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Private Lives: Long-Distance Operator

On the run with Groupe Clarins ceo Philip Shearer.

“You have to want to compete,” says Philip Shearer, Groupe Clarins’ chief executive officer, with a laugh. But don’t let the guffaw fool you: That philosophy shapes all elements of his life, from work to play—not least marathon running.

The 58-year-old Shearer has jogged recreationally for almost three decades, and tackled his first marathon eight years ago. “Everyone tells you you’ve got to run a marathon,” he says. He has since notched up eight marathons and dozens of shorter races.

Shearer jogs for enjoyment, to relax, to be outside and to stay fit. Often, his courses are themed (like around Paris monuments) and altogether, he’s jogged in 42 countries.

For training, Shearer generally clocks 30 to 40 miles and works out with a coach two to three times a week. His fastest time ever is a 6:26 mile, achieved during an 8K race.

“Whenever I can, I do races,” he says, adding his goal is to place in his age group. Shearer’s fastest marathon time so far is three hours and 17 minutes, in Virginia Beach in 2001, while his most enjoyable was the Boston Marathon last May. Hardest was the hot and crowded 2005 New York City Marathon. With cramps himself, Shearer physically supported an ailing fellow runner for the last half mile.

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He values sport for the goals it instills. “Jacques Courtin-Clarins said, ‘Do more, do better and enjoy doing it,’ ” says Shearer, citing Clarins’ founder. “Sport is all about this. You try to push yourself, stay within the limits of what you can do and stay focused. And I think this applies to every day’s work in a company. Now, for luxury brands especially, driving a business is like running a marathon.”

He explains it’s key to train and know how to conserve energy. “You have to think twice before you do something, then you have to know when to push yourself and you have got to choose your battles,” says Shearer. “When you race, you have a strategy—you don’t just go out there to see what’s going to happen, especially in a marathon. If not, you’ll never finish.”