Pursuit of Happiness

Counting the miles

Meru Cabs' CEO Siddhartha Pahwa has been crossing the finish line, one stride at a time

Soumik Kar

The waves lashing against the boulders don the same hue as that of the overcast sky above the Carter Road promenade. But that doesn't perturb the fitness freaks as they go about their morning routine along the stretch. They jog, they test their muscle strength against the rusty vertical bars on the promenade; a few more jog along, each at their own pace strapped with gadgets that track every mile, every beat and every calorie.

A sprightly figure in a bright white jersey makes his way through and it is immediately evident from his long steady strides that Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs isn’t your casual fitness runner but a marathon man. He candidly admits that he hasn’t always been this fit, “In 2003, when I took my three-year-old son out to teach him football, I found myself huffing and puffing after a couple of minutes.” Just in his early thirties then, Pahwa made a firm resolve to get in shape and picked up running as a fitness exercise. A few months into the routine and he participated in his first half-marathon in Mumbai clocking 13 miles in two hours and forty-five minutes.

While Pahwa did make it to the finishing line, he doesn’t own a certificate to prove his participation as he ran outside the track. The decision to participate was made much after the registrations had closed. But, the first experience certainly was exciting enough for the young executive to train harder and manage a feat of running 12 half-marathons since. However, it was not easy. “In 2003, I started out with 300 metres and have now progressed to six and sometimes 12 km in a trot,” he narrates. 

This marathon evangelist measures his schedule not in terms of days but instead in terms of kilometers covered. With a weekly target of 25-30 km every week, he often switches his running schedule from morning to evening to accomodate work commitments. And what about when’s he travelling out of town for work? “I always carry my running kit along and also have identified gyms at airports where I often tend to have a layover. For instance, Singapore’s Changi airport has a gym that I frequent,” he says.

Pahwa prefers to be gadget-free during his morning runs and only carries his phone to plug into his favourite playlist occasionally. For him, the calm ambience around gives room for some much needed introspection and contemplation. “Being engaged in an individual player sport is very helpful, it gives you time to think. I often end up finding solutions to the issues bothering me when I am running,” he adds.

Pahwa, who clocked his fastest of two hours and seven minutes early this year, is now looking at training for full marathons. But the run doesn't end there. His wishlist has a 100-km marathon between Mumbai and a winter marathon in the United States, which he admits will take some more time and prep. “Marathon running is not so much about physical fitness as it is about mental fitness,” is something Pahwa learnt on his several sprints from the start to the finish line.