How I know Gautam Pothineni (or Pondiman as he is fondly called) deserves a separate blogpost altogether. Check it out here 🙂
But if you are a lazy bum to do that, Gautam is working as an Assistant Manager at Grant Thorton, one of the Big 6 Accounting Firms. But he is more popular in the world of endurance sports. His exploits in the running scenario of Hyderabad(and outside) is well known. He recently finished 4th in the Hyderabad Runners Club Run of 21.2 km.
Well then, this blog cast will definitely give you a shot of adrenaline. Let’s get started!
Starting with something which introduced me to you. Cycling. Can you walk us through your fitness journey. How you started? How you could maintain the consistency when many others falter with the same 🙂
Well this is a long story! I used to be a huge sports maniac during school days. My schedule was something like cricket practice in the morning, then school, gym and then basketball practice in the evening.
But then I shifted to delhi for college, new found freedom and I kind of lost my way 🙂 Late night parties, too much alcohol, cigarettes and some other stuff, shitty food habits and within a year I went from a decently fit 80ish kilo guy to a humongous 105ish kilo fatso.
One positive thing during this entire phase was it never affected my studies. I was done with my CA-IPCC and moved to Hyderabad for my 3 year internship. Getting back to stay with family, the late night parties and alcohol reduced relatively but I was still a heavy smoker and ate a lot (read: Biryani!). Then one fine day after my CA Final exams, I was sitting idle at home waiting for my results to come for a couple of months. I was around 115 at this time with a bulging stomach and unable to even climb a floor of stairs.
Something clicked then. It was different from before. I had tried to join a gym previously, get back to the routine but it just never happened. But this time was different. I went for a 3 day trial class at F45 and I got my ass whooped after every 45 minute session. I loved that feeling though. It reminded me of my cricket and basketball days. The amount of sweat and effort I used to put into training. I just continued with f45, reduced smoking but my diet was still off though. Then came the 4 week challenge at f45. By then I got the hang of the classes, I was shedding kilos and I really wanted to be fit by the end of the challenge. My parents were very supportive during this entire period. That 4 weeks i just hit it out of the park. I was really pushing myself at the gym. I completely stopped smoking, I had my diet under control (thanks to my amma 🙂 and I won the challenge by losing 9.4 kgs in 4 weeks with a body fat loss of around 5%.
Week 1 of f45 Challenge:
Week 4 of f45 Challenge:
During this phase, Albo the head trainer at F45 introduced me to cycling. It started with renting bikes from HBC and going on sunday rides. My first ride must have been 15-20 kms and it felt like the biggest achievement of my life then. Then the bike affair (TBA) opened under f45 and I got talking to Gokul. You have no idea how much I used to bug him. I started renting bikes from TBA, got talking to Gokul, used to ride frequently but it was still at the 50-60 km level.
*I used to do the same. Bugging Gokul a lot with questions.*
One fine day, Vandana who used to take our running interval sessions at f45 called the trailblazers said let’s do a brevet. I didn’t even know what a brevet meant then. So I pinged Gokul. He sat me down and explained me what a brevet is and then I asked him do you think I can do the 200K brevet and he said yes you can! So I decided to enroll for the night brevet without having any experience of riding in the night or riding more than 60 kms, borrowed a friends hybrid, bought some bare essentials and went for it. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I gave up completely after 70 kms. But then the night set in, the traffic reduced and I managed to reach the u-turn point. I somehow managed to complete it in 11 hours and 10 minutes to get it done. The rest was history. One thing led to another and I ended up completing the SR series that year. I think it was 2015-16. That entire series wouldn’t have been possible if it was not for the support received from Gokul and the riding company from George and Hemanth throughout the brevets. I know, way too long this was!
Coming to the consistency, I believe it all depends on our perspective. This fitness thing, be it running, cycling, gym whatever isn’t something special I do. It is exactly similar to something as simply as waking up and brushing teeth twice a day. You don’t say you are consistent at brushing every day right 🙂 Fitness is the same way. It is a one hour investment every day on your body and soul.
