With titles like the ‘Ironman’ and ‘Ultraman’, Milind Soman has truly changed the way we look at fitness in this country. He has not only advocated running for a healthier life but encouraged to push boundaries through his triumphs. Soman has been an athlete all his life and it’s only just that the fitness icon has partnered with Oakley, an eyewear brand that has engineered eyewear to deliver unrivaled performance benefits for running and training. We catch up with Soman on his association with the brand, the most difficult run of his life and much more.
When it comes to eyewear, what are your personal preferences and favorites?
Well, my personal preference is Oakley simply because they have the best technology for sports eyewear. I have been shortsighted since the age of six and my eyes are also particularly sensitive to light. As a runner, when I run barefoot, I really need to see the road clearly. I need to see the textures and I find Oakley does the best job at it.
What are some of the eyewear trends that you are shipping and dissing?
I’m not really particular about trends, I’m particular about performance. If I feel that the product I’m using does a good job then I don’t really at anything else. Having said that, Oakley has great style. And of course, the eyewear is made of patented materials which again is very specific to running. It makes sure that the eyewear stays fixed on my face. It doesn’t move around or doesn’t fall. That’s very important.
Speaking of running, what’s your daily fitness regime like?
I don’t really have a regime. Fitness to me is about being able to do any particular activity. If I want to compete for Ironman I need to have the fitness level to do it. If I need to run a marathon, I need to have the fitness level to run marathons. I try to maintain a certain fitness level that allows me to do all these activities. Any challenge I see or come across, I should be able to take up that challenge. So I don’t train for something specifically. I try to maintain a level of fitness to do all of this.
What’s that one fitness myth you would love to bust?
Running is bad for your knees is a myth. Infact running strengthens the knees. Running badly is bad for your knees, that is the truth one needs to know.
You are now reaching out to a wider audience as an athlete. Personally what has the transition from supermodel to an athlete been like?
I don’t know how the audience takes it. I do what I like. Some of the things I do inspire people to take up similar things like sports. I think it’s the sign of the times. The world is now more aware that if you don’t take care of your health you can be a victim to diseases. So, people are also aware that it’s important to exercise, it’s important to eat right and sleep at the right time. I have been in sports since I was 9 years old. So for me it’s nothing new. I use to swim more than I use to run today. I use to swim about 65 kms a week which actually created a great fitness base for me but now I think I run for about 50 kms a week. To a lot of people when they cross the age of 35-40, their body begins to slow down and they think nothing can be done about it. The fact is that if you take care of your health, you can keep all these things further and further into the future. You don’t need to be sick. You don’t need your body to age faster. People are looking for those things these days.
What’s been the most difficult run of your life?
It was actually my first full marathon in 2009 and it was difficult because I was arrogant and over confident and I thought I was really fit. I didn’t realize, which I do now, what the distance of 42 km actually means. Our body has a certain natural capacity which is to work under a certain intensity for 3 and a half hours. After that when your body has depleted all its natural resources, it can shut down. In fact, there is a technical term for it in marathon running called ‘hitting the wall’ and anybody who has run a marathon knows that you will ‘hit the wall’. That’s what happened to me as well. At 38 kms I just collapsed and somebody help to revive me and I finished the last 4 kms. Nothing like that throughout my sporting career had happened to me and even since then.
According to you, how are today’s male models different from when you started out?
Indian models today are much better today as compared to when I was modeling in the early 90’s. They are much more professional, more suited for international ramps and very well groomed. They have a better understanding of what modelling is all about. So, I think the industry is doing well.