Episode: 2

Running on Your Own Terms

Snigdha Sur,

Founder & CEO of The Juggernaut

In this episode, Chacho is joined by Snigdha Sur, Founder & CEO of The Juggernaut. Together they discuss Snigdha’s running journey, how running impacts her work, and how going to the bottom has long-term upside for runners.


Highlights from their conversation include:

  • Snigdha’s road to running (2:35)
  • Why Snigdha runs & her running routine (5:20) 
  • How running impacts Snigdha’s work as a startup founder (10:47)
  • The biggest misconception people have with running (19:29)
  • Snigdha’s go to soundtrack for running (29:33)


Backstage Capital is a VC firm that boasts one of the largest portfolios of underrepresented founders in venture. To learn more about Backstage, visit backstagecapital.com.


Automated Transcription – May Contain Errors

Chacho Valadez 00:08
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to running in public. This is the weekly podcast that empowers you to build your running routine, while also making strides in your career. I’m your host, Chacho, validez. And this is my first ever Podcast. I’m so so happy about it. And each episode, I sit down with a startup founder, operator or leader to talk about their experience of running while they also build and run their companies. You’ll walk away feeling empowered to run your next mile while also making strides in your career. And honestly, we support any form of movement on the podcast that suits your lifestyle. So whether you like to run, walk, bike, or swim or whatever it might be, we’re all in this together. Running in public is sponsored by Arlen Hamilton’s new recruiting and retention, a startup runner. A really cool name if I say so myself and totally coincidental on both our parts. Are you an entrepreneur who wishes there were more time in the day? Have you ever said I wish I could clone myself, then runner is for you. If you find yourself spending more time scheduling, researching and fielding emails, and talking to your customers strategizing and resting runner could be a game changer for you. Get matched with fractional attempt to hire operations talent, who want to work at your inclusive startup. fast growing larger companies are using runner to hire dozens of operations talent at a time runner is ahead of recruiting best friends. Interested in learning more or becoming a runner yourself? Apply it hire runner.co That’s hire runner.co. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to running and public your favorite running podcast. Hopefully, today. I’m excited to have Snigdha sir with us today. She’s the founder and CEO of the Juggernaut, which is a media company and community for the South Asian diaspora and beyond. And for the South Asian curious. And so Snigdha thanks so much for joining me today.

Snigdha Sur 02:12
So thanks so much for having me. I always love talking to fellow runners. It’s like a secret life otherwise,

Chacho Valadez 02:19
I know, right? Yeah. And that’s part of the reason I created this podcast, because I had noticed that there’s so many people in tech that are runners. And so yes, it’s really, really fun. So we’ll get right into it. How did you get started running?

Snigdha Sur 02:33
That’s such a great question. So I think growing up, I was totally the nerd. I actually know growing up, I was totally the nerd. So I would go home. And I think I watched a lot of food network and a lot of cartoon shows. And I remember convincing my mom to sign me up for piano lessons. And that was mostly my life, which is reading a lot watching a lot of TV and playing piano. And sports didn’t really figure in because my dad grew up, you know, grew up in India, I was born in India. So for my dad, sports was equivalent of cricket. And so when you come to the US as an immigrant, there’s no exact sports equivalent that my parents got excited about. So I didn’t really have that in my life. And one of the first things that happened when I went to high school is that I realized something needed to change. Like, I knew I was unhealthy. I was clear, I loved food, and I love food still to this day, but I knew I was unhealthy I could tell. And I decided on the whim of one of my best friends from middle school who was going to high school with me that we would sign ourselves up to be walk ons to the Stuyvesant High school cross country team. And so that’s how the journey began. And for folks who’ve never run before, I remember our first day running was so brutal. The only instructions our coach gave us was make sure you just keep going and if you need to stop walk, but I want you to run we would go to Central Park around the bridle, I want you to run the entirety around the bridle. That’s about 1.5 miles and for someone who had never run before, it was terrible and terrifying. And it was also the reason I realized why shoes matter so much. But that was my beginning. That was my running journey. I was 14 quite late, but

Chacho Valadez 04:09
but or early or early. Yeah. That’s cool. Speaking of loving food, what is your favorite pre run snack?

