04/07/2017 3 Comment(s) Ultra Distance Running,

What is the most crucial time every Chartered Accountant goes through? The phase which decides your career. One for sure, would be the CA final exam consisting of 8 papers of 3 hours each. What if you were told to give these exams back to back nonstop? Can you? Is it achievable? Do you have the strength & determination? I am not challenging, but asking you to give it a thought.


Our lives revolve around various inevitable energies, both positive and negative which define our life styles and living. The ones who manage to balance usually seek happiness and success.


I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2012 and I am yet self working on striking the balance right, every moment, and every day! How do I do it?


My agenda each day is pretty simple: RUN -> WORK -> REST -> REPEAT


At most interviews for work, I was tossed up this question “Tell me a little about you?” I had a standard reply “Chartered Accountant with a heart of an Ultra Distance runner.” Next, the interview would soon roll more about running and a little on the regular questions. In fact in one of the companies where I previously worked, the CEO and myself exclusively spoke on distance running in the final round of my interview. The CEO was a Distance Runner too! Could this be a game changer to your job opportunity?


Health and fitness is a prime concern and importance for all. Let me discuss a little on how Distance Running changed my life, how it helped me to turn into a better human and how things changed positively at work. I have been distance running since 1992 on the hills at Panchgani and then kept graduating. In 2016, I completed running 6 Ultra marathons:


Enduarthon54.0 at Silvassa (54 Kms), Shimla Ultra at Mashobra, Shimla (70 Kms), Matheran Endurathon at Matheran (50 Kms), 12 hours Mumbai Ultra at Mumbai (84 Kms), 24 hours Bangalore Ultra (125 Kms) and Western Ghats Ultra, Pune (125Kms).  In April 2017, I won the 100 miles race Sahyadri100 which was a grueling run in the heat above 45 degrees from Nashik to Mumbai. In June 2017, I toed and finished my first International Ultra Comrades 2017 Up Run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa! Each of these journeys were beautiful and a learning experience.


Distance running gives me the runners high, helps me to focus better, boosts my memory, increases my concentration and keeps me healthy and fit. It is important to first plan your day and ensure that we make space for exercise every day. I am very passionate about distance running and I kick start my day with what I love i.e. running! It’s my “Me Time.”


Reminiscing my Shimla Ultra, when I had reached the 10k mark, I met a runner from the army who was confused with the trail. Both of us went 1km off the official trail by mistake and ended up being chased by wild mountain dogs. We panicked and ran for our lives with utmost fright. For a moment I thought “this is it, race ends” but fought back and got back into the race. This experience taught me how to balance, calm and handle the mind during such incidents because we do not face such situations during the practice runs.


The moment I get settled in the race, a thought would pop into my head. I start diving into my vivid thoughts about training and my memories begin to fling back. At Bangalore Ultra, it took me 24 seconds to get zoned into my 24 hours run. It was beautiful and scenic running in the midst of Bamboo forest. I believe that all our running experiences live in our body whether you believe it literally or metaphorically. I try to prompt that during my tougher segments of the race to pass through that phase. 


I run for healthy living and enjoy testing my fitness levels. I am constantly working on this mission every single day of my life. At Matheran Ultra things were really well and I knew I was going to knock out the 50k in good time. At 36k I slipped, tumbled and fell off straight on my face severely injuring both my palms, scrapes all over my body & bruising my right knee. I was lucky to have missed injury on my skull and nose but I had lost a lot of blood. It was a "Man down" scenario. It was my fault I should have been more vigilant. Volunteers helped me with first aid. I kept telling myself that every race is a new journey and new things to learn but the inner side of training and spirit in me kept talking to me that exiting was unacceptable. So I got my act together & was back on the trails running like war junkie. I earned the finishers medal literally with sweat & blood & it was worth every bit!


