diaries of a marathon junkie

brian marathon junkie
When not running marathons, Brian can be found enjoying the scenery in Banff.

My name is Brian, and I am addicted to marathons.

While it may seem crazy, the 26.2-mile running tradition of the marathon has taken over my life, taking me from a largely inactive lifestyle to not being able to go a full day without training or planning for my next race.

I started running as a way to keep fit and meet new people, joining a small Learn to Run group. Over several weeks, we supported each other as we struggled to build up to our first 10km races.  I couldn't imagine attempting twice that distance, let alone a marathon, but the sense of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line was infectious.

My group and I continued to run together after our springtime 10km, and on my 19th birthday, I completed my first half-marathon. As painful as that first 21.1km was, it was the best birthday present I could have given myself.

From there, I was asked to join a small group of older guys on their Sunday morning long runs. I ran with my new friend John and others each week that winter, struggling to keep up with them while listening to their inspiring stories. They gave me enough courage to toe the line at the annual Around the Bay 30k Road Race in Hamilton. Somehow, a couple of great race representatives convinced me to register for a spring marathon while at the run expo. That meant six more weeks of training before I would attempt the great distance of 26.2 miles. I was scared.

brian marathon junkie
Running the Boston Marathon in 2008.

On race day, I had one goal: to finish. And thanks to some smart training, I did finish and felt relatively good. (In distance running, things start to be described in relative terms, once you discover that it could always be worse.) Looking back, that is the point where I actually started to enjoy running just for the sake of running.

Finding yoga brought my running up to a much higher level, and my addiction began to take shape. First it was a couple of races each year, then it was four, and finally, in 2008 I completed eight marathons. So what could I do next? How about running the Great Wall Marathon in China? Yes, by now, you can officially call me crazy. It was a humbling experience but I was fortunate to meet many incredible and inspiring people from all over the world. Only eight days after the Great Wall, I offered to pace my old running pal, John, in the Ottawa marathon where he would set a new personal best. After all his help early on with my running, it made me so happy to be able to help John.

Meeting Simon Whitfield after placing 11th overall in the Road 2 Hope Marathon in Hamilton.

Being a part of lululemon has pushed me even further to set some really daring BHAGs, such as running a marathon barefoot, or completing a 100 mile race in less than 24 hours. It has also given me the opportunity to guide beginner runners through those tough times leading up to their first race.

Now, after completing twenty-four marathons and three 50k's, I have come to realize that for me, it's a lot more than just running, it's about the people you meet and the relationships you create. I no longer sign up for a race to run a fast time, but to meet incredible people and share the experience with those I have bonded with during countless hours of training.

brian disney characters

From the Disney Marathon, just over a month ago!

It blows me away to see where running has brought me in only six short years, and I can only wonder where it will take me in the future if I keep on setting the bar ever higher.

Do you have an addiction to running? Zumba? Pilates? How has it shaped you as a person? Let us know!

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Wow, your marathon running is amazing! Very inspiring indeed.
And well, you had to mention Zumba, so I have to comment. haha. I LOVE Zumba…I’ve been going twice a week for a year – and for me that’s pretty darn good! Normally I get bored with something and have to move on. But with Zumba it’s always a good time, and even on the days when it’s freezing and snowing and I just don’t want to go, I always feel great afterwards.

Comment by elliebelle — February 25, 2010 @ 11:55 am

“Now, it used to be I ran to get where I was going. I never thought it would take me anywhere.”

–Forest Gump

Comment by Erik — February 25, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

Very inspirational, Brian. Thanks. :)

Comment by Dianne — February 25, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

I’ve also just started incorporating CrossFit into my weekly training. It is an awesome workout. I just recently tried a Hoop Dance class which is a ton of fun too.