Snigdha Sur 04:19
Oh, great question. So these days, I one of the one of my things that I do all the time, like answering indirectly is I always go for this Saturday 10:15am class. And in the morning if I don’t have time to actually eat a proper meal without knowing I can digest it. i People probably hate hearing this. I just like rely on my fast to continue. So before this 10:15am class I just drink some water and maybe if I can squeeze it in a little bit of chai, but usually I don’t try to force it because it’s the morning and it’s usually brutal run. But if it’s an after noon run my favorite snack is usually a slice of apple with a little bit of peanut butter because then you get the fast moving cars But then you also get a little bit of that protein and fat from the peanut butter.

Chacho Valadez 05:04
Nice. Yeah, I made the mistake once of just eating a banana before morning run. And then towards the end of my run, I’m like, Why does my stomach feel nauseous? And it’s like, nope. It apples for sure. Why do you run? I love

Snigdha Sur 05:19
to your comment that, you know, it seems like a lot of tech people run. And I think there’s a certain element of both precision and wild abandon when you run. So for me, I’ve, for me, running is such a stress reliever. It’s the one time in my day where I usually have my phone on silent, the only thing I have going on my phone is either a podcast, if it’s a long run, or music, if it’s more of a short or high intensity run, and my notifications are off, I’m in my zone. And it really allows you to kind of escape from the day to day and get some like clarity and distance from the problems you’re solving. And you’ve probably heard this a lot on your podcast, it seems like some of those thorny issues you’ve been thinking about for a while sometimes get solved on runs, or sometimes because you’re letting your mind wander. You’re so knee deep in day to day stuff that you forget to zoom out and know what that big issue is. And when you’re just running and letting your mind wander, your mind has an insane ability to like, remind you of what the big thing is. So suddenly, things will come up in my brain that I hadn’t thought of in weeks, like, Hey, you forgot to like go back to that partnership that you wanted to do with crosswords. Do you want to think about that, again, because I’m reminding you that your brain is reminding you. And so I think that there’s, there’s that twofold element of one, it makes you have that it allows you to have that escape. And second, it allows you to have that clarity in the distance and kind of your brain best brainstorming. And the third, like, you know, this is this might be too serious. But it also makes me feel healthy. It allows me to like start off the day, right? And like make those right choices throughout the day. Like I ran the New York City Marathon a couple years ago, or maybe it was, oh my God, it was three years ago now. Can’t believe time, what is the time and I remember that i i I was not drinking during that time. I was not eating packaged food during that time. Not because I was forcing myself because your body just like adjusts and like just rejects anything that’s like bad for it as it’s doing this intense thing.

Chacho Valadez 07:20
That’s really cool. Yeah, actually came up with the idea of this podcast on our long run. Which is yeah, and there’s so many ideas like pop in my head while I’m running. And it’s like, I’m could be listening to Harry Potter. But then like something like this comes up in my head. I’m like, Oh, let me open up the Notes app and write this down real quick.

Snigdha Sur 07:40
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that feeling,

Chacho Valadez 07:44
right. It’s, it’s amazing. What does your running routine look like?

Snigdha Sur 07:48
Right now as I’m running the company, I have relied on classes sometimes to tell me what to do, because it kind of just helps me delegate some of that decision making. So every Saturday it’s so funny, right? When this podcast started, I actually opened up my Equinox app and booked my class for tomorrow. But every Saturday do a precision run class at Equinox. And it’s a 45 minute running class, that’s a hit workout where the instructor guides you through like a 45 minute run, where there’s different interval training, there’s different recovery, there’s different incline, there’s different speeds, and just keeps you on your toes. So I call it like my fast run to keep my speed up and to keep my endurance up. In other situations when the weather’s much better outside in New York, like during the summer or during the fall. I usually go for my long runs in Central Park. So I’ll take a MetroCard. Now you don’t even need a MetroCard you just use your phone and I just take my phone and go take the app all the way up to Central Park Columbus Circle. And then I go run north, get to the bridle run around and that gives you about anywhere from six to eight miles. And that’s been one of my favorite like outdoor runs. But frankly, during the winter time I just hunkered down and I tried to get in and as mentioned many precision runs I can drink

Chacho Valadez 09:00
Yeah, that’s something I’ve been trying to figure out is like what do I do during the winter? I’m I’m based in Michigan and so it’s like the bypass gets real icy and I’ve had some falls the past few years. I’m like no need to figure something else out.

