I’m a Competitor: CLIF Bar CEO Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary aims for at least 10 hours of workout time a week. Photo: CLIF Bar

The 48-year-old balances family and work life with training for endurance sports.

As CEO of CLIF Bar & Company, Kevin Cleary exemplifies the “work hard, play hard” motto. The 48-year old from Novato, Calif., can regularly be seen riding his bike to work or heading out for a mid-day run, all while overseeing the company’s day-to-day operations, inspiring employees to follow their passions, managing 17 product lines and sampling the latest creations. During his “down time,” he runs marathons (finishing in 4:04:38 at Boston in 2014) and competes in triathlons.

What role does running play in your life?

I started running when I was 5 or 6. And now when I watch my kids I realize all they do is run, it’s natural. I ran in junior high school and high school. I ran the 100, 200, 4×100 relay and played football. I played football in college too, but lost running when I started working. I picked it up again when I was 27 or 28 and realized it was a gift to be able to run. I rededicated my self to it and haven’t stopped.

How do you balance fitness and work?

As the father of three young boys (6-year old twins and a 4-year old), I use work as an avenue to get my workouts in. I’ve done that throughout my career. I feel like I’m not part of the culture if I don’t. The other day I went on a 6-mile run and then went to a meeting in my workout clothes—it’s OK, and I try to set that example.

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Why is fitness and physical activity integral to the company?

Happy people make happy employees. I know I’m more happy and effective when I’m active and I want that for our staff. We have a full gym at the office, offer 30 fitness classes a week and even have paid workout time. This summer, company founders Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford organized a weeklong backpacking trip for the staff. About 20 people signed up to go and they’ve all trained together. Staying active is a common goal of everyone at our company.

Do you have a training schedule?

I sit down on Sunday and map out my workouts for the week. I put the workouts on my calendar and really manage them like they are meetings. I’ve been using an Excel spreadsheet to track workouts for the past 15 years. I probably have 6,000 to 7,000 lines of entries at this point—and now that I say that out loud, it sounds like a lot! I include my weight, overall health and what I did. I can go back and see how I trained for other events or how my performance has changed.

More About Kevin

Favorite Run
I love doing the out-and-back run to Arch Rock at Point Reyes National Seashore. The mountains roll right into the ocean and there are gorgeous views.

Smart Fueling
Right now I’m into our new Sierra Trail Mix bar. That thing is awesome!

Go Gear
Capo socks are my favorite—they grip my feet and I love it. Socks are such a key component.

Weekly Workouts
I run three to four days a week, bike three days a week and lift a couple of days, but the lifting can be hit or miss. My goal is 10+ hours a week of training.

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