*That’s it Folks! Anything we set our mind to, has to be backed by our daily efforts*
You’ve come close to a sub 3h30 min marathon. Congratulations on that!
Whenever you are running a marathon, what are your emotional states throughout the race?
Thanks a ton! 3 hours 38 minutes and 37 seconds to be precise 🙂 And trust me, that is no where close to my best, wait till the end of this year and hopefully all the work pays off. Running a marathon is a roller coaster man. To sum it up in a phrase its life in a day. You obviously start off really happy and excited about the day ahead, but then you hit a low point somewhere down the line.
I try not to pay it much heed. I distract myself by wishing strangers, thanking the aid station people, giving high fives. I keep telling myself no one is forcing me to do this, I am doing this for the experience of it and that’s what keeps me going.
During Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2017
You’ve recently been awarded the Best Improved Runner for 2017-2018 at the Hyderabad Runners Club Awards. How has the journey been with HR so far?
I never believed much in awards before. But it was an amazing feeling to get recognised. It gives you the confidence that you are going in the right direction.
Coming to Hyderabad runners, they are a great bunch of people who love running selflessly man. There have been so many times when people have just come ahead and gave advices and supported me. You should start running with us regularly!
WITH HYDERABAD RUNNERS
*Can’t wait to do that eeeeeeeeee. visibly excited me*
You’ve set some high goals this year. How are you getting physically ready and more importantly, mentally ready for Comrades in June?
For starters I have hired myself a coach. His name is Nate Houle from Forca Running. Super nice guy 🙂 From a physical perspective, there are no magic workouts. The goal is just to be consistent with training, eating and sleeping for the next two months and I will be ready. From the mental side, like i said in the previous question I choose to do this, no one is forcing me to do it. So the goal is to be happy, smile through out and take it one step at a time.
*This was something Gautam repeatedly kept saying during my training regime. And later on while reading the book ‘Born to Run’, it echoed the same. Running should be for the joy of i 🙂 *
Can you mention 3-5 things which give you 80% results for 20% of your efforts? Some things which many people overlook?
I am a huge believer in the 80-20 formula. Instead of mentioning 3-5 things, all i want to say is do the basics right. It is the simple things we often ignore and it’s the simple thing that often matter.
3 simple things – Train consistently, Eat healthy and sleep well. There are no shortcuts, magic workouts or fad diets. These shortcuts might give us immediate results but will have an adverse impact on our longevity.
What do you think one should keep in mind while just entering the world of endurance sports?
One should keep in mind that endurance sports is an extremely intense activity that takes a toll on your mind and body alike. It is important to be patient and adopt a slow and steady approach. Also, the most important thing one should keep in mind is to enjoy the activity!
Can you also share with us some of your other hobbies and interests?
I love talking to people if that can be counted as a hobby :p On a serious note, I listen to a lot of podcasts and try to read a lot of books and of course binge watch tv series. Not to state the obvious but i love to trek and explore new places on foot. I am getting a lot into reading about nutrition, environment conservation and trying to live a minimalist lifestyle and leaving as less a carbon footprint as possible.
Some clicks from Rupin Pass Trek
You’ve cleared your CA finals, one of the toughest exam in India. How did you approach it. And any advice for the takers?
I don’t think it is as tough as people make it out to be man. I would recommend people not to follow my approach. I am one of those people who just can’t study for months and months together. I prepped for 6 months before my CA finals and applied the 80-20 formula while studying. I don’t think it is practically possible to cover the entire syllabus, it is humongous! So i just concentrated on 60% of the syllabus which i felt like would cover 90% of the marks and I got lucky and it worked 🙂
You’re working as an Assistant Manager in Grant Thornton and you are just 24. How was your approach in your corporate life?How do you deal with office politics, peer pressure, etc?
