Milind Soman on being Ultraman: I train for performance, not looks
As Milind Soman successfully completes Ultraman Florida, one of the most challenging triathlons around the world, he talks about his recent feat, his fitness regimen, why he prefers to run barefoot, and more.Updated: Mar 03, 2017 07:33 IST
After winning the Ironman title in 2015, Milind Soman is now Ultraman. He achieved the feat, considered as the world’s most gruelling of triathlons, in Florida on February 19.
Now back in Mumbai, the swimmer-turned-model-turned-actor-turned-athlete talked exclusively to Hindustan Times on how it feels to keep challenging his endurance levels, and why he thinks he is fitter now than he was in 1995 – when he first made India sit up and take note of him in Alisha Chinai’s Made in India.
‘I didn’t train for Ultraman’
Soman claims he didn’t prepare for Ultraman — a triathlon that requires participants to swim 10 km in open water, cycle 423 km, and run 84 km over three days. “My whole idea of being fit is not having to train for anything. That is the fitness level I aim to maintain. The challenge for me this time was to see if I could complete Ultraman without specifically training for it,” he says.
But he did prepare for Ironman, his first triathlon, which he completed two years ago. “I was a really bad cyclist then, and was swimming after 25 years. So I didn’t know if I could actually swim the 3.8 km and cycle the 180 km required for Ironman,” he says.
Though Ultraman demands greater strength, endurance level and training, completing Ironman gave Soman the confidence to do it without any preparation.
Fitness is a way of life
Life has come full circle for Milind Soman. He started as a swimmer at nine, representing Maharashtra and India at several national and international competitions for over 13 years. He then went on to become a supermodel and an actor before he started doing intercity runs. Soman now holds the titles of the two most famed international triathlons.
He says participating in athletic events is important to him because it helps him figure the level he is at, and what he is capable of achieving. He thinks is fitter now at 51 than he was 22 years ago, when his boyish charm and chiseled body first made women weak in the knees. “When I look back, even now, I am amazed because I did not build that body specifically for Made in India. It came from years of vigorous swimming. In fact, the video was shot seven years after I’d stopped swimming,” he says, adding that he trains to better his performance and not the way he looks.
Considering that enviable body, you may think Soman has an extensive exercise regimen. However, he says he gets to run only three-four times a week because he travels ever so often (about 20 days a month).
Though Soman is not particularly choosy about food, he tries to stay away from white refined sugar and non-vegetarian food. His staple is vegetable khichdi.
And he loves running barefoot whenever he can. Soman has not worn shoes for about six years now, for running or otherwise, because he doesn’t find them comfortable anymore. If at all, he prefers sandals.
Soman doesn’t believe in having a career. “I experiment with the opportunities I get, and do whatever interests me at the time,” he says. At present, his hands are a little too full with varied projects. After winning Ultraman Florida, he’d now like to run Badwater – a 135-mile annual race in California’s Death Valley.
Though he admits to not getting many acting offers, he has been active in regional cinema lately. “I find acting fun, and don’t want to do away with that. I have never been able to see it as a job. It is another world I go to every once in a while. I wouldn’t like to do it full-time, but it’s great to be there,” he says.
Soman will next be seen alongside Saif Ali Khan in Chef, a film expected to hit the screens sometime this year. Then there’s his foundation called United Sisters, under which he started Pinkathon — an annual event aimed at promoting running among women — five years ago.
Pinkathon now enjoys a presence in 12 cities. “The response has been overwhelming. Around 75,000 women participated in Pinkathon events across the country last year,” Soman said. He organised Kathmandu’s first Pinkathon only this Friday.
Motivated by the success of Pinkathon, Soman is coming up with other women-oriented initiatives such as an exclusive line of activewear, a web portal and a radio station “to continue being a positive influence” promoting health and fitness among women.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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