Meet Prasun Sikdar, the MD & CEO of Manipal Cigna Health Insurance, whose journey embodies the fusion of physical endurance and mental fortitude. With a career spanning a decade, Sikdar’s commitment to maintaining peak performance both in the boardroom and on the track is truly inspiring.

Speaking to ETMarkets for Mind Over Money, Sikdar said he adopted running in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since.

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Rising at 5 am four days a week, with Sundays reserved for long-distance runs, Sikdar finds solace and strength in the rhythmic cadence of his footsteps.

Having conquered 18 marathons, including the gruelling Comrades Marathon in South Africa, Sikdar’s journey is a testament to his unwavering determination and unyielding spirit. Edited excerpts:

Q) Thank you for being a part of this segment. With decades of experience under your belt, tell us how you keep yourself mentally and physically fit.

A) Running is the cornerstone of my daily routine. I started running in 2015 and haven’t stopped since. Four days a week at 5 am and Sundays, a long-distance run, is the ingredient for my fitness.It helps me train my mind and body to embrace challenges with resilience, overcome self-imposed limitations, and discover the untapped potential within myself.Running not only caters to my physical fitness but also helps me to keep a positive outlook by beating stress and mental pressures. Each step I take on the track is a step towards strengthening both my mind and body.

Q) You ran 18 marathons. That is commendable. Tell us more about the experience.

A) Running those 18 marathons has been an incredible and transformative journey for me. Each marathon has been a unique and memorable experience filled with personal growth and valuable life lessons.

But to mention, a memorable one would be the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. The challenge ahead was daunting—an 87-kilometre uphill run with over 22,000 runners from across the globe.

For the next 10 hours and 49 minutes, I just ran. As the finish line drew near, emotions surged through me. Holding the Indian flag high, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and joy. Representing my country in a foreign land was a moment I would cherish forever.

Q) How did running help you to stay focused and mentally fit?

A) Participating in marathons has been a transformative experience for me, proving to be more than just a physical challenge; it’s a true test of mental fortitude. I’ve come to appreciate how endurance running pushes me beyond my limits, illustrating the profound connection between mind and body.

When confronted with gruelling moments in the race, it’s my mental resilience that propels me forward, demonstrating the same determination and focus that drives my success in the business world.

The act of enduring the most challenging stretches of the marathon has not only honed my mental clarity but also taught me to stay firmly grounded in the present moment, a skill that undoubtedly translates into making strategic decisions and fostering a thriving corporate environment.

Q) What leadership lessons do you gain from running?

A) Goal-setting and achievement are probably some core lessons that I have grabbed. Training for a marathon involves setting specific and achievable goals, and leaders can learn a great deal from the value of setting ambitious yet realistic goals for themselves and their teams and celebrating the milestones achieved along the way.

Moreover, running also required me to have effective time management to balance training with other responsibilities. As a leader, I applied this lesson to prioritise tasks, manage time efficiently, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Q) Apart from running, are there any other activities that you do to stay focused?

A) Not necessarily activities, but I try to keep my food and sleep in check, which also helps me focus on running, have mental clarity, and better concentration.

As an ultra-marathon runner and MD & CEO of ManipalCigna Health Insurance, I understand the critical role that proper nutrition and sufficient rest play in optimising my performance both on the track and in my career. Hence, I try my best to keep a proper balance between running, diet and sleep.

(Disclaimer: Recommendations, suggestions, views, and opinions given by experts are their own. These do not represent the views of the Economic Times)

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