Snigdha Sur 09:14
No, it’s not worth it. It’s just safety. Yeah, I agree with you. My friend. One of my best friends from high school tried to convince me to sign up for a half marathon in New York in January and it was like immediate like Wait, isn’t it going to be icy? What if the snow falls just because gone through too many high school brutal runs in the winter time and it just wasn’t fun.

Chacho Valadez 09:33
So it is running through Central Park today as an adult bring you back memories to high

Snigdha Sur 09:37
school 100% I think to this day, I think only a couple of weeks ago it happened. I would constantly joke to my friends that I’ve never walked through Central Park in my life. I’ve only run through it which is incredible. Which is really funny as a New Yorker because like right it’s everywhere. It’s like across 40 blocks like to the north and like multiple avenues like horizontally so it’s it’s kind of incredible that I Ever had had that chance? I think a couple of weeks ago, I actually went on a walking, meeting with somebody. And that was so refreshing because I didn’t have to pay attention to where I walked. I was actually getting to enjoy the foliage. But yes, I’ve, it brings back so many wonderful memories of being young and all the good stuff. And it constantly bump into people on the path, which New York City is a city, but it sometimes feels like a village. Like I bumped into college classmates or friends from before I once bumped into a college alum who I was wearing, like my college cap. And he like stopped me as I was running. He’s like, young lady, and I was like, Whoa, am I in trouble. And it’s this older gentleman and he goes, young lady, I went to that theme school. Like, it’s so nice to see people from that school running in Central Park. I was like, oh, okay, I’ll take that. So,

Chacho Valadez 10:45
yeah, that’s nice. How does running affect your work?

Snigdha Sur 10:49
It makes such a world of difference. Right now I have, I’m actually a little bit under the weather, and I missed my workout last weekend, and you feel it mentally, like you don’t feel as sharp, it actually makes it harder to fall asleep sometimes. And I would say running plus cross training, I actually do a lot of cross training. So if I’m running intensely, I always recommend this to young runners. Of course, every body is different. But this has helped me a ton is I always do yoga. So if I have an intense run on a Saturday, like I booked my Saturday run on Sunday, I do usually a longer like low steady state run, and then I follow it up with yoga. It’s made such a huge difference in my body, because you have to cross train, if you’re doing intensive workouts or intensive runs is something that I’ve learned. So whenever I’m not running, I feel like everything else falls like it’s like a deck of cards, so I’m not running, then I’m not doing yoga, then I’m not doing my other cross turning hit class or my weightlifting class, and then it just all falls down. And so it’s it’s kind of the centerpiece that keeps my my physical health going, which is a lot right on something. But

Chacho Valadez 11:51
yeah, I know. Right? Yeah, I noticed that when I am not like in a running practice. I have Yeah, my mental health is also goes whack. And it’s like I don’t, I don’t feel as confident or I don’t feel like I have more imposter syndrome. I feel like I can accomplish things. And for whatever reason, like running, and that steady movement really helps with that.

Snigdha Sur 12:16
Yeah, no mental health, for sure. I feel slower. I feel like more snappy at my partner. Sometimes I’m like, Yeah, you can take out the trash, like, you know, it’s just, it just infects everything. And sometimes when I’m having a tough day, like a really tough day, and it’s not the winter time, or maybe it is the winter time, and I sometimes will tell my team, hey, I got to really go for a run. And I’ll go like in the middle of the day, like a 4pm instead of my usual like 630 Because it’s sometimes really, really is what I need. And for some people, it’s it’s the same effect I have with like Bollywood movies, like sometimes have a really tough day and the end of the night. I’m like, you know, I’m gonna just reward myself by watching a Bollywood movie at 1.5x on Netflix, because this is what I need right now.

Chacho Valadez 12:56
Awesome. I have not seen any. So I have to get some of your recommendations.

Snigdha Sur 13:00
Oh, always happy to happy to provide that service. Awesome.

Chacho Valadez 13:03
So would you consider running part of your job?

