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"Training indoors only option," says 32-time-Ironman Kaustubh Radkar as air quality remains poor

"The air quality has gone for a toss in recent times and the only option left is to train indoors as one must take into consideration the risk of training outdoors," he told The Bridge.

Training indoors only option, says 32-time-Ironman Kaustubh Radkar as air quality remains poor

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 18 Dec 2022 4:59 AM GMT

The air pollution levels in two of India's major cities – Delhi and Mumbai, continue to remain a major issue.

While the Indian capital city is a constant feature among the world's most polluted cities over the past few years, Mumbai's air quality over the last week has been worse than Delhi.

As per reports, while Delhi has made its way to 'moderate' in the Air Quality Index (AQI), Mumbai air remains rated 'poor'.

Under such conditions, training or working out in open air becomes a major issue for athletes. The Bridge spoke to Dr. Kaustubh Radkar – an MD, a 32-time Ironman finisher and Garmin coach to understand, how athletes across India can tackle this issue and continue to train.


Question: Did you ever have to train or compete in such a polluted environment? Did your Ironman experience help you to handle it better, if you had to?

Answer: Pollution is a big issue in most cities in India, although while living in the USA we had lot of allergens in air largely air quality was good.

In India it's difficult at times with high AQI to even walk let alone run or bike. You have to do what you can do and make best of the situation.

Question: How do you tackle this? What are the major challenges an athlete faces under such a situation?

Answer: The air quality has gone for a toss in recent times and the only option left is to train indoors as one must take into consideration the risk of training outdoors.

With the marathon season ongoing in India, the current air quality in parts of the country is bad for athletes to train or participate in long distance running. Recently, we saw Garmin has postponed their GRC Why Do We Run Event due to the rise in AQI level which could've been exceedingly harmful for anyone exposed to such toxic air.

With athletes and runners restricted and limited to train indoors is the only option at this point, and although running on a treadmill can be boring it is the best one can do in this situation.

Swimming and biking on trainers indoors and gym, is minimally affected as most athletes do this in an indoor setup as it is.

Question: Training indoor is always an option – but is it as effective as training outdoors?

Answer: Training for an event indoors can be effective, as it's easy to replicate any session that you are able to do outside on a smart trainer while reducing the overall time.

Thanks to technology, indoor trainings can be fun and effective too. Training readiness with a third-party virtual platform where runners from across the globe can come together and train. You have to keep the flow of your practice intact; hence indoor training can be made a real experience with the help of technology.

Question: How badly can such polluted air affect an athlete or even a common man in general?

Answer: It can be a huge deterrent for sure, not just in terms of breathing but also puffed-up eyes, throat issues can put a real drag on one's training and quite honestly moving around in the city.

It's important to understand athletes have better immune systems that have been developed compared to the normal person who has even more problems. If athletes "stress" their immune systems in polluted conditions, it can have adverse long-term effects as well.

Question: Is there any solution to ensure that the training of athletes is not affected? Is it even possible to create a safe environment other than working towards reducing pollution?

Answer: We have to keep finding tangible solutions to tackle issues which cannot be controlled. Working out or training indoors is a great alternative in these situations. People living in North India face this year after year and one can only manage to arrange for a setup indoors with proper gears and machines.

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