The triathlon journey
November 10th, 2010
04:47 PM ET

The triathlon journey

I was on a plane about a year ago getting ready to take off, when I got a call from the director of our unit at CNN. She is a triathlete, and in very good shape. “Hey, Sanjay! I have a great idea. You should do the New York Triathlon with me, and we can pick six viewers around the country to do it with us,” she said. At this point, the flight attendant came around and politely asked me to turn off my phone. “Roni, uh. Yeah sure. Sounds great,” was my reply. And, that is how I found myself signed up for my first-ever triathlon.

Truth is, I never dreamed that I could do this. With a busy schedule at the hospital, three children and constant travel around the world, I immediately worried that I wouldn’t be able to train properly or adhere to the diet necessary to be a triathlete.

When July came around, and we were just days from the race, I reflected on the past several months. I realized my whole approach to fitness had changed. As busy as life is, I somehow found time to break a sweat every single day.

Because it is a three-sport competition, I could always train wherever I was in the world. Whether I was skipping rope and doing squat lunges in Haiti or running through New Orleans, while covering the oil spill, I fit it in. I love to cycle outside, but a stationary bike fit the bill. As far as the swim goes, I took a couple of lessons – something I hadn’t done since I was a kid – and suddenly I was able to overcome my biggest fear about the event, the mile swim in the Hudson River.

I became diligent about what I ate, and felt more energetic than I had in a long time. I also found a group of friends that enjoyed the same things I do, and welcomed me into a culture of the triathlete.

I love goals, and the triathlon was one of them. I really enjoyed the race and left nothing out there on that hot day in July. I gave it every ounce of my physical and mental toughness. I realized, however, at that point, the race was just a formality. It was the journey that transformed me, moreso than the destination. I am going to do it again this year, and would love for you to join me. It changed my life, and could change yours as well.

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. eddie

    olympic distance triathlon is impressive! triathlons one of the best sports, yu get to cross train which for me keeps the excitement up, push yourself on a yearly basis and travel distances most people wont do in a single month, my 2 or 3.trust me anyone can finish a sprint or olympic distance and its a great accomplishment. when you get up to half ironman and ironman its such a different level and really shows you how much you can do. i myself have done a half ironman, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile half marathon run, and its my favorite distance. currently im in a 4 year long training program to compete in an ironman 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 marathon run and from first hand experience it such fun to do so. what ever your goal whether you want to finish one or compete in the ironman i say do it!

    November 10, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • susanb

      Sanjay, I heard you speak at a conference and you were phenomenal. I heard you speak about being a neurosurgeon and working with the brain especially the brain surgery you performed in Iraq with NO surgical tools to speak of. I respect your will to do a marathon – all I 'ask' is that your next 'marathon' be a viable solution for ADHD. You, who have such a command of the brain and the limelight of the world could truly run the best marathon of your life and help SO many children live a phenomenally different life without all the side effects of these ADHD drugs. Namaste Susan B

      November 13, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse |
    • Sal

      I agree on the fitness and challenge aspect of the triathlons. Here is my story – I could use some help with getting CNN to notice me as I want to train with Dr. Gupta...

      Sal’s story and submission for consideration:


      Thanks… Sal

      November 19, 2010 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Atomic Penguin

    Sanjay! Get yourself some aerobars !!

    November 10, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Perry

      BSNYC has something to say about that Crabon Fibre Madone he's palping.

      November 10, 2010 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
  3. mccliam

    Did not see his name in the results??

    November 10, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kenia


    November 10, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. michael

    More self-promotion but at least he's not exploiting third world kids by using them as props in his "news" stories where he's saving the day.

    November 10, 2010 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. DrPete

    Sanjay, spend a little cash on getting fitted on your bike. Your position on the bike looks very un-aerodynamic and probably painful on a longer ride... And congrats on the first tri! Welcome to the addiction.

    November 10, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. andrew

    i saw you at the race last year, it was my first one as well, now i am hooked and am signed up for four next year....i agree with drpete, you most definitely need a tri bike and get a bike fit, the best in the country is in bristol ri. at tri-fit bike lab, the guy who does them, todd kenyon, is married to lisbeth kenyon, she won KONA in her age group three years in a row...course speed record.....see you in the hudson!