Snigdha Sur 13:07
Great question. I mean, I guess I’ve never really thought of the word job in a long time. I think as a founder, you often think of it right? True. Yeah, you often think of it is like your baby or like your identity. It’s like so tied to identity. And I think similar to that, I would say running is so tied to my identity. In fact, I was just like reminding myself, I was checking my Instagram, my personal Instagram. And I this is like how I describe myself because you know, this is like where hopefully my personal friends are hanging out. Founder and CEO of the Juggernaut runner code or Bollywood buff, like the first thing I chose was runner, like, I could have chosen everything else. I mean, obviously I said what my quote unquote job is, but after that the first identity I chose this runner. And I think partly it’s because maybe going back to what you said, about why I still thinking about that, why are so many people in tech runners, there’s a few similar kind of personality traits, right? This kind of I hate the phrase type A personality, but it’s like the kind of personality that wants to keep excelling and keep improving about your keep improving and keep beating yourself. I joined cross country for a reason, right? My biggest competition in cross country wasn’t usually other runners. It was myself. I was like, How do I beat my own time? How do I get better at core workouts so I can be stronger so I can run faster? Like it was always about beating yourself and I think there’s a similar Emily Edelman Tech where if you just are constant comparing yourself to other companies, or other CEOs or other founders are gonna be deeply, deeply unhappy. But if you can just look at yourself and like, Oh, my personal record, like at Equinox that hit classes based on your personal record time, which is the speed you can run at twice for one minute straight. And my personal record right now that is that helps base the tempo of every other kind of segment of that run is 8.5 miles per hour. And I always think well, how do we move that up? And I knew I was sick with COVID I got COVID Like last year, oh my god the year before. Got, yeah, I got COVID last year, and I, my personal, my PR went down to seven. And I had to fight my way back up to 8.5. My PR, by the way before COVID was nine. So I’m fighting with myself to get to that nine. And I think that element of self improvement and trying to improve yourself and keeping on learning and keeping on getting better, that that always does feel quote unquote, like it’s part of my job, because that’s, that’s who I am,

Chacho Valadez 15:24
right. And it really is a journey. Because I mean, in order to get faster and even like shave minutes off your mile time it takes years and years. And like it’s not something that can just be done and like training for a half or something like that. In fact, the answer to the founder journey. Yeah, in

Snigdha Sur 15:43
fact, I actually felt like sometimes, it’s also someone to the vendors anywhere you like, have this big goal, I ran a half marathon last earlier this summer, on a treadmill, because it was COVID. And I remember, I thought I’d have a really fast time. And I realized no, I didn’t have a fast and actually went slower during my house. And I think even my full marathon, and I had to really think deep it was like so disappointed myself and then had to think deeply. And it was like Cinda, you literally just recovered from COVID. Like you’re running on a treadmill with a mask on half marathon like, like you need to be kinder to yourself. And I think that founder journey is very similar, where we sometimes have these big goals, and then we miss it, and then we start breeding ourselves. But sometimes there’s a lot going on. And you can only like not only but you have to be a little bit kinder on yourself that you just tried, which is important to

Chacho Valadez 16:27
totally Yeah, I know, I had said earlier this year, I was training for an ultra marathon. And like I was in week 10 or 12, or 10 or 11 of the 16 week training and I went on a really long 22 mile run. And I had I ran into some really bad runners got towards the end wears like super nauseous really got a bunch of stomach cramps and all this stuff. And like I was like curled over I laid on my porch. And like the pain from that was like so much longer than the actual run. And and I had to like I had to stop training because I’m like, I have to figure this out. Because I can’t I I felt like maybe I was trying to do too much too quickly. And I think there’s oftentimes where even in work, like we can have these great aspirational goals. But sometimes it just takes you almost have to like earn some of these accomplishments before you get there.

Snigdha Sur 17:27
Did you figure it out? Like what ended up happening when I think

Chacho Valadez 17:30
it’s just that I need to build a stronger base and foundation. So that way, I’m not out there for so long, just because I’m not that fast right now. And so I think I was out there for like three hours and 45 minutes. And and so I think that if I was if I’m able to get by mile time down over that period of time, it’ll really help because then I won’t be moving as much. But I still need to figure out the nutrition piece, which is what I’m working on as well. And so trying to figure out like what sits well with my stomach, what doesn’t and, and you know, getting the calories in and all that stuff. And so yeah, it’s I’m trying to like to do the math in my head as I’m running. And like, did I drink enough for this drink or what have you.

