Two-time winner of the Ironman title, Indian Triathlete and ultra-runner Abhishek Mishra shares his fitness mantras and offers tips for those keen on reaching the top.

What began as a pursuit of passion, turned into the experience of a lifetime. Ultra runner Abhishek Mishra says that breaking physical barriers involved moving out of his comfort zone  But today, there’s no looking back.

The magic mantra
Abhishek’s winning formula is an astounding mix of physical fitness and spiritual well being. “For me, fitness has different levels to it,” he says.  In his mind, being healthy and fit are two separate things.

The first, being healthy, means being in control of your own health and well-being. The second, fitness, is more specific.  “Fitness is in the mind, and body, and determines whether someone can run a marathon or not.”

Fitness as a lifestyle
Abhishek is able to maintain his intense level of activity, because fitness is integral to his daily routine. “I have been running for the past 7 years, and haven’t really trained specifically for any event except for the Ironman swimming event,” he says.

Still, he adheres to a rigorous fitness regimen. The star triathlete swims twice a week, cycles on two other days, and runs 2 to 3 days a week. But he reserves one day, for rest. “When you are running for the experience and not to win or lose, then it becomes a part of your lifestyle. And when fitness becomes a lifestyle, it brings in consistency.”

In the business of fitness
When he is not running or training, Abhishek pursues his passion in another way. “I have started a company that organizes corporate wellness programmes and running events across India. The focus is on tier-II cities to promote community-running events. Our idea is to promote physical and social well-being,” he adds.

A year ago, he launched the first community-oriented full marathon named ‘Millennium City Marathon’ in Gurgaon. More recently, he hosted Lucknow City’s first half-marathon. His future aspirations include bringing the one-day Ironman Triathlon to India.

His motivation
Abhishek believes that his ability to make his experiences a part of the journey, has motivated him to break and set new limits for himself. “My triathlete journey has been a philosophical one, and I have realized that when you cross physical boundaries, your mental barriers are broken.”

Though he feels he has still to find his inspiration for life, he is grateful for his friend and mentor, Milind Soman. “Milind Soman is a regular at running events and has been my mentor and a constant motivator. We did a run recently from Delhi to Lucknow starting from India Gate.”

His nutritional preferences
As far as eating is concerned, Abhishek believes in natural foods. “You start running to maintain an active lifestyle and eating processed food is like pulling yourself right back onto the couch.”

He is a vegetarian and believes strongly that vegetarian food has adequate nutrition. “I only eat natural energy boosters like banana and drink cooled jaggery water, especially when cycling during summers.”

His advice to beginners
“Technicalities can be learnt from anyone and anywhere,” he says. Failures are an experience and not the end of life. Running is not about speed or winning.

“Start slow,” reiterates Abhishek. “Don’t fall into the race. Have a clear intention of why you are running. Know your intensity and understand the muscles you are using, and study your form.”

Finally, this Ironman says that aspiring athletes must discover their own pace, gradually. The main idea, he says, is to go easy and enjoy the process, since pushing too hard may backfire. “Running is not about making a fashion statement, rather it is about inspiring yourself.”