In a country where ageing is surreptitiously accepted to lead to failing health, Milind Soman stands far far from the crowd. At 50 years, he completed the Ironman Triathlon – 3.86kms swimming, 180.25km cycling, and 42.2 kms running – considered one of the most difficult one day sporting event in the world. He did this in 15h19m29s and is an inspiration to even youngsters half his age.
There is a lot that can be said about the man who has been dazzling us with his looks, talent and grit for more than 2 decades. For now lets limit ourselves to these timeless lessons we can learn from him:
1. Expect Better From Yourself
Milind Soman was an athlete when he was young, he was a national level swimming champion for four years while in college (Ref1). At the age of 29, when he decided to start running again, he was disgusted at how he could not even run for a few minutes at a stretch
It is moments like these that truly test someone’s self belief – either you accept who you have become OR you do what it takes to change course. He chose the latter and in doing so quit smoking – at the time he used to chain-smoke 5 cigarettes, going through 30 a day (Ref2). He quit because he wanted to get back to running. He quit because he expected better from himself.
What is the one thing that you want to change to become a better you, a healthier you?
2. Take On New Challenges And Hold Them Sacred
In his late 40s, Milind was the face for various marathons that started being held across the country. By that time he had been running for over a decade and could easily coast for years to come. Instead he decided on a new challenge – to run the Ironman Triathlon at 50 years of age.
Not only did he challenge himself, he put into it all the resources he had and could afford. From hiring the best Ironman Triathlon coach in the country to taking out time from his packed schedule as an actor, producer, entrepreneur, athlete, celebrity- he did all he could to meet his challenge.
How much time and energy do you put into pursuing your personal health goals?
3. Aim For Consistent Practice Before Expecting Progress
We are living in the age of instant gratification – we see an actor with washboard abs, we want to look like that TOMORROW! Our end goal becomes more important than the journey.
Milind didn’t start his running with the thought of competing in Ironman. He just wanted to be able to run without gasping for breath and from there went to running a half-marathon to a marathon. All this while he was consistent in his running routine. He started running many marathons a year after which he graduated to thinking about competing for Ironman. Now he is aiming for the ultra marathon – some of the toughest ones are spread over 7 days and cover almost 5 times the distance of a marathon.
Have you been inconsistent in your diet or exercise routine but still expect jaw dropping progress?
4. Conventional Wisdom Is Overrated, Explore Yourself
Milind Soman has been running barefoot for a few years now. He read a book in 2011 that talked about how running barefoot allows the body to change its gait reducing risk of injury. He decided to try for himself and felt enough difference to adopt and promote it.In the ultra marathon where all the runners rely on sugar loaded sports drinks, he fuelled himself with ragi and jaggery. (Ref3)In an interview with Vogue, he admits to this quirky fitness trait and says, ‘I always ask but never listen’.
Milind Soman when asked about his diet
“I don’t follow any particular diet. I eat everything, except refined, white sugar. Also, my meat intake is minimum. I never eat till I am full. I avoid cheese and eggs, as they don’t suit my body. I also don’t drink tea or coffee. I drink plenty of water throughout the day. I’m a Maharashtrian, so we eat ghee, cream and butter a lot. I love ghee in my food; I have it with practically every meal. I eat a lot of fruits in the morning and a lot of vegetables throughout the day.” (Ref4)
I am sure there will be countless things that he would have tried that did not work for him and we only hear about the ones that did. The point here is that he is constantly exploring new ways, better ways that will help him reach his goal and in the process learning about himself and what is right for him.
In order to reach your goal, have you explored better ways, those beyond conventional knowledge, that would be more suited to you as an individual?
Milind Soman is an inspiration for thousands but he need not be an aberration. His pursuit to being fit and healthy exemplifies what it means to be self-respecting, daring, persistent and free.
Ref1: Wikipedia. Last accessed Feb 2016
Ref2: Facebook Post on ‘Humans Of Bombay’ page (2015). Last accessed Feb 2016.
Ref3: Business Standard (2015) Last accessed Feb 2016
Ref4: Hindustan Times (2015) Last accessed Feb 2016