July 6, 2023
Ajayraj Shrivastava draws parallels between running marathons and managing Infor cloud ops
“I believe running may or may not add days to our life, but it definitely adds life to our days.”
Ajayraj Shrivastava, Senior Manager, Cloud Services Operations, regards himself as a work in progress, a lifelong learner who meets challenges every day through determination, knowledge-sharing, collaboration, discovering new things—and long-distance running.
Ajayraj began competing in collegiate running events 25+ years ago, initially to challenge his physical conditioning and endurance. After competing—and winning—at the intercollegiate level for almost 5 years, he took a break to focus on growing his career. Following the hiatus, Ajayraj returned to running, transitioning to marathons, which focus more on endurance and less on speed. Fast forward to today, Ajayraj has run in nearly all the prestigious marathon events in India, including 25+ full and 40+ half marathons.
“For me, long-distance running is a stress buster—like a meditation that sets me up to face the challenges of the day,” he says.
Long-distance running requires dedication, perseverance, and continuing transformation. Ajayraj sees a parallel in his role at Infor and running marathons—both help him along his self-actualization journey—through similar tasks, processes, and learnings.
“I find running a marathon and being a project manager strikingly similar. Running is about getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible, and that’s also what is required of a project manager,” Ajayraj says. “When managing a project, you set goals and objectives, establish a plan and milestones, identify the resources required to mitigate risk. You trust the plan, which culminates in the successful completion of the project or marathon, followed by a celebration. You’re then on to the next race/project.”
Ajayraj now competes as a “master runner,” one who is older than 40. He has had 15 finishes in 4th to 10th place in the master runner category for 10 k/half and full marathons. In 2022, Ajayraj achieved his first podium finish (2nd place) in the NEB Hyderabad Half Marathon in the master category.
Fun fact: Ajayraj never looks at his watch or checks his time until he completes a race.
Meeting lofty goals
When you think about the preparation and process for managing a project, you set goals and objectives and develop a vision for long-term success and execution. If you encounter challenges, you adjust—but always keep the vision at the forefront. Ajayraj applies these entrepreneurial principles to his running career. He set a goal months ago to complete his first ultramarathon (50k/31 miles), and on Feb. 26, completed the Tata Ultramarathon in Lonavala in just under six hours.
The Tata Ultramarathon was run along the Sahyadri Route, with elevations reaching more than 800 meters. “It was so very challenging. This type of hill running requires specific training,” Ajayraj says. “And training on hills is not an option in the city. I had to adjust my run execution plan at the very steep elevations and walk, although it upset my rhythm.”
Ajayraj still has more to accomplish. “Self-actualization means realizing your full potential,” he explains. “Long-distance running is a lonely sport, and self-motivation is the key. A couple of years ago, my goal was just to enjoy running and not focus on timing and completing the race. Post-Covid, I realized I have chance for a podium finish in the master’s category with changes in my training and personal effort. I’m working toward achieving my personal best target of sub-three hours to complete a full marathon, and to qualify for Boston and other international marathons. I also have plans to compete in my first Ironman in October.”
Advice on long-distance running
“It’s the most hassle-free sport. Join a runner’s club or run with friends to stay encouraged and motivated. Be sure to have a good pair of shoes, step outside into nature, and get moving.”