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On The Run | Ranu Vohra

Ranu Vohra’s feet have great mileage—they clock up at least 1,000km a year when laced up in running shoes. When the 41-year-old co-founder, managing director and CEO of Avendus Capital, a Mumbai-based financial services firm, began running, it was only to lose weight. Now it’s an integral part of his life. He’s run the last three editions of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, and shared his running story while preparing for his fourth appearance there on 20 January. Edited excerpts:

When and why did you get hooked to running?

Until 2006, I had only logged in a cumulative 40km in my life. Due to the long hours and sedentary schedule at work, I piled on the pounds. Nandita, my wife, pushed me on to the treadmill at the local gym. I enjoyed running so much that it quickly spilled out to the outdoor world. The Mahalaxmi Race Course (in Mumbai) and Central Park (in New York) are my favourites. Now I have logged in more than 5,000km in the last five years.

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

I like the fact that there’s “predictable weather" most of the year, though I like running during the monsoons too. The sea breeze makes it special, so does the coconut water available aplenty to replenish the body’s electrolytes. I dislike the traffic and the lack of green spaces to run, though the race course and the Borivali National Park (Sanjay Gandhi National Park) are exceptions.

What’s your favourite running gear?

ASICS shoes, my Garmin Forerunner 610 watch with heart-rate monitor, bottles for hydration and my “sunnies" for those bright days. I also like listening to music on my iPod.

What’s your running soundtrack?

Several. I listen to Sufi music, Tibetan master chants and soft rock. My current favourites are the soundtrack for Don, Lenka’s Everything At Once, Adele’s Skyfall and Set Fire to the Rain.

What’s your regular training routine like?

I run three-four days a week. Regular weekday runs are 7-8km and a long Sunday run of 18-30km, depending on the time of year.

I try and log in 25-30km during the lean months, when I’m not preparing for a marathon, and increase it to 60–65km per week during peak training.

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

Pre-race it’s oatmeal or wheat dalia with raisins, dates and apples. I also try and have a pasta meal and a green salad the night before. During the race, it’s dates, GU Chomps (sport-specific energy chews) for electrolytes (though I’ve had hot dogs and chicken patties on the way in some places). After the race, lots of fluids and occasionally, rice dishes.

How do you balance your work and travel schedule with running?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I try and run very early—sometimes as early as 5.30 in the morning, so it doesn’t interfere with my calls or meetings.

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

The Mumbai Marathon in 2010 was very challenging. It was a hot day and water supplies ran out on the way. Crossing the sea link during that marathon was the most difficult part—there was just no water. The sea link had never appeared longer.

Then once I lost all my hydrating drinks and energy drinks in Australia (someone just walked away with them) and had to run back a long distance without any drinks or the money to buy them.

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

From what friends have told me Barcelona is high up on my list, followed by New York. Want to feel the buzz and excitement of both. Running has to come with its share of fun, panoramic views and a vibrant co-runners group.

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

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