PROFILE--Steve Kearney has been running for 57 years

(June 2020) Steve Kearney has been running cheerfully (check out his photos) since the fall of 1963. He's one of the early Midwestern runners, and someone who has stuck close to his roots through the decades, teaching and coaching at the Indiana high school he graduated from himself. Now 71, he has logged over 2000 miles for the last five years, and finished second in his age group (70-74, 1:56:04) in the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon held the day after the Olympic Marathon Trials last February. He lives by a simple but effective mantra: "When everything seems to be going wrong, there is always something you can do to improve the situation.

Career/profession? I spent 44 years teaching and coaching at Chesterton (Indiana) HS, my alma mater.

When did you start running and why? I started in the fall of 1963 as a sophomore after stunning

my PE teacher with a 6:03 mile the previous spring.  I wanted to be in some sport, but was not showing any ability elsewhere.    

How much did you run in your peak years? In college (Ball State) we ran 100 mile weeks most of the time.  I think my max was 138.       

Top performances? I had a marathon best of 2:33 marathon. In 1977, I won the RRCA 50K title in 3:21. In 1990 I was the TAC masters champ for 50K in 3:26.

Any estimate of  your lifetime miles? At least 100,000.

How much are you running and cross-training now? I have been over 2,000 miles the last 5 years.  Not much strength work or stretching, but at least I think about it.

Any recent race results? I ran an Arctic Dash 5K in 24:19, but could only manage 4:42 in the Bayshore Marathon (May, 2019). This seems to indicate that I can handle the cold, not the heat. The day after this year’s Olympic Marathon Trials, I ran 1:56:04 for second in the 70-74 age group in the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? I think it is funny. We have a group of retired guys and a few shift workers that run cross country at our county park Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one weekend day at the Indiana Dunes.  We are all a lot slower, but we love age grading. I also enjoy hanging out with the kids at Junior Olympics meets. When coaching adults for the marathon and half-marathon, I love running in the opposite direction on the track so I can see them twice a lap.  

How have your diet and weight changed through the years? Supplements? My weight went up a pound a year for about 30 years after college. Since then it has stabilized mainly because I figured out you shouldn’t eat all you can eat at all-you-can-eat places. I take hyaluronic acid capsules for arthritis in a hit where a car hit me 30 years ago after running a stop sign. The capsules work quite well for me.

Injuries or health challenges? I broke my ankle in a car wreck at the end of college. I had to take three months off, and was never able to train with the same intensity.

A favorite inspirational quote? I use “Stride On!” to motivate myself in many situations. Sometimes I adjust it to “Strive On!” I also like something Robert Louis Stevenson, which I paraphrase as: “Measure ye not the harvest, but the seeds ye sow.”

Atlanta, Feb, 2020
How does running and fitness improve your daily life?  I am able to achieve more on a daily basis than the average person my age, and am not mentally or physically stressed by doing so. When racing, I don’t race against my performances from years ago, or compare myself to them. I really feel close to the same as I did as a kid when running at my current aerobic edge. And it is a great feeling.


What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Don't worry about things you can't control. When everything seems to be going wrong, there is always something you can do to improve the situation.