Meet the Ultramarathon Champion Who Works 12 Hours a Day in a Jewelry Factory

Meet the Ultramarathon Champion Who Works 12 Hours a Day in a Jewelry Factory

When we post the workouts that our ultra-fit cover stars use to get shredded, we often hear a familiar bit of feedback from our readers.

“How are we supposed to even aspire to that level of fitness,” they ask, “when those guys are getting paid to look fit? The rest of us regular Joes have to put in long hours at our desks or on the sales floor or at our own businesses! We don’t have time for 3-hour workouts!” (Although we should note that there’s more to being Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson or Matt Bomer than just working out a lot.)

Some days are so busy or exhausting, you need every last ounce of willpower just to drag your ass to the gym—let alone crush a high-intensity workout or set a PR in the deadlift. We’ve all been there.

So consider the example of Abbas Sheikh, a man from Mumbai. Sheikh works at a factory as a jewel polisher for 12 hours a day. (Do you work in a factory for 12 hours a day? Hopefully not, since working more than 55 hours a week can up your risk for a stroke by 33%.)

Before he heads to work, though, he wakes up at 5 a.m., before the city heats up and the traffic gets too heavy, and he goes for a run along Mumbai’s Marine Drive. After starting a routine with his friend in the mornings (alternating 100 meters running with 100 meters walking). Sheikh has become one of his country’s top ultramarathon runners, logging victories in the 75km ultra and then the 100km ultra—all while polishing jewelry for 12 hours a day.

In a short movie for The Atlantic, documentary filmmaker Veena Rao captures a day in Sheikh’s life.