My guest today hasn’t done an official race that is shorter than a marathon.
There is no doubt that when he commits to a goal, he goes all in.
I am looking forward to seeing where this conversation takes us as I go a few easy miles with Paul Cleveringa.
Embraces a Challenge
As mentioned in the intro, Paul Cleveringa hasn’t run a race that is less than a marathon.
He enjoys the mental challenge and the suffering that go hand in hand with endurance events.
If forced to choose, Paul would pick distance over speed every time.
Paul is the type of person that dives headfirst into things.
He grew up playing soccer but hated to run.
As an adult, sports and activity took a backseat to other priorities at the time.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the pandemic that Paul began to take an interest in running.
Mental and Physical Benefits
When the pandemic first began, Paul was feeling down and a bit lost.
He knew that he needed something new to challenge himself with.
Paul came across videos of David Goggins and was inspired.
He was living in Chicago at the time and began to run almost daily.
Paul hated running at first, but it didn’t take long for him to begin to see the mental and physical benefits.
Like most runners, Paul ran too hard at first but then began to learn more about basic training principles.
Running became a tool for Paul to escape his mind.
More Fun With a Friend
Paul moved to Washington D.C. for a job and to resume school.
A friend who was in the area suggested training for and running a marathon in Richmond, Virginia.
Paul had never run long distances, but nonetheless, he immediately agreed to sign up.
With an online program to guide them, Paul and his friend completed all the training and got to the start line healthy.
Looking back on his first marathon, it was the hardest thing he had done up till that point in his life.
Paul loved the feeling of going far and knew that he wanted to see how much further he could go in the future.
His immediate goal after the marathon was to start training for a full Ironman Triathlon.
Managing His Time
Training for an Ironman is no small undertaking and requires a large time commitment.
Paul realized very early on in training that he had to manage his time appropriately.
He had to make a lot of sacrifices in his daily life to be able to train the way he wanted.
Training for an Ironman built up his aerobic capacity in a way running alone never did.
Paul completed his first, and only, Ironman in April of 2023.
The marathon at the end of an Ironman is similar in some ways and quite different in others to a stand-alone race.
Paul is unsure if he will ever do another Ironman, because of the expenses along with the logistics involved.
He still incorporates swimming and biking as cross-training.
Paul completed his first 50k in November of 2022.
The idea to complete a 50k came on a whim and was a solo venture.
He planned to run a 4-mile loop in Chicago until he reached the 50k distance.
The weather was bitterly cold and he hurt his hip flexor while running, but he still managed to complete the distance.
His first official ultra marathon was a 52-mile race that took place in Virginia in June of 2023.
The race started at 6 p.m., which posed some extra challenges.
Paul completed the last 10 miles of the race with a few others and they helped push each other to the finish.
That race was one of the hardest things he has ever done, but the positives far outweighed the negatives.
We Are What We Think
Along with his full-time job, Paul is also a running coach.
He is relatively new to coaching and is constantly gaining experience.
Paul has found that he learns just as much from his clients as they do from him.
For both himself and his athletes, Paul believes in running by effort and running easy when called for.
The physical benefits running provides are often what people focus on the most.
Paul feels he has gained more mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits from running than just physical.
Running has taught him to be more present in the moment and to look inward to learn about oneself.
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