Being a doctor is a very stressful occupation, which is why many physicians relax by playing golf or tennis, or taking a vacation. Dr. Joshua Light of Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida takes a different approach to his downtime—he trains for triathlons.

The former marathon runner participated in his first ‘sprint’ triathlon, the Key Biscayne Trilogy, in August, and plans to participate in one triathlon per month until November, when he will take part in the Miami Man competition held at the Metro Zoo. “The Miami Man competition is half of an Ironman race,” explained Dr. Light, whose goal is to someday complete in a full Ironman competition. “The Full Ironman is the pinnacle of athletic achievement for me.”

Dr. Light credits his interest in athletics, and medicine, to his parents. “My father is a retired ophthalmologist, and he inspired my career choice,” said Dr. Light. “My mother was a long-distance runner.”

Dr. Light began running during his fellowship, and quickly took to the sport. While training for marathons, he ran between five and 20 miles, four to five days a week. His training for the triathlon, however, requires even more stamina.

“I felt that training for a triathlon would be more of a challenge, and that doing three different sports would be better, healthwise, for me,” he said. “From a cardiovascular and strengthening standpoint, each sport has its own focus.”

“Swimming is an upper body sport, and running and biking are all in the legs,” he continued. “For me, the most difficult component of my training is swimming; even though I grew up in Miami Beach, I was never a big swimmer. I just did it for fun. But it’s very different from running or biking in that it’s a very technical sport; you have to learn what techniques to use to reduce your drag in the water and increase efficiency.”

A typical sprint triathlon requires that athletes complete a quarter-mile swim, a 10- to 12-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run. Dr. Light’s ultimate goal, the Ironman, requires a 2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. Dr. Light plans to complete three triathlons before attempting the half-Ironman competition in November and the Ironman in roughly a year.

“Right now, I’m training six days a week for the upcoming triathlons, splitting my time between biking, swimming and running,” he said. “I usually work out two hours a day, and three hours on weekends. I usually wake up at 4:30 a.m. and run in the morning before going to work, and then spend an hour after work swimming and biking.”

Dr. Light says that he is extremely fortunate in that his family supports his athletic goals. “You really need the support of your family because of the time commitment,” he said. “My wife and my three boys all inspire me and cheer me on, and I think seeing me train has also inspired my kids’ interest in exercise.”

In addition to getting him in great physical shape, Dr. Light says that there are other benefits of training for the triathlon as well. “Exercising is a great way to get rid of stress,” he said. “I see so many patients in a day, and I mentally concentrate on every single one. That takes a lot of energy. I think training for an endurance sport helps to keep me sharp throughout the day.”

“Training also gives me something to look forward to,” he added. “People spend their time thinking about their next vacation from work, but I consider my training like a vacation that I do in combination with my work.”

Though Dr. Light has many goals, winning is not one of them. “I really don’t have a time in mind for each triathlon,” he said. “The fact is, I’m never going to win a triathlon, but I do enjoy the personal challenge of beating my own times. The object of every race is to do better than the last one.”