    November 10, 2010 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bryan

    That is a beautiful bike!

    November 10, 2010 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Republican

    Can't believe you still show your face after Michael Moore spanked you on TV!

    November 10, 2010 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bruce

    You need to spend a few days with Dave Scott (six-time Ironman champion)


    November 10, 2010 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Collegiate Tri Guy

    Welcome to a whole new lifestyle! NYC tri was my first ever race at 18 years old just before I went to college and now I am hooked! Studying engineering, trying to get into grad school, doing research and trying to cut down my splits may seem like a daunting effort but you will always find that exercise, especially in three disciplines to not burn out, relieves your body, mind and soul. Tri's are the healthiest addiction to have and you can stick with it all your life (proof being the 70+ year old competitors in the NYC Tri).

    On a side note riding that full carbon frame is doing nothing to help you if you dont get a bike fit. If you want to talk about prevention of muscle jury and increasing your efficiency and comfort, go to any quality bike shop and ask for a fit. They take an hour and drop your bike split drastically. When you feel comfortable enough, throw some aero bars on there as well.

    Glad to see the sport is spreading.

    November 11, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Susan from San Antonio

    Dr. Gupta, I hope you're watching The World Tri unfold! Maybe it will give you and your followers a really big push to greatness!! (http://www.theworldtri.com) This one is 12,000 miles long 🙂

    November 11, 2010 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mark

    Dr. Gupta, I have always found you and your reporting impressive and helpful to people. I did not know about this latest endeavor into Triathlon. Possibly stating the obvious...you are the man!

    November 11, 2010 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. James from Phoenix

    I was very impressed when I read about the first triathlon you and the 2010 six-pack did earlier this year. I have been working very hard to try and get fit and just in better general health this year so it was encouraging to me. I plan on trying to be part of the 2011 six-pack team, was just wondering when I had to submit the video by?

    November 11, 2010 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Joe

    Sanjay looks a little wobbly on the bike there, like a 3-year-old ready to crash! Haha, good job man. Before I read this I couldn't even imagine a triathlon, but I honestly think it is spurring me to get some exercise.

    November 11, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. albus

    Sanjay needs a stunt double with better arm definition to do his promo photos.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Greg

    If you want to start on your own triathlon journey, you can find workouts and programs for beginners on Holosfitness.com. Holosfitness.com is a free online fitness tool and social network focused on fitness. The site has hundreds of triathletes who share their advice, fitness tips, and workout information. Holosfitness.com offers step-by-step instruction on dozens of exercises that can help prepare you for a triathlon.

    November 11, 2010 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sony Roy


    November 11, 2010 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sony Roy


    November 11, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ElizardBETH Crowinn Senior Big DOG Medical Gossip Spreader

    **************************************breaking news************************
    ******************************************************************TRIATHLETE DROWNS!!! TRIATHLON KILLS PEOPLE!!!!!............

    *****************************************************STAY TUNED********************************

    November 12, 2010 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ricardo Lalinde

    Congrat's Sanjay. I wish I could sign up to be on the six pack but I have done 30 races in the past five years...since I fell in love with the lifestyle. I just finished my fourth half Ironman (70.3). I am starting my training for my second full Ironman next year, it will be in Nice, France. I hope to do better and train harder. I hope you and your team have the same luck.

    November 12, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. dg

    Olympic distance? Really? That distance is for little kids and fat housewifes. Its full Ironman or nothing.

    November 12, 2010 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. scott

    Who fitted you on your bike since your seat looks too high and/or the handlebars are too low, not a comfortable position for long rides or any tri over a sprint distance. You should get refitted and equip the bike with aerobars. Good Luck

    November 13, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Black Persian


    November 13, 2010 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. abqyan

    Dr. Gupta,

    You are doing a great job delivering no-nonsense health information to the general public and doing tris too! Keep up the good work.

    November 13, 2010 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. ptv

    Hi Dr. Gupta,
    Would love to be one of the six pack for 2011. Sent a video in and it is posted along with all the rest. Have been watching for updates but haven't seen any further info. So anxious to hear. Can someone advise? Thanks for the opportunity to be considered and Happy New Year!.

    January 2, 2011 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.