Running toward the finish line and beyond

January 30, 2023

Paul Heilbronn runs a half marathon

After two years of dedication, hard work and persistence, Paul Heilbronn MBA ’24, won his first half marathon at the Manhattanite Half Marathon.

“After going to the gym for two years now, I knew I wanted to challenge myself with something I had never done before,” Heilbronn said. “Going into my second year of Quinnipiac, I was looking for races that I could run. I came across the Manhattanite Half Marathon. On September 4, I signed up for my first ever half marathon and my life has changed ever since.”

Heilbronn finished the half marathon first place overall in the 19 and under age group, 10th place in the men’s division and 15th place overall in the race. Before Heilbronn signed up for the marathon, he struggled with staying active and fit.

“Going into junior year of high school I quit cross country, winter track and baseball,” he said. “I found myself dropping out of classes in high school and giving less than 100 percent. When the world shut down during COVID-19, I put on weight, I was the heaviest I had ever been. By the time summer of senior year came around, it was hard to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t go to the beach or the pool because I was afraid to take my shirt off. Fast forward to September 6, 2020, my first day of senior year. I looked at myself in the mirror that day and couldn’t recognize the person I was looking at. I knew a change had to be made.”

The next day on Sept. 7, 2020, Heilbronn started going to the gym and hit 10,000 steps during walks every day. Fast forward two years later, on Sept. 4, 2022, he signed up for the Manhattanite Half Marathon.

As he trained himself, he had to figure out how to best build his physical and mental endurance. Every morning, he would wake up between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. to run before his classes.

“In September and October, the mornings weren’t too cold, but by November I would see that it was 25 degrees and that was an experience for sure,” he said. “I decided not to listen to music, instead, I rotated between 3 main podcasts, the Lex Fridman Podcast, The Tim Ferris Show and Serendipity with Inky Johnson. During the time I had in the morning to run, I was able to hear stories of successful people and implement some of their habits into my own life."

As Heilbronn trained, he also noticed a change in his daily structure. He would go to bed earlier and be more productive with getting work done efficiently, he said. One of his biggest inspirations is David Goggins, an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, public speaker and author who served as a Navy SEAL and held a Guiness World Record for completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. Between listening to Goggins’ podcasts and running every morning, Heilbronn found a training routine to stick to.

After the marathon, he realized he wanted to help motivate others who struggle the same way he did.

“My main motivation is helping someone who may be in the place I was two years ago,” he said. “When I was out of shape, I didn’t eat healthy and didn’t want to hear from other people that I needed to change. It wasn’t until I was inspired by David Goggins that I really started to make major changes for myself. So, for me, I want to push myself to the limits in hopes that it will inspire others to take chances. The hardest step is always the first one, so if I can inspire someone to walk a mile or try something new, then I will feel accomplished.”

The skills Heilbronn learned as he trained carried not only into his athleticism but also life and his business career.

“As a finance major in the 3+1 program, I have been exposed to many different career paths,” he explained. “I have enjoyed connecting with alumni in the field of finance and learning about what they have done to find success. From the insight I have gained from Quinnipiac and its alumni, I plan to work as a financial analyst following graduation. I truly enjoy the challenge and difficulty associated with the stock market and I believe the traits I have gained since the half marathon will allow me to excel through challenges.”

Heilbronn emphasizes the importance of discipline and strength during times of struggle.

“I read a quote from Robert H. Schuller where he said, ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’ That has certainly been a driving force in my determination to compete in the half marathon. During the race that Saturday morning, it was pouring and windy. When I signed up on Sept. 4, 2022, it was 82 degrees and sunny. The morning of the race was almost the exact opposite. I learned that the tough times don’t last, but the ones who make it out will become better on the other side. I’m truly grateful to be given this opportunity and hope that my story will inspire someone like David Goggins inspired me.”

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