Express News Service
MYSURU: While cycling on holidays with friends is a joyous pastime, this 49-year-old dentist from Mysuru is riding the sports track for the ‘long run’. Dr Usha Hegde is one passionate athlete whose love for sports simply proves age is just a number.
Originally from Bengaluru, Dr Usha moved to Mysuru. She underwent her first serious athletic long-distance training in 1987 at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. Over time, she learnt to cycle, swim, run and trek, and has participated in several events – endurance running, duathlon (cycle and run), triathlon (swim, cycle and run), winning medals and accolades.
Running the 10K and half-marathons for 10 years made her take on the more exhilarating full marathon – a gruelling race covering 42.2 km. She started cycling through Mysuru-Ooty, Mysuru-Goa, and Manali-Leh. Her race to the triathlon track has been gradual. “Triathlon is very challenging because it involves swimming, cycling and running in one race. Even if one manages all the three, doing it as a single sport, back-to-back needs a lot of physical adaptations and a tough mental makeup. But with proper training, it is not impossible,” she says.
Speaking about the prospects, she adds, “Triathlon is an expensive sport, not just participating in an Ironman event, but also training for it since we need to possess a lot of things. For elite triathletes, there are sponsors, but generally, it is self-funded. However, the sport is picking up in India now.” She says, “After training hard, participating in an Ironman event is like an icing on the cake.” Dr Usha has some advice for budding triathletes. She feels that one needs to understand the different aspects of the sport, train sensibly with a proper regimen.
And how does a dentist balance her profession and passion for sport? “It’s just a matter of prioritising our passions and work and managing time appropriately,” says Dr Usha. “I wake up at 4 am and start practice by 4.30 am. I neither watch a lot of TV nor go out much. My fitness time ranges from 7 hours a week to about 16 hours, based on the event and training plan,” she says. Dr Usha follows a balanced diet, eating three proper meals and two small bites in between. She has avoided junk food since childhood. Dr Usha is married to orthopaedist Dr Ajay Hegde and is the mother of two children.
Besides being a good sportswoman, she has been strong in academics as well. She was the university first rank-holder in graduation and bagged three gold medals too. A word of motivation for women who wish to power the race track. Says Dr Usha: “The sheer role of women makes it difficult for them to prioritise health over others at home. But we women should make time for ourselves, and not give up on our passions.”
What is Ironman Triathlon?
Ironman Triathlon is a one-day long-distance triathlon race. It starts with a swim (3.86 km in sea/river); followed by 180 km cycling and ends with 42.2 km running.
All these must be completed in 17 hours and Dr Usha completed it in 14 hours 30 minutes in Busselton, Western Australia, on December 1, 2019.
Dr Usha Hegde has won numerous medals and accolades in long-distance athletics like duathlon and triathlon