He may be travelling half the month on work but he makes the time to run. Mahesh Jayaraman, the Chennai-based director of Multivista Global Ltd, an air and gas compressor dealership firm, started participating in marathons in 2010. He has completed 31 half marathons, 14 marathons (including three overseas) and one ultra marathon. His best timing for a marathons is 4 hours, 49 minutes. Currently training for the Berlin Marathon, scheduled for September, Jayaraman says he likes to combine his passion for travel with running. “It’s a double treat. I have travelled and run marathons in India because each city comes with its own challenge." Edited excerpts from an interview:

When did the running bug bite you?

Back in 2005, I had started to get uncomfortable with my weight and body and that prompted me to sign up for a gym class during the mornings and run during the evenings. While the gym habit didn’t last very long, the running habit stuck. From running solo, I joined Chennai Runners, a popular running group, and progressed from 10k to 21k and then full marathons. Last year, I completed my first ultra.

What has been your toughest race?

I am not sure if I should call it my toughest, or craziest, race. I was training to run one of India’s toughest courses, the Hyderabad Marathon in 2014, and injured my toe; it required stitches. But I wasn’t willing to let go of the race despite what my wife and doctor were telling me. I comfortably ran 30km. The trouble started when the stitches came apart and my foot started bleeding. I got first-aid, stretched and set out again because I hate the “did not finish" tag. I limped to the finish line. I would advise other runners against this.

How have you changed since you started running?

I used to be a short-tempered person who would literally explode in office. After running, I have calmed down a lot. I am more patient and that has gone a long way in dealing with a team of 150 members whom I manage across geographies. My personal discipline has changed. I used to be a late riser and never turned up at office before 10am. Today, I am up at 4am and finish my run by 7am. By 8.30am, I am in office and have time to plan my day before everyone else walks in. On the personal front, it has given me more time with the family.

What leadership lessons have you learnt?

Being in a sales role and handling a team of salesmen, I know the importance of targets and time management. When you run a marathon, you believe you are sorted for the next and make elaborate plans. But even after 14 marathons, I have always encountered a new type of problem in each race. Similarly, in a sales role, your best-laid plans can come crashing down but you need to be prepared to face any challenge and reach your targets.

Have you inspired people around you to take up running?

My newfound discipline has changed the way my team works. I am more organized and that has driven my team to follow the same path and plan their days better. Being in sales, I have always been very aggressive about achieving targets. Running is similar because there is always a new goal to hit, even if you are running the same 42.2km each time. So, I may be selling the same products but now I know there is always a new and better way to do it.

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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