Etcetera_Exhibit1Steve Beard was never much of a runner, but that changed in 2001, when he participated in a 5K fun run on a whim.

Since running in that first short race, Beard, an HFMA member and chief business development officer for State Collection Service Inc. in Madison, Wis., has participated in nationally recognized marathons, such as the Marine Corps, Chicago, Air Force, and the Veterans marathons.

“I saw my wife run and I thought, ‘That would be really good to do,’ but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it,” said Beard, who played baseball and football in school but never ran competitively.

So how does a newly initiated runner transition from fun runs to internationally recognized marathons? For Beard, sticking to a 16-week training regimen by marathon expert Hal Higdon helped get him up to speed. That guidance has been reinforced by participating in a weekly running club.

“We have about 80 people who meet every Saturday and go for runs, but it’s really more of social thing than anything else,” Beard said about the regular runs of up to 20 miles. “There’re running communities almost anywhere you go.”

The benefits of running have included the “unbelievable” finish-line pomp at the annual Marine Corps Marathon. That race famously ends at the dramatic Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., and includes Marines distributing race medals, which has made it one of Beard’s favorite races. 

Running also has given Beard and his wife, Molly, a shared passion. She’s run all 12 marathons with him. This year’s Boston Marathon is the first they will not race together after she was recently injured and unable to qualify.

“Our kids were grown, and we were looking for a sport to enjoy together,” Beard said.

Besides being a fun experience with his wife, Beard also enjoys the challenge of racing. He has focused on improving his four-hour, 10-minute completion time in the 26.2-mile race.

“I’m not very good at it,” Beard said with a laugh about his marathon times.

A cold weather runner, Beard has no problem running through ice and snow, but he avoids running in extreme heat whenever possible. Beard said slowing his pace is usually enough to compensate for difficulty in breathing, especially in cold air. For icy conditions, Beard attaches small grips to his running shoes to maintain his traction. 

“I live in Indiana, so you just face it and dress appropriately,” he said of maintaining his running schedule during the long northern winters.

Beard’s advice for other aspiring marathoners includes allowing time to build up to the challenge, both physically and mentally.

“Anyone can do it if they follow the plan,” Beard said. “You go into it not knowing that you’re going to be able to do it, and then little by little—if you follow the plan—you can do it.”

Publication Date: Wednesday, January 01, 2014

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