Comment by Brian — February 25, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

On behalf of all the older Sunday morning guys, it has always been fun running with you Brian. Stay positive and enjoy all the good karma that comes from doing something that you truly love. – John

Comment by John — February 25, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

That was awesome to read! I am also very inspired. Thank you for mentioning Pilates! I am truly a Pilates addict. I started Pilates at first by just doing it once a week as dance conditioning in school, then when my teacher moved from her ballet (and Pilates) job at my school, I followed her to a fabulous studio that I can easily now call my home studio. When she started teaching I started with one group class per week, by 2 months it turned into 2 classes a week and not much longer it became 3 times a week, and when she left to run her own place I quickly adjusted my schedule to fit twice a week at my ‘home’ studio and once at her studio, and not very long ago I recently I decided that 3 times a week was not enough for me, it then became 4 times a week. I am quite young for doing this so quickly but with the inspiration of the adults of my home studio as well as my three teachers, I believe that I can do anything and the best part is they have invested faith in me too. Its great to have such a fabulous outlet, such as Pilates, for any one’s energy whether they’ve had a the greatest day ever or not one in their favor. Pilates has helped me achieve ultimate focus, noticed by my Ballet and Contemporary dance teachers and my peers. I might only be 2 years into it, but I know this will last me my lifetime. There is nothing else that I’ve ever been so driven to be dedicated to all my life. My goal for this year is to be simultaneously be ‘addicted’ to Pilates and Running by this time next year!

Comment by MaryMorgan — February 25, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

what a great post brian – so inspiring! i can’t wait to read about a future post about your adventures running a barefoot marathon.

Comment by Marisa — February 25, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

Hey Brian!

Western Tri Club represent! Great jersey, great times!

Comment by Vilija — March 1, 2010 @ 11:00 am

I’ll have to wait for the snow to melt to start training for the barefoot marathon, but I did 40 miles on the treadmill to raise money for Cops for Cancer last Saturday.

Comment by Brian — March 1, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

Congrats Brian on the Goofy in January! I was doing the same race! Love your lulu hat :)

Comment by Karrie — March 1, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

This is such an inspirational read! And I have wondered what next after completing a goal. I’m running in my first 1/2 marathon at the end of this month and wonder if a full marathon is just around the corner. And because you say that yoga helped your running, I may just sign up tomorrow! Thanks Brian!!

Comment by LeAnn — March 1, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

Loved reading about you, running is a real passion of mine aswell..I was drawn into reading your post when I saw you on top of the mountain in banff and that you were from london :D I went to banff this summer and climbed up a couple mountains – tunnel and sulfur. Banff is so far my favourite place I have ever been.

Hope to read more about your runs and good luck with everything!!

Comment by Alana — March 1, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

Wow! Your blog has inspired me so much! This fall I did my very first half marathon and, like you, fell in love with running. Enthusiastically, I immediately started planning my next races, and just one month into training fractured my ankle while playing volleyball. My injury has been pretty devastating to me mentally because for the first time in a long time I’ve been physically incapable of doing anything. Your blog makes me feel like I can make a strong comeback. It also makes me realize that I should never take my workouts for granted again, because I’ll always have the memory of not being able to be active.

Comment by thr — March 1, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

Thanks so much for the great comments. The main thing that keeps me wanting to do more now is being able to meet so many great people through running. Just as inspiring as the ultra runners are the people who are taking the courageous first steps towards your first race. My dream is to bring more yoga into running and help people achieve their own goals. As much as running seems like the main topic, there is something deeper that we touch, which pulls us in. The running is merely a tool to get there.

Comment by Brian — March 2, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

I will started in two weeks in classical marathon in Athens.It will be my firts marathon. I see, you have belt for batons and water. I think about this belt, but it`s not too big weight?

Comment by Sztuka Uwodzenia — October 19, 2010 @ 12:39 am

Hi Sztuka,

That’s great that you’ll be doing your first marathon! The belt shouldn’t be too heavy. It’s designed to hold your water bottles while you run and still be comfortable.

Good luck, and have a great time!

GEC Online Community

Comment by GEC Online Community — October 19, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

I just started my Salsa classes in Toronto at http://www.dancesalsaintoronto.com I would like to get into running too. But I think it will take me a while before I can work myself up to a Marathon! Reading your blog has been really inspirational for me to start running. Keep up the good work.


Comment by Liz Hanson — January 14, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

I don’t run but I renewed with yoga this morning. It feels so good to exercise.

Comment by Roger — January 31, 2011 @ 11:24 am

That’s awesome Brian!! Keep running man. Nothing can match it. We’re running the 4 Deserts Grand Slam this year as part of our challenge for http://www.borntorun.com.au, but I thought you might be interested by the story of a friend who is doing her 100th (!!!) marathon this weekend. Cheers for your lovely story. http://hokaoneoneaustralia.com/2012/09/14/congratulations-jane-trumper-100-marathons-this-sunday/

Comment by Roger — September 13, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

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