How Running Helped Me Fight Depression and I ended up doing an Ironman

Guest Writer: Santosh Srinivas

Would you believe if I said I was fighting depression as a teen? Probably not!

But I did and I FOUGHT IT.

And I talk about it openly without any inhibitions now because back then I never really knew I was fighting depression so never spoke of it or even thought that speaking about it could help someone else.

It was one fine Sunday morning of 2012 that I experienced a shoulder injury. I was passionate about playing Table Tennis at a professional level. While people around me perceived it as an hobby that would indulge me into some physical activity, but the kid in me imagined the world standing up for me to the tunes of our national anthem “Jana Gana Mana”. This still gives me goosebumps but life had different plans. I was a National Player and was at the peak of my performance when reality hit hard. And I hopelessly had no choice but accept as it came. I knew my injury would shatter everything and it did within no time. I would cry myself to sleep and my pillows have seen the most tears yet helpless. For a 17 year old kid it was a lot.

In 2015, I decided to do my first ever long run of 3 kms which can neither be termed as Long or even a Run but I did. Thereafter I was clocking hours on the roads and logging miles which are obviously junk miles cause I did not enjoy them. But with the passage of time I started enjoying and most fortunately had met with the 3 amazing people, my mentors, namely Sanjeeb Sir, Manoj Sir and Lalit Sir. I often started running with them as they were training for TMM and learnt the most out of those runs. I still remember once during our 16km long run Sanjeeb sir asked me “Why don’t you do a Half Marathon?”, again little did I know what a Half Marathon was and I just replied with just a smile. Soon after I did one under his guidance and after crossing that finish line I was assured that now there was no looking back. The ENDURANCE journey started all from here.

As of 2022, I am an IronMan 70.3 finisher! For the uninitiated Ironman 70.3 includes 1.9km Swim, 90kms cycling, 21.1kms Running back to back with the maximum cut-off of 8hours 30mins, every stage had its individual cut off: meaning if I failed to make it I am not going to the next stage. Crazy it is to complete 70.3. 08Hrs 22mins 40secs is exactly the time I endured every aspect of life. It amazes me how changed a person I am now compared 2012!

I have evolved into an entirely new person, the strength I have gained from all those years of training , the ability to see life as is and yet put my best foot forward and never give up, has given me immense perspective and confidence. No great achievement has ever come easy to anyone!. So is this IronMan 70.3. It wasn’t easy because I merely had 12 weeks from the time I spoke to my Coach and told about my views, to which before a second thought he said “We will do it.” The training itself was not easy, not because it had so many workouts, never ending miles and long durations to be spent on the roads but everything wouldn’t go as planned because of my US and UK clients I am rostered every 2 weeks serving 2 PM to 11 PM and the rest 2 Weeks from 10 PM to 7 AM. This actually meant every 15 days my sleeping pattern, my eating habits and training schedules went for a toss. Don’t be surprised if I tell you all this training was done all alone sometimes on the busiest roads at 2:30 PM and sometimes at the wee hours of 2:30 AM when everyone was sleeping.

If I now look back at it I don’t feel anything except being proud of myself and being true to self.
As I pen down the last lines of this beautiful journey you must me wondering where is the
experience of the IM 70.3? All that showcased is about depression and ways to overcome it. I would have provided you with the experience of a lifetime but then I wouldn’t have done justice to it because you need to experience “your FIRST IRONMAN 70.3” and live in that moment.

This journey, from a depressed teenager to a tri-athlete, has been phenomenal in every sense and the biggest lesson that will forever be a part of my ethos is “We are stronger than we think. When you go light up the fire, remember to be a FIGHTER.”

Santosh Srinivas

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