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Interview with Boston Qualifier Ashish Puntambekar

Fresh of his 3:17 time at IDBI Delhi Marathon which sets him up for Boston 2021, RadStrong Coaching interviews Ashish Puntambekar.

1. Team Rad: Tell us about your Boston qualification and how you are feeling right now?

Ashish: Frankly speaking, thoughts of me achieving BQ are still sinking in my mind. For any runner achieving BQ is distant dream and mostly aspirational. Fortunately i was able to achieve it and I started feeling what i have achieved with so many runners and our Radstrong buddies congratulating/calling me. It is really a dream come true for me and what me, my coach (Kaustubh), my family and friends saw and believed in me.


2. Team Rad: From 3:43 to 3:17 is a remarkable journey, even more considering you work full time, how do you make it work?

Ashish: All i will say is, there is no short-cut to success (in this situation my BQ). It takes the whole ecosystem to work tirelessly over months (infact i will say over years) and every single day you have to go through the grind on what you want to achieve and pursue as your dream.. My time reduction from 3.43 to 3.17 was almost impossible to achieve even if you would have asked me this last year.. Fortunately i was surrounded by positive people who not only believed in me BUT also reemphasised what I am attempting for.. This positive affirmations surely help you built up every single day. You will need to realise you will need to believe in yourself .. as If you don’t then how can someone else. Having a full time stressful job always makes it very difficult BUT as runners and athletes we all know “There is no perfect day”. You will need to achieve everything against all odd coming your way and thats what makes it all the difference.


3. Team Rad: Having your son next to you doing his first FM (3:45), thats a special feeling tell us more?

Ashish: Very difficult to exactly articulate what I am feeling.. It was a very very proud moment for me to see my son, Ishan crossing the finish line. I was there waiting for him and while I believed he will achieve his first FM with sub 4 (because of his training) seeing him actually crossing the finish line (and that too well within plan) made me go very emotional .. While i somehow managed to stop my tears rolling by my cheeks it was a double achievement and with rest of the Radbuddies immediately started crossing the finishline one after another i realised “Its a perfect day and you cant ask for more”.

I always wanted to be a role-model which Ishan can follow (as we all know if they don’t have any role-model at home they will look outside and mostly they follow someone with all their traits good and bad). Very fortunate that Ishan saw that role-model in me and inspite of his age where all his friends party hard on Saturday night till midnight he sleeps early because of the long practise Sunday runs starting 4.30/5 AM.” Its all about dreams and sacrifices."


4. Team Rad: Coming back to your race, you had a set target tell us how you went about it?

Ashish: Kaustubh and I really worked hard for setting up my Target.. I had two great shoot out HM races (TMM 1.34 and Maharashtra Police 1.32) which helped me build my confidence. We both worked out a plan for what should be my pace for first half and second half .. as per the plan Kaustubh gave me first half (21 kms) in 1.37 and second half in 1.40.. I absolutely absolutely followed the plan and went very very patiently in the first half. Preserved the energy for second half. I knew i will be able to sail thru till about 32 KMs and post that it will be all mind game.. Post 32 kms i then told myself to only think about next 2 kms and the pace which i need to maintain. At 34 KMs i did same for next 2 Kms and it went till about 40 Kms.. At 40 Kms i realised even if i walk for last 2 kms i will be able to achieve my BQ (for my age it is 3.25 Hrs) and achiving the BQ thought itself took me to finish line without dropping my pace. Splitting the last 10 kms (32 to 42) in 5 chucks and only focusing on one chunk at a time helped me.

Post race i showed the BeRAD App screenshot to Kaustubh with What plan he gave VS what i achieved and It was a mirror replica .. Kasutubh said “Epic”.


5. Team Rad: At any point during the race or prior did you get nervous, how did you tackle the nerves?

Ashish: I was confident but nervous as anything could have gone wrong.. At the backdrop of my Chicago marathon where people choose Chicago for BQ and i missed it by more than 3 minutes. The main mistake which i did in Chicago was going too fast too soon with flow/emotions. I told myself every single second during this race to be patient and not push very very hard in the first half. Fortunately I was very happy with my training runs be it shoot out races, long runs, tempo runs, Hill reps or speed runs. That gave me confidence. Personally i realised you know how well you are placed in achieving your goal. If you are satisfied/happy with what you achieved in training then following the exact plan in race (with pace and nutrition) with head without getting carried away with rest of the people (read it as fast runners) will take you to finish line per your plan. It helped me and i will say helped Ishan inspite of his zero experience in Full Marathons before.


6. Team Rad: Kaustubh’s training is known to be conservative with less miles, lot of HR based runs, at any point did you feel that you needed to run more? What was your weekly plan like?

Ashish: Kaustubhs plans are very very scientific backed by all the analytics of the training runs. This means the more you closely follow your training runs the better are your chances to achieve your goals/dreams. For long runs there is different strategy and mostly based on HR based and based on how much duration you will be on your feet in the actual race. Prior to any marathon you will get atleast 3 long runs from 30-34 Kms , 1 or 2 shoot out races, lot of 50 mins to 1 hr HR based runs and 70-90 Mins speed runs at extremely high pace. I never felt a need to increase the mileage as this traning itself was keeping me extremely busy and the whole idea is not to over-train and run injury free.

7. Team Rad: What changes did you make in diet, strength training etx to compliment your run training?

Ashish I have not changed my diet significantly BUT surely increased my protein intake .. Added beat root, sweet potato as my routine food.. Since i am mostly vegetarian i have made sure to have one non-veg meal atleast a week that helped. Strength training is extreme necessity as well as stretching and foam rolling.


8. Team Rad: Now that you have the BQ and should have a slot for 2021 Boston marathon, whats next for you in terms of races/events? Ashish: I recently come across a term “one high to another” .. I will say one dream to another and you define your own dreams.. With so many Radbudding doing Ironman including our coach who is been such a great inspiration i now want to give my shot with Tri. Will need to start learning Swimming and it will be fun to learn swimming with all the kids who are going to join the swimming classes during their summer vacation J

I did 2 World Major Marathons (Berlin and Chicago) and surely want to do rest one by one.. All i will say is there is no age restriction for the dreams and dreams will keep you going.


Great going Ashish! We are proud of entire Puntambekar family Mukta , Kaveri, Ishan & Ashish for running 101 kms among them on 23rd February. We all are inspired by your journey and cant wait to see what rest of 2020 brings.

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