Many people ask me this question. What made you take up endurance sports? It is a long story, almost more than 10 years and even more. I was never a sporty guy in my school days. Actually, I was a very chubby and plum school student. During my 10th and 12th standard years, I had a put on lot of extra weight due to all my time studies and no physical activity. At that time it was about getting maximum marks in exams and scoring 90 to 95 % marks in your subjects to get into medical college. My friends used to call me Chota Hati. I was nowhere considered good for sports and I also remember that I was rejected to be a NCC candidate due to my physical fitness at that time. But I was never sedentary also. Going to school and college by cycle was a normal thing and I used to play a lot of cricket but yes cricket does not make you very fit and healthy. It is more of a technical sport. I remember getting extremely charged by watching the movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar in school days. At that, I had no idea that I am going to do races like Race Across America and Trans Siberian Extreme in my life.
After my 12th Standard exams, for the first time in my life, I went to join a gym thinking that this will help me out. After one month of training and going through a lot of soreness from weight training, I kind of started liking this new fitness regime. Then I got into MBBS, and I started reading a lot on physiology and biochemistry, so I started to implement all the knowledge onto myself. I changed my diet and food habits and became obsessive about following them. At that time, gym, studies, and watching Arnold movies were my life. Due to changes in my food habits and gym training and cycling, I lost quite a lot of weight and gained a lot of muscle. I started to like the world of bodybuilding and started to train systematically. Sanju Sir of Barbarian Gym was my coach. I remember I used to have a huge collage of Arnold pictures in my room. On provocation from my friends, I started to compete in bodybuilding competitions in Nagpur and Vidarbha regions. I was extremely shy and introverted so getting into a sport like bodybuilding was extremely unnatural for me. I started to get the first three positions and became Vidhabha Shree in 2001 in the above 75 kg weight group. One very distinct habit in the gym I had was to train alone. I never used to like training partners. For some reason being the only child to my parents, I used to like to be alone and train.
After that came a very lean period of training. I got busy with my final year of MBBS and my career. There was no career in bodybuilding in India at that time. I had to shift from Nagpur to Mumbai. Gyms were very expensive in Mumbai so I used to do some bodyweight training at home and used to go for some running in a ground nearby in Vashi, Mumbai. Then I had to shift to Hyderabad, Delhi, and Mumbai again. So from 2002 to 2006 was the time when there was no training. It was about trying to fit into the world but I was missing lifting some weights.
In 2007, I was in Hyderabad and was going through some serious personal problems. Life was very lonely and depressing. I wanted to get out of it. That is when I met Malik Sir. He used to teach Taekwondo – Korean Martial arts. I had done bodybuilding and I used to think that is the best sport. But all my thinking was shattered when I entered the world of Bodybuilding. I started to train in Taekwondo. It was a hell of a difficult job. I had no flexibility and I had huge muscle mass from bodybuilding. So I had to become a lean and mean machine. Again I started my transformation from a bodybuilder to a martial arts player. Life was lonely and I filled it up by training myself in Taekwondo. I used to get up at 4.30 AM and go to KBR park for training. I used to train again in the evening. Malik Sir became my guru and my best friend in Hyderabad. I learned a lot from him. To train better I rented a home very near to KBR park so that I don’t waste time in commuting in Hyderabad. Taekwondo – Office – Taekwondo – Sleep that used to me my daily routine. I went on to earn a Black Belt in Taekwondo. Life was fun again and I think those were the best days of my life in Hyderabad.
For Taekwondo, we used to do lot of running training. So one fine day I thought of running a 10 km run in Hyderabad. I ran 10 km in 39 mins. It was a great feeling of achievement for me. Then I ran a half marathon. At that time running half marathons and Taekwondo was a perfect balance. I went to US for further studies at Johns Hopkins University. I ran couple of half marathons in US during my study time. After coming back to India in 2010, I got married and in 2011 I started running full marathons at Hyderabad. 1st edition on ADHM was my first full marathon. Then came to know about Ironman, so I started to learn to swim and purchased my first road bike. Then got more into Ironman and marathon running.
At that time I had never dreamed of doing races like Race Across America and Trans Siberian Extreme. As you climb one peak you see the next peak and I just went on climbing peak after peak. Don’t stop, just keep going, that’s the golden rule of endurance sports. After getting into martial arts and endurance sports, bodybuilding seemed of no interest to me. Endurance sports is a mental battle and the very purpose is to beat your own self. You realize you are your best competition.
Miles N Milers
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Summary of my achievements in sports -- Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme Finisher 9100 km in 25 days in 2018- Race Across America Finisher 5000 km in 11 days 21 hrs in 2017- Ironman Busselton in Australia in 2016- 12 times Ironman 70.3 Finisher
- 8 Full Marathons- 1st Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo-Vidharbha Shree in Bodybuilding