Snigdha Sur 18:14
I mean, that can be so scary, because I remember I did one of my longest runs when I was training for the marathon. And I think it was only 16 Miles like I was tapering down or something. And by the end of it, I swear I thought I had enough electrolytes, but you never it’s like a scientific formula. Like you said, you can never account for the humidity outside or the weather outside and how that messes with you. So something that worked even the day before might not work that day. And I remember finishing my run and almost was going to faint and think thankfully, there was just a whole foods right in front of me. So I went in quickly grabbed like I think coconut water and try to drink as much of it as possible. But even going home, I couldn’t even stand I literally was like, awkwardly on the subway station like squatting and people are staring at me. They’re like you Okay, and I’m like, I just can’t stand just like leave me alone for a second. And it’s kind of Yeah, you go through some of those scary moments. And it’s yeah, it’s so important. Like running is a great like, reflection of what your body is going through.

Chacho Valadez 19:10
Absolutely, yes. And that was the first time to I got like, after the trading I told my wife like I don’t know if I can go through with this anymore. And I emotional and like it was a whole roller coaster of emotions. What do people misunderstand the most about running? In your opinion?

Snigdha Sur 19:28
Yeah, I think I think one of the things people misunderstand the most and something that I actually misunderstood, is that running is so much about doing it on your own terms. And I think that like for me, I’m I’m never the fastest runner. I realized among my cohort of friends I’m usually the one that the most endurance like I’m the kind of person who like, even though like when I ran the marathon I actually had a really bad like, like five freezes so like I couldn’t physically like run anymore after mile 16 Like, my thighs just froze. My legs froze. I had to go to the metal time a couple of times. And I walked for a mile to try to like walk it off. And I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna try running after this, even though it hurts a little bit as I run and see what happens. And what I realized is that even what you were saying, like a lot of my friends, they did the marathon like probably an hour faster than me or two hours faster than me. And I was just happy that I finished it. And I think that I had a friend who couldn’t finish it either. And I was happy for her that she even enlisted, like, and like not enlisted, even registered. And so I think that the biggest misconception is, oh, and this goes back to the tech type A personality is like, oh, like, if I register for a marathon, or if I start running, I got to be the best at running. And I still keep saying you’re running this race against yourself like this is really about you and your own self discovery. And don’t be so hard on yourself. And I think I think I understood that really well, because of starting on the cross country team starting as a newest member of the cross country team as a walk on, I had to go from the bottom to figure out how to get to the top. And I didn’t never got to the top. But I got to the point where my fellow teammates respected the hell out of me, because they’re like, you’re this girl that walked on you like, I would spend a lot of time at practice, I would always show up to practice, I would always show up to the races. And that dedicated taught me a lot of dedication, and being okay, with not always being the fastest. So I don’t know if that helps at all for future folks who are considering getting into running, but you don’t have to be the fastest you have to just set your own journey on your own terms, basically.

Chacho Valadez 21:25
Yeah, definitely helps. And that’s something that I’ve had to reconcile as well. And I’ve actually learned that you actually, when you run slower over long periods of time, you actually get faster, which is kind of counterintuitive, but once I found out that secret, I’m like, Okay, I’m just gonna go slow. It’s okay. And I’ve gotten faster. So that’s been helpful.

Snigdha Sur 21:46
I have one more weird misconception. Okay, let’s hear it. Yes, like, gross. But one of the things if you do not know this, if you have a partner, friend who does a lot of running, you start losing toenails. And my first hole toenail I lost, I freaked the hell out. I like my dad’s a doctor. I call it my dad. I was like, Dad, I’m dying, like, I’m losing my toenails. And he was like, actually, they regrow and I was like, I was like, You’re kidding. There’s no way this is gonna regrow. He’s like, no, no, they regrow. I was like, No way. I was like, I’ll believe it when it happens. And sure enough, it took several months, but my toenails did regrow. And so it’s quite disgusting. But that was a misconception I definitely had as a new writer when I was like, right. Yeah. So there you have it. The human body is quite a resilient thing.

Chacho Valadez 22:35
Absolutely. And I had seen that, so I’m prepared. I don’t know if my wife is. It’s, it’s, I’ve been told her she Yeah. So if you had to listen to one song on repeat for an hour long run, what would the song be?

