing the triathletes cross the finish line, walking or running, is what I imagined heaven will be like. They are cheered and embraced by loved ones on the other side. They are given whatever help they need. Slowly, I refined my eating habits and kept up my fitness regime. Over the years I have made fitness part of my lifestyle and continued to stay active having completed 18 Ironman Triathlons with a best time of 10 hours and 19 minutes."
For the uninitiated, Ironman races are downright crazy, incredibly gruelling, expensive, and often disappointing. It requires a sustained athletic performance at low intensities for long distances or periods of time. They aren't just for the swiftest or the strongest, but for those with grit and determination, and, most importantly, you have to be mentally tough to take you through tough times and remain focused.
Been a working professional, training for a tough sport like Ironman can be time-consuming and requires balancing of work and family. Deepak says, "Staying disciplined to schedules, better time management and support from the family helped me in staying focused and consistent in my training. I was lucky to have the time, stability, and choice to figure what I wanted."
He quit his corporate job after 13 years and took up the online coaching for aspiring triathletes. “I have enjoyed my journey so far and the journey continues. Maybe there is another finish line somewhere. Now I spend my days helping people push through their comfort zone and start playing (a little) bigger. Together we are trying to redefine success and balance so they can achieve their highest potential on their own terms.”
Originally reserved for uber-toned fitness fanatics wearing obnoxiously colourful spandex, triathlons are now accessible to anyone and provide good motivation to get into full body shape. Deepak is establishing a legacy as one of India’s top triathlete-cum-coach and is focused on popularising the sport of triathlon, taking it away from the small cult of loyal followers.
The pursuit of passion results in a change of some sort — to ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, or just our early mornings.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org