Run O’clock- I start my day early and train in the mornings by 5am which makes me feel positive and energetic to face the day ahead. When my races are close, I train hard which takes away 40% of my energy leaving me with only 60% of energy with which I need to juggle 100% day at work. Sounds scary? Not really, In fact due to limited energy, i focus my time and energy on relevant things. It has helped me to manage my day with limited resources. Training daily helps me to get better which I apply at work too. Based on similar logic, executing the same activity at office decreases my learning curve and helps me to get efficient at what I do in a much lesser time. By engaging in distance running daily, I gain confidence to strike a positive work-life balance, work smarter and keeps me sharper.


Running has helped me in Stress management and I enjoy traversing the training process. When you run, the body releases endorphins which make you feel better and relaxed. I distinctly remember that my body was incredibly paining at 105th Kilometer and remained plagued after I was injured at Western Ghats Ultra at but I was yet ready to face thorny challenges ahead.


Ultra running is growing exponentially and demands tremendous amount of discipline. From learning the basics of stretching, to mastering variants of running techniques, attending all events/races, setting (and reaching!) goals, respecting a new diet, committing, trying, failing and re trying again. Running ultra distances (More than 42.195 Kms) makes you humble. It is an important quality to incorporate within us.


I usually do not have a blanket format of race strategies. But for each race, I do study the terrain, the facilities available by the race organizers, the weather conditions, mid run snacking facilities and formulate my plan accordingly. Once that is in line, I visualize and perform mental walkthroughs 10 days prior to the race e.g. what speed will I run at 10k mark, how much and what food would I eat after 50k mark, when will I change my socks and t-shirt and the time required for performing that action, my criteria for fuelling throughout the race etc. When I do this regularly, my planning skills improve generally and help me even beyond running.


Being an Ultra distance runner, I dedicate myself to achieve my goals every race which help me to develop self discipline that has boosted my Chartered Accountancy career overall. I follow my running mantra religiously i.e. “The WILL should be stronger than the SKILL.”


Distance running demands tremendous amount of discipline. From learning the basics of stretching, to mastering variants of running techniques, attending all events/races, setting (and reaching!) goals, respecting a new diet, committing, trying, failing and re trying again. Running ultra distances (More than 42.195 Kms) makes you humble. It is an important quality to incorporate within us.


Being an Ultra distance runner, I dedicate myself to achieve my goals every race which help me to develop self discipline that has boosted my Chartered Accountancy career overall. I follow my running mantra religiously i.e. “The WILL should be stronger than the SKILL.”


Distance running can be done anywhere anytime. One need not restrict themselves into indoors. I love to travel, explore new places and snag a good view of the nature on my run which has improved my self esteem.  When I run, I make new friends who are like minded and fitness fanatics. I enjoy having healthy breakfast with them post run along with distance running conversations. Due to my running commitments, I seldom sleep late, eat junk food or engage in unhealthy habits.


Distance running gets the sunny side of me and will get you too. So get fit and get stronger. Running ultra distances helps me to understand my endurance levels and keeps me on the go. Bangalore Ultra was a beautiful experience. It was like giving all CA Final 8 papers at a single stroke. I am currently training for my next milestone of 135 miles (220 Kms) races. Running is about getting vagabonded, grind it out every day! Happy longer miles! Running makes me Smile!! As always, I look forward to your comments.


For any insights on Distance running, please feel free to connect:
CA Sunny Bhanawala

3 Comment(s)

Zoran Patheria:
06/08/2017, 12:32:39 PM

Sunny absolutely agree with you. And thank you so much for your tips and guidance. You are an inspirstion

Sunny Bhanawala:
15/08/2017, 01:54:57 PM

Zoran thank you so much. Humbled! My best wishes for your upcoming Ironman at Denmark! Keep Rocking!

Anthony Dsouza:
06/08/2017, 01:23:19 PM

Sunny wonderful,You deserve a salute for hard work and discipline life.keep going friend.

Sunny Bhanawala:
15/08/2017, 01:56:02 PM

Thank you so much Anthony. You are an inspiration!

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