From MW Issue November 2013
Milind Soman on running barefoot, a 1500-km marathon and focussing on the internal.
I don’t exercise regularly, but I do pull-ups and push-ups whenever I feel like. I run twice a week. When I started working on TV, the stress really got to me, and I started smoking. I decided that I had to do something about it and started running back home from the sets. I am always conscious of my desire to be fit, and that drives me.
I used to be a national-level swimmer and didn’t care much for running. When Mumbai hosted its first marathon, in 2003, I decided I would run the half marathon (21 kilometres) to challenge myself. I could barely run 2 km when I started training for it and had to build my stamina slowly. Finishing the half-marathon felt like my biggest achievement, bigger even than the medals I won and national records I set in the pool.
I was already 38 when I ran my first half marathon, but I was determined to run longer distances. I began to run full marathons and then attempted more difficult runs, such as the 1500-km ‘green’ run from Delhi to Mumbai that NDTV asked me to do to raise awareness about environmental issues.
I avoid sitting for long stretches. I try to either stand or walk around. The chair, more specifically the ergonomic chair, is a disease-creating contraption. The only healthy way of sitting is on the ground, as that strengthens your core. Any support will make your back and core weak. Shoes and chairs are the worst inventions. You have to have a connection with the ground, which shoes break. After wearing shoes for 40 years, I started running completely barefoot five months ago and I realised that even 3 mm of rubber is obstructive.
Turning the eye in
Your body’s metabolism is constantly changing. It changes with age, and you can change it yourself. An active lifestyle will improve your metabolism and the efficiency of your body. I focus on the internal working of my body rather than my external appearance. The body has its own consciousness and will assume the best way to do things based on what it is put through. So, if the body feels that it has to step up, it will assume the best possible form or shape to do so.
I don’t have any strict restrictions on my diet. I eat a lot of cream. I eat ghee at every meal and I love oily biryani. Calories don’t work the way we think they do. If I have an intake of 5000 calories on a particular day and I don’t burn them, they will not sit in my body. That is where metabolism comes in. Your body’s efficiency depends on how hard you make it work.
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the last things you need to worry about. You need to keep track of your intake of fibre and water. Fibre is the most important component because we process our food so much that nutritious fibre barely remains in it. Water is important because in urban areas, dehydration is a big killer.
From MW Issue September 2014
The model/actor/entrepreneur on how to start running, what to wear while running and much more…
It’s never a bad time to start running
In 2003, when the Mumbai Marathon started, I decided I would run the half marathon, and when I finished it, I felt like it had been the biggest achievement in my life. I was 38 then, an age at which you’re told to start looking at less challenging goals. Along with feeling really good, I was shocked at my own capability. And, that feeling, that high, is extremely addictive.
Start slow and steady
If you’ve started running in your forties or late thirties, like I did, you have to take it really slow. Your body has changed completely in the way it responds to exertion and environment. Your muscles have deteriorated, your stamina has reduced, your cardiovascular abilities are probably at the minimum, just enough to catch a running bus or walk a kilometre. So, you have to be really patient with your body till it gets to a healthy level. You can push it after that. Your muscles have to be conditioned in a way to maintain proper technique, which will help you improve your stamina while running. It may take even a year or two. I ran the half marathon for five years before I even attempted the full marathon. But, keeping this progression alive is the key. The 42-km full marathon is not ‘it’ anymore. The ultra marathons (75 km, 100 km, 200 km) are the new exciting challenges.
The natural way to run is barefoot
Most people around the world run barefoot because they cannot afford shoes. Most children run barefoot. Barefoot running is catching on in India because people have gotten curious and want to know how it will change the way they run. I’m one of the first runners in India who can afford shoes but are taking them off. Recreational running is not about competing. It isn’t about going fast. It is about feeling healthy and getting fit. Our perception of weight and balance is affected by the responses our feet have with the ground. Anything that obstructs that is having a detrimental effect.
Running will tone up your soul
There is a difference between looking good and feeling good. Some people want big biceps because they think that’s attractive. You have to choose between working on how other people perceive you and how you want to feel about yourself. Running works on the latter.
You don’t need to crash diet to run a marathon
I eat everything. I eat a lot of fruits in the morning and then I have oat porridge. But, this is all convenience-based. I wouldn’t mind eating rice. I eat a lot of cream. I eat ghee at every meal and I love oily biryani. See, calories don’t work the way we think they do. If I have an intake of 5000 calories and I don’t work it out, it will not sit there in my body. That is where metabolism comes in. Our bodies know what they need and what to excrete. Your shape depends on how efficiently your body is working. Your body’s efficiency depends on how hard you make it work. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the last things you need to worry about. You need to keep track of your intake of fibre and water. In the guise of eating protein-rich food and supplements, we are consuming so many chemicals that we are harming ourselves. Fibre is the most important thing because we process our food so much these days that nutritious fibre barely remains in it. Water is important because in urban areas, dehydration is a big killer. I also try to avoid meat as it is not good for us. Vegetable protein is much better because it creates less waste and has almost no lasting negative effects. That is why you have Popeye.
India Running with Milind Soman by Famebox Network is India’s first digital channel on running and fitness.