Jaidhar Gupta, 46, has always been engaged in sport—tennis, table tennis and swimming. But running came to him quite late, at age 25. Even then, he would run 2-3km only on a treadmill. It’s when he moved to San Francisco in 2000 that he took to long-distance running. “The place just has all the ingredients—weather, air quality, active and fit population," says Gupta, founder of Nirvana Being, which provides air pollution solutions and is best known for the anti-pollution Vogmasks. A recreational runner, with several 10km runs under his belt, his only half marathon has been the Athens Half Marathon in 2014. In an email interview, Gupta tells us how running in his 40s has made him more goal-oriented. Edited excerpts:

Do you run with a mask?

No. I find it very difficult to run with a mask. I run at an average speed of 12-13km in an hour. At that speed, I am breathing harder, and that makes wearing a mask tougher. That said, I am very scientific and methodical in my approach to running. I always check the PM 2.5 levels before I run. If it is above 30, I run indoors. And when I say indoors, I run in a controlled environment, with medical grade air purifiers, etc..

How do you balance training and work?

My work as well as being fit—both are very important to me. There are some days where I miss out on running. On those days, I make sure I manage to tuck in 20 minutes for my core training.

On some days, it can be difficult to hit the same pace. Are there lessons to be learnt from this?

That’s life for you, isn’t it? Like everything in life, you go through your highs and lows—you have to ride out the lows and not get too complacent through the highs.

Any leadership lessons from distance running?

Have a game plan and pace yourself, and keep in mind that things almost never go according to plan.

What impact does leading by example as a fit leader have?

Being a leader involves important things—initiative, and being a role model. It’s a lot easier to be a role model if you are fit. Initiative requires action of mind and body—you have to have the stamina to keep driving towards your goals, with limited resources, relentlessly.

Discipline in a runner’s life is paramount. Do you think this discipline also reflects your leadership style?

A runner is always competing, against themselves—to go longer and faster. Discipline allows a runner to meet that goal. You cannot be a leader, a role model, without discipline—always finding fresh ways to meet and beat goals through new ideas and initiatives.

Your best running memory.

Bay to Breakers San Francisco 2006—12.5K race from the San Francisco Bay to the Ocean(Breakers). I think it’s the world’s largest run, with some 80,000 runners annually. I ran with my son, Arya, in a jogging stroller. It has to go down as my numero uno running memory.

Sport and activity have been a big part of my life and I strongly feel that it is imperative for the brain development of a child as well. Also, it is a great way to make friends.

Your toughest race?

Chinese New Year 10K in San Francisco —the race had a lot of uphills and slopes with two laps of 5k through the streets of San Francisco. I had played American football with friends the day prior to the race and woken up a whole new set of muscles. I struggled, finished in an hour and 12 minutes. No matter how long, or short, you have to go into race day rested.

Running With The Boss is a series in which CEOs, MDs and senior executives talk about the importance of a fit team and striking a work-life balance through running.

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