Business Today
What prompts business leaders to take part in marathons
Dearton Thomas Hector finds out what prompts business leaders to take part in marathons.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up you'd better be running


African Proverb

It is a quote often used by motivational speakers while addressing young executives. But lately an increasing number of business leaders have begun taking it literally as well. They too have started running as the sun comes up. Some are even taking part in marathons.

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Anil Ambani, chief of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group; Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel; Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services; Roshini Bakshi, Vice President, Walt Disney, India; Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director, PVR Cinemas; and Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant Foodworks, are only the best known among a sizeable number of honchos spotted running in marathons.

READ:The marathon man

What motivates them? Running a marathon is no joke - the Mumbai Marathon, eight of which have been held so far, makes for a gruelling 42 km in humid conditions. Even the 21 km Delhi Half Marathon - there have been seven to date, the last on November 27 - calls for enormous stamina. But those who run do not see it that way. "I really like the atmosphere during the Delhi Marathon," says Bijli. "The route is very relaxing."

Obviously, preparation is essential. Apart from his regular workout, Bijli runs 12 to 14 km on his treadmill every day for several weeks to train for the Delhi Half Marathon. Kaul runs for about 50 minutes daily. He maintains it has benefits beyond the purely physical. "This is the time when I think company strategies," he says. "Some of my best ideas come during my morning runs."

Doctors warn that running marathons without adequate training can be dangerous. The heart has to get used to pumping the large volumes of blood that circulate as a person runs. "It is also advisable to undergo a treadmill test before you start long distance running," says Dr S.K. Gupta, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals.

For a few weeks before the event it is also important to have carbohydrate-rich meals as a great deal of energy is expended during a marathon run. "The process is called 'carb-loading'," says Aroon Arora, an International Sports Sciences Association-certified trainer.

"Carbohydrate content in diet should increase starting from 60 per cent at first and reaching 90 per cent in the week before the marathon."
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