I recently ran Ladakh marathon which is arguably ‘World’s Highest Marathon’. This marathon takes place at Leh at about 11,000+ ft. I have been a long distance runner for quite a while, but the challenges at this altitude are totally different. I couldn’t help but compare these challenges with what I have faced in ‘running’ ProtoTech for last 13 years. Here are some of the insights from that comparison.

1. Higher you rise, tougher it gets: Oxygen levels in Leh are about 60% of that at sea level (where I live). Altitude sickness strikes you without warning. It was very important to be aware of these factors and have a plan for them. At ProtoTech, as we grow, the problem dynamics keep changing. The resource planning and the project size scale to the levels at which previously successful practices don’t necessarily work. This is something that needs to be kept in mind while planning.

2. Acclimatization is a must: We reached Leh at the peak of our 8 months of training. My first shock was on the day one when I climbed two flights of stairs to my hotel room on the first floor. I was totally breathless and felt exhausted. Thought of running 21 km sent chills down the spine. Luckily we had about 8 days to let our bodies get used to. At the end of it, we got so used to the conditions that our bodies were as capable of exerting as much as at sea level. At ProtoTech, during the peak times of our business performance, I found it hard to sustain the same growth rate. I had then decided to let things settle down (aka acclimatize) before going for the next push.

3. All races are not meant for your personal best (PB): I saw many seasoned runners failing badly at Ladakh marathon. It seemed to me that they pushed themselves to the brink early on and ended up in dropping out before the finish line. My personal best for a half marathon at sea level is around 2 hours and I had no intention of bettering it in Leh. Adjusting to the conditions, I had targeted to finished is under 2 hrs 30 mins which I was able to do with a strong finish. While running the business, I have to be aware of such conditions where consistency and reliability are appropriate targets than performance or growth. This awareness helps me make the right decisions.

Running long distances and running a company for long – both are sustained by similar fundamental tenets. The more I run, the better the insights I get.

Author: Rajesh Bhartiya
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