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Rana prefers to run without a shirt. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Rana prefers to run without a shirt. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Himmat Rana | ‘I’d like to be an Ironman’

He once led a party-heavy lifestyle; now he wants to do the world's toughest triathlon

On The Run | Himmat Rana

Himmat Rana ran his first marathon because he was tired of his lifestyle, which involved lots of alcohol and partying. He needed a radical push in the right direction. This was in 2005, when Rana was working in Philadelphia, US, and the Philadelphia marathon was just a couple of months away. Not only did he finish the run, he clocked in at 3 hours, 15 minutes and 51 seconds, a fantastic finish for a first-timer. The 38-year-old director of products at a Delhi-based mobile entertainment company, GoBindas, has been running ever since, and shares his story. Edited excerpts:

When and why did you get hooked to running?

I started running with my dad as a little kid. My dad was diagnosed with diabetes so he was told to run and walk every morning. He used to make me go with him and I remember not being able to keep up with him but being too scared to tell him that. When I got older and joined a boarding school, I began running in the school’s weekly road run. The winner’s name was announced in assembly in front of the whole school, so I decided to run and I kept coming first.

What’s your running gear?

I usually run in my Saucony running shoes, short shorts and bare-chested. I don’t like wearing a watch, but that is changing as I get older. While training in the park, I have the younger people giving me quick glances because I’m running shirtless, and the older people usually ask me to put on a shirt. I haven’t put it on as yet and don’t plan to either.

What’s your running soundtrack?

I never listen to music while running. I focus on my breathing and need to hear myself breathe.

What’s your regular training routine like?

When I’m training for half marathons, I usually run 60km a week. This is split into four days of the week: a weekend long run of 20-25km, Intervals on Tuesday, which vary in distance from 500m to 3km—the number of splits depends on the distance and company. Wednesdays, I do a slow, 10km run, and Fridays, 12km at mid-pace.

What do you like and what do you dislike about running in Delhi?

I love my running group and that’s the only good thing about running in Delhi. I hate the traffic, weather and pollution. We run all over Delhi. Nehru Park and around Shantipath, India Gate, etc., are favourites. Sometimes we start at Nizamuddin and run to Shantipath. Another popular spot during the week is Rose Garden and Deer Park.

What kind of diet do you follow on race days (pre-, during and post-race)?

I eat everything and loads of it. I have a big appetite. I try to eat more pasta-based dishes as race day approaches to do a carb-overload.

How do you balance your work schedule with running?

Well I’m very disciplined. I sleep on time, I’m up at 5am on the days I run and I’m done training by 7.30 in the morning on most days.

What’s the most challenging marathon you’ve run?

The Philadelphia Marathon. Great experience. Clocked a 3:15.51 after falling down due to unbearable cramps on the 26th mile. My friend picked me up and we finished the race together. The irony is that, in the last mile, I intentionally tried to run faster to beat this same friend to the finish, which led to my cramping.

What is the dream marathon that you’d like to run?

I’d like to be an Ironman (Ironman Triathlon). It starts with a 3.86km swim, then 180.25km of cycling, and finally a full marathon, all done one after the other without a break.

On the Run is a monthly series that profiles India’s most enthusiastic marathon runners.

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