Snigdha Sur 22:51
Oh, what a great question. Okay, I’m gonna still answer it with two answers in a good way. So I think sounds great. Not in a good way. Okay, if I’m doing like an intense run one where I need to, like maintain up Brooks speed. It’s probably for minor like remember the name? I don’t know if you know,

Chacho Valadez 23:06
yeah. Such a great song. Like, High School.

Snigdha Sur 23:11
Exactly. And it has like that tempo like makes you go like, yeah, I can do this harder, faster, better like, and then if it felt slower run that like, it’s like a low intensity steady state. I usually listen to Bollywood, because they have usually like the more soulful, some of the songs are more soulful and slower. So there’s one song called Hard Jaya from this movie called queen. And it’s very slow bill and it has this crescendo, but I can listen to it over and over again. So I would say, if it’s an intense brisk pace, I’ll go for remember, remember the name for it minor. If it’s a slower pace, I’ll go with her Jaya from Queen.

Chacho Valadez 23:47
Love it. That’s awesome. I’m going to listen to for minor after this recording. So second to last question here. What is your favorite thing about yourself? And why?

Snigdha Sur 23:59
Oh, man, what a deep question. I think my favorite thing about myself is I usually never give up and I try to see the positive in everything. And I’m also a very direct person. And, and it was something that it was hard for me to understand when I was younger, but I usually say what I mean, I usually say what’s in you know, I’m thinking, and sometimes that gets me in trouble. Like, I’ve had friendships where they’re like, You didn’t need to say that out loud. And I’m like, okay, but I prefer it to, you know, thinking things about somebody or thinking things about a situation never seeing it. Even in you know, as a founder, when I fundraise. If I have a bad experience with a VC, I usually tell them at the end of it, not because the smart thing to do, but it’s fine, I would say is like don’t say anything at all. But what I’m trying to hopefully change is the system and you know this you’re part of backstage capital, which means that like, sometimes I do see bias in the process. And I’ll tell VC, I’ll be like, by the way, this is how we experience the process. And obviously like I don’t intend for you to take everything I’m saying and make changes immediately. But if in any way this can help future processes you have with other founders of color or other female founders. If and I think if I can be helpful at all, that’s great. And if you hate me after that, that’s fine. Like I get it like, it’s okay. And so, yeah, I would say, I never give up. I keep on trying. And maybe I’m, I’m direct and maybe like, then maybe don’t. So.

Chacho Valadez 25:25
I love that. Yes, that’s so awesome. Thanks for sharing, and B for being vulnerable there. Where can people follow you along your journey?

Snigdha Sur 25:34
I’m now more on Twitter than I was on Instagram, which is, which is really hard for me to say, but some of my editors were like, You should probably be on Twitter more. So I’m I have a very SEO optimized name as a joke. So you can just find me and my full names think this or SI G DHA ser, on Instagram on Twitter on probably my website everywhere. And if you want to follow the Juggernaut that’s a little bit less SEO optimized, but it is pretty SEO optimized. But in terms of the handles, it’s underscored the Juggernaut th e jugg, er ne t on Instagram, which is our power channel. And if you want to give us some love on Twitter, it’s be the juggernaut. So check us out there.

Chacho Valadez 26:11
Thanks so much. And thanks for joining, make sure to follow along. And yeah, not to have you back after maybe after you run a race or something.

Snigdha Sur 26:19
I know. Oh, gosh, I think do I sign up for this January thing? It’s I’m still torn about it. Maybe?

Chacho Valadez 26:26
I don’t know. Someone asked me to run the Oakland marathon it in March or April. And I’m like, I don’t know. It’s the winner in Michigan. So probably.

Snigdha Sur 26:38
It’s too soon. It’s too soon. I’m glad you and I are on the same page about needing some words that are alive. Right.

Chacho Valadez 26:43
Exactly. Yep. Well, thanks so much, Nick. That and yeah, really appreciate it.

Snigdha Sur 26:47
Yeah. Thanks for having me. Keep going. Keep running.

Chacho Valadez 26:50
Yes, keep going and running. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I really hope you enjoyed it. If you have a chance, please leave us a review and let us know what you liked about the show. And if you want to follow along with the episodes, go to your favorite podcast platform and hit the subscribe button. Or you can also go to running in public.co. While we’ll be updating the website regularly, I’ll catch you on the flippety flip.