I have never thought much about my corporate life. I just go there, complete my work and come back home. I am lucky to have an amazing Manager and Partner who support my endurance activities and help me maintain a really good work life balance. One thing I have always tried to separate my work from life. I believe that is essential to maintain longevity and quality at work as well as relationships at home.
You’ve been doing daily meditation practise for a month now. Do you see any noticeable difference? Any words of advice on this.
Yes, I have been using headspace for a month now and I have noticed a huge difference already. I am more calm now and I am able to control my emotions in a better way. The 10 minutes every morning has become a part of my life now.
*I’ve tried meditating on a consistent basis for a lot many times but I have failed so far. Kudos to you Gautam for such commitment*
Do you mind giving us a sneak peek through your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list with respect to life. I have a list of goals and races with respect to running i would love to do though. Post Comrades, I really want to concentrate on the marathon distance and attempt a sub 3 marathon this December/January. Post that I have always been attracted to mountain ultra trail races. At the beginning I was really fascinated with these international races but I want to explore the Indian subcontinent first. We have such amazing trails and races here. There is one race though, that is a lifetime goal for me. I want to be at the start line of ‘Western States Endurance Run 100 miler’. I don’t know when, I don’t know how but I will give my best to get to the start line and then try and run it competitively some day.
I also really want to spend some time on building a platform and creating awareness on the benefits of being on a plant based diet, living a minimalist life, reducing my carbon footprint on the earth!
*Talking to Pondi, Billy Yangs podcast with Ann Trason podcast and reading Born to Run; all this really had an impact in my thoughts about my ecological footprint too. Much food for thought needed here*
Gautam, can you name one thing you are super proud of?
I am proud of the fact that my parents are proud of me right now 🙂
Another thing I could relate with you is self development. You’ve consumed your share of podcasts and books. Can you share with us 5 resources (audio/video/books) which had the highest impact on you and shaped your way of thinking.
What are your favorite 5 tools/apps?
Well, this is easy!
Strava, for obvious reasons :p
Instagram – This can be a powerful learning tool and influencer if you use it correctly
Netflix – I don’t know what will I do without it
Books, books and books!
Whom do you admire the most? In what ways does that person inspire you?
My parents man 🙂 I have seen the struggles they have gone through. I have seen the effort they have put in to raise me. They inspire me each day, every day.
And also my girlfriend Natasha. Kids our age today have this tendency of feeling that their life sucks and they have all the problems in the world. But she has gone through so many things at such an early age man. She never lost her way though. She knew what she wanted and she made sure she achieved it. This is just the beginning of her career and I am extremely confident that she will be super successful at what she wants to do. In fact I keep telling her 5-6 years down the line, she will be so successful that I will leave my job and be a house husband and just chill in life 😛
Gautam. You’ve been in a relationship for almost 6 years. What do you think are the 5 most important things which make or break a relationship?
Just two things man! First you have to genuinely care for the other person. If you care for her/him that is more than enough to have a healthy relationship. This second one is a very basic thing but i am still trying to get better at it – Listen well!
Do you have any favorite failures of yours. One which seemed to be frustrating when it happened but in retrospect helped you in one way or another.
No specific failure as such! I love failures though. It helps you learn a lot about yourself and helps you strive to not make the same mistake again.
Last question to end this Blogcast 🙂
What do people never ask you that you wish they did. And can you answer for the same too?
Hahhaha! I always wish someone asks me out for a dance man. Somehow everyone including my girlfriend thinks that I am bad dancer!
Hehe!! That was a funny unexpected response. Hope the ladies are listening.
That was an amazing and gripping Blogcast for me Gautam. Thank you for your time and patience 😛
Good luck on all your future runs and endeavors. You definitely must have ignited a fitness spark in at least one reader. Until next time!!
And Hey Guys, if you loved this format- checkout other Blogcasts on this Blog and do follow. ( No one gives a fuck about this line these days. Hope you have 1 left :p)