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How a half-marathon during early days at a new job changed Sundeep Chugh's approach

The Benetton India CEO's secret to long-distance running is pacing himself.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 05, 2019, 12.10 PM IST
Sundeep Chugh
Few understand this better than Benetton India CEO Sundeep Chugh who ran a half-marathon in 2008 to prove his mettle in a new job.
An avid runner, Sundeep Chugh, CEO, Benetton India, ran a half-marathon in the early days of a new job to prove his mettle.

First impressions can go a long way in a new organisation. Few understand this better than Benetton India CEO Sundeep Chugh who ran a half-marathon in 2008 to prove his mettle in a new job. While covering eight to 10 kms came easily to Chugh, who has been a runner for almost 35 years, he suddenly had to push himself to run 21 kms when he found that the employees at his new organisation were competing in a half-marathon. “I had to do something to prove that I had arrived in the organisation,” Chugh said during a phone interview with ETPanache. Having missed the last date to sign up, Chugh ran in place of another colleague who dropped out at the last minute. “I was able to run the first 15-16 kms, but the last few [kilometres] were really difficult because I was running without preparation,” said Chugh.

Track record
“I kept saying to myself: ‘Sundeep, if you do this, then tomorrow when you go back to office, people will recognise you as the guy who runs; and that he ran 21 kms in this much of time’. Fortunately, I was able to clock the best time in my office. And that’s how I arrived in that organisation.” Today, more than a decade and a couple of marathons later, Chugh still considers the race as his most challenging. “It was one of the most difficult runs I’ve ever done, but it was done for a purpose and the self-conviction that I could do it. Completing that run made a difference to my overall approach at the organisation.”

Break it down
Chugh’s secret to long-distance running is pacing himself. He likes to divide the marathon into manageable phases and work on each separately. “If I have to run 21 km, I divide it into three phases of seven kilometres each. So, you cover phase 1 and then maybe you slow down a little to get ready for phase 2. Long distance running is all about phasing.” It’s a principle that has served him well in the office as well.

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