They say, ‘Educate a woman and you educate a family’, but meet Milind Soman and you will say that ‘Encourage a woman to be fit and the family is also encouraged to do the same’.
Waking up early might be a routine task for a lot of people but when you have to meet Milind Soman you don’t think twice. And that’s precisely what I did.
It was amazing to see so many enthusiasts waiting and then cheering to see Milind who of course needs no introduction. Milind has been a supermodel, the face of many successful campaigns, former national swimming champion and of course more lately he is known for his love of running. No wonder then that he has successfully completed Ironman in 2015, Ultraman in 2017 and now his association with Pinkathon which promotes health and fitness amongst women in India and awareness about breast cancer in particular.
In a bid to promote India’s biggest women’s run – Pinkathon, Milind had come to encourage women runners of Peerancheruvu Runners Group – that’s how the runners from our society are famous as. They have named themselves after the adjoining lake Peerancheruvu.
Pinkathon – India’s biggest women’s run is held in 9 cities across India throughout the year. For more details just log on to Pinkathon
As Milind got talking to the runners who were keen to know and understand how he runs, what he eats and his routine the conversation prompted me to highlight a few key points for the sake of my readers.
How do you train before a marathon?
I don’t really train. I ran the Mumbai marathon day before yesterday but I didn’t train for it at all and I completed the first 21k in 2 hours and 10 minutes and the second in 2 hours and 14 minutes; almost an even split but most importantly my pulse rate did not go above 140 that is the importance of conditioning. So there is no pressure on the heart and there’s no stress to the body.
There’s a big debate today whether distance running is healthy or not. And the debate is this that there is too much stress on the body even the full marathon puts too much stress on the body but actually the stress is too much when your body is not used to it. When I ran on Sunday I comfortably did it in 4:24 with an even split and a pulse rate of 140 which means I was comfortable and there was no stress. That is something for me to aspire to. I don’t really have a routine. I run. I don’t ever go to a gym which is not what I am recommending because some people need to do strength training. I never do it because I was in sports since I was 9 years old. I have been swimming competitively since I was 9 until the age of 23. I represented India at swimming. When I stopped swimming I was swimming 12 km a day which is more than what I run today.
2. How do you manage to run such long distances?
The maximum I ran in the entire year at a stretch without stopping was 15 km. My mantra is just that I am regular. You need to give yourself time and you need to be patient and if you are regular you would be able to do these distances very easily. To be fit and healthy you need to be active all the time. The biggest thing that compromises your health and fitness is sitting.
Pinkathon in Hyderabad is happening on 11th March 2018
3. What kind of a diet plan do you have?
When I ran Delhi to Mumbai in 2012 people didn’t ask me how I did it they only asked me what did you eat – ‘kaunsi chakki ka aata khaate ho’? I eat normal regular things, one of my staple things is khichdi. I am mostly vegetarian I eat non-vegetarian at times because I like the taste and not because I want protein out of it. I don’t eat eggs at all. So vegetarians and vegans ask me where do you get your protein? It is very easy to get protein from vegetarian food the only thing is that you have to eat a little more and what is wrong with that! Dal and rice together give all essential amino acids and that is my major protein source.
And the advantage is that it is a cleaner fuel. So the toxic waste that would be created from eating nonvegetarian food is much more than from eating vegetarian food. Your body also undergoes a lot of stress to digest nonveg. It also sucks out a lot of water to digest nonveg food. So people who eat a lot of fruits and are vegetarians are also dehydrated less. I am not a doctor but this is largely based on my experience.
4. When and how did you start barefoot running?
You are always looking for ways to improve yourself. There was a lot of conversation going on in the world about bare foot running vs running with shoes so one day I just removed my shoes. And after running a few kms I ran the last km in my socks and felt very energized after that, there are many theories behind it that there is earthing, acupressure I don’t know what is the truth but that is what I felt. So I started exploring it more and more. And I felt my entire style of running, my balance, my posture everything was changing very gradually and even today now its 7 years that I am running without shoes I still feel its changing.
I love to run barefoot and if the ground is too rough then I wear chappals/ sandals and tie laces to keep them in place.
5. What is the difference between Health and Fitness? And what keeps you motivated?
Is your immune system strong? Is your digestion good? Do you sleep well? Are your hormones balanced? Is your blood sugar normal?
These are all parameters of health. The body functioning correctly means you are healthy.
Fitness can be evaluated at different levels. Are you fit to do your job? Are you fit to run a marathon? Are you fit for IronMan? Are you fit for Ultraman? When you exercise you must have a goal if you are running for exercise you must have a goal; you are running because you want to train for a half marathon or a full marathon or you are just running for fun because you love to run. That is a different reason to run. I run because I love to run. I have no goal for running. I ran the Mumbai marathon I didn’t train but I did the full marathon and at the end of it, I asked myself how did it feel – I felt good, amazing. I was happy.
Meeting Milind and listening to him was a wonderful experience. When you meet someone who is so motivated and strongly believes in a cause you are bound to feel energized and positive. I learned swimming last year and plan to continue it this year as well; plus I have also begun with walks and plan to take it to the next level.
Sometimes you meet people and you forget but sometimes you meet people like Milind and you are inspired.