By Jim Sullivan
---- — Heading towards his current position as President and CEO of the Institution for Savings three years ago, Mike Jones kept hearing a familiar refrain.
"Whenever I was coming toward that CEO track, people used to say; 'You're never going to make it to the CEO track if you're not a golfer.'” says Jones. “And what is interesting is that we have quite a few marathoners on our Board of Trustees. We actually have more marathon runners than we do golfers."
Lucky for Jones, he is an avid marathoner himself and is prepping for his first Boston Marathon as part of a comeback tour.
"I'm hoping to do something right around 3:20," Jones says of Boston. "But within the next two years I hope to be somewhere within that 3:10 range. Maybe it will be 3:25."
Jones has run most of his life and has always enjoyed long distance. But he had to put a halt to his marathon running in 2002 when he and his wife, Linda had four kids in four years. At that point he figured he’d take 10 years off but he was back at it in December of 2011 when he headed down to South Carolina for the Kiawah Island Marathon where he finished a personal best of 3:17:23 and qualified for Boston. From there he went on to Miami in January 2012, Virginia in March, Vermont in May, Falmouth in October, North Carolina in November and he ran the Melbourne Marathon in Florida this past February.
"I think that marathoning is a sport in and of itself," says Jones. "And until you are actually doing one, you just have no idea what to expect. From how you feel when that gun goes off, to how you feel 20 miles in, it's anybody's guess."
Jones tries to run about 50 miles a week to prepare for his marathoning, sometimes starting at the Institution’s Ipswich branch and ending at his office on State St. in Newburyport. Jones says the interesting days are when he makes it a 22-mile round trip.
"My older daughter thinks I'm crazy," laughs Jones of his 11-year-old. "She just doesn't understand at all how you can run for that long for that period of time."
The running lifestyle has also translated well at the bank which has instituted a wellness program which reimburses employees for gym memberships and pays for fitness classes onsite and at local gyms.
"I see great similarities between Mike at work and Mike the marathoner," says the Institution's Vice President of Communications Mary Anne Clancy. "He says things and he just gets them done. Every year at our employee meeting for the last three years he said to us; 'Next year we're going to exceed earnings. We're going to break records.' And for the last three years, we've done that."
The Institution also runs wellness competitions for its employees and is currently in its fifth year on the Boston Globe's top 100 Places to work in Massachusetts list.
"It's giving people the time to do the things that they want to do but yet trying to come up with ideas to help them, " Jones says of what makes the Institution such a good place to work. "For instance, if people like to go hiking we try to encourage them. We try to get out for the weekend and hike up one of the mountains in New Hampshire. Overall what I like to see is the teamwork and people coming in and saying; 'I lost five pounds over the last week. I entered this race and it was great.'"
Jones says that running helps him get through the long hours at work and the heavier responsibilities at home. He also says he welcomes Heartbreak Hill on Patriot’s Day and is looking forward to the challenge.
"Boston is different than any other marathon in terms of when they want you there and when you start the race," says Jones. "You are there at seven in the morning and the race starts at ten. And by the time I cross, it's may be 10:15. I'm in the first wave but that wave has about 10,000 runners in it. That's going to be different from any other marathon that I have run where you normally get to the start from your hotel and you just go."