Former Mich. man runs 8 marathons in 9 days: His advice on how to tune in to your run

Physically, it is something he never perceived possible. Even with his 21 years of training and experience as an ultra-marathoner.

At 46-years-old, Brian Tate challenged his body to an amazing feat last month—he wanted to run eight marathons in nine days. Yes, that totals to 209.6 miles in less than two weeks.

Anyone might respond in jaw-dropping awe. And not too much surprises Tate these days with his running, but this time he was shocked.

0501_085730“There is no physical way I can imagine that I could have done that,” he said.

And the kicker? “I felt great (after)—sitting down is usually not fun, getting back up (after a race) is not fun, but I felt great—I can’t explain it,” he said.

He attributes part of his success to training at higher altitudes in Colorado.

He ran for seven days straight, at 26.2 miles each day in Colorado, rested one day then returned to the Mitten to run in the Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon for his final, ninth day Oct. 20.

Formerly from Clawson, Tate and his wife moved to Colorado last spring but keep ties in Mich. and the Detroit Marathon was a way to do that.

But he also did it to raise awareness and funds for Hope Water Project, an organization that installs wells to provide clean water for a community of people known as the Pokot in Kenya. The group advocates that water is the beginning of life transformation from health to education.

So as Tate ran for hours, a special sponsor donated money for each mile he finished. And as he embarked on more marathons during that week, the donor doubled the dollar amount per mile.

The donations started at $0.30 per mile then doubled all the way to $19.20 per mile. By the end of the week, he raised nearly $1,000 for the Project.

“Knowing that money was going to charity, kept me going as well,” Tate said.

Tate also helped other runners train for the marathon on behalf of the organization.

0501_022277Roughly 1,400 participants signed up for the race, 1,198 toed the startling line and less than 10 did not finish, Tate said.

For now, Tate doesn’t know what his future marathon and ultra-marathon plans hold, but he hopes to return for the 2014 Detroit Marathon.

To learn more about Hope Water Project, visit or check out their Facebook page here and Twitter: @HopeWaterProj.

“Running is a great teacher of things in life.”

Looking to learn more on becoming a healthy and successful runner or even marathoner? Tate shares some ideas that he has learned while pounding the pavement over the years.

Prescribing miles: Find a solid base of training

The best piece of advice Tate says he can give regarding marathon prep is to find proper training that progressively increases your running homework each week in miles.

Helping teammates train through the Hope Water Project, “we took people that had never run before, we took them from zero to running a marathon in essentially seven and a half months,” he said, “by the simple progression of training mileage.”

Invite teammates—They hold accountability—Or try running for a cause

Running with a friend or teammate or even an entire group keeps you and others accountable, Tate says.

They will be “making sure you show up,” he says.

But it is also safer than jogging alone, especially as winter months in the Mitten ever-so-sneakily slink closer.

“You should always have a training partner,” Tate said.

And if you are still struggling to get motivated, even after running with a pal, try running for a cause, Tate says.

Just like he does with the Hope Water Project, “Run for more than just running, run for charity, run for someone else,” he said.

Racing for the Project also benefited the runners raising the money, Tate said. “It changed their lives—it got them into healthy habits.”

Run races of shorter distance first

Sign up for races with shorter distances before charging head-on at a marathon, Tate says.

Smaller races like a 5K (or 3.1 miles) and a 10K (6.2 miles) can help get you acquainted with the mental toughness of running a race, he says.

With the holidays right around the corner, lots of communities host short races. Check out for some upcoming events.

Read good running books to get fit mentally

Tate finds that thumbing through some books on running, whether they are new write-ups or classics have helped him incorporate new methods into his marathon training and racing, proving beneficial.

One tip he learned was how to tune in to his body and run through an associative approach, he calls it.

“I pay attention to my breathing, my heart rate, how my legs feel, if I’m having any pains or issues—I try to just read my body as I’m running,” he said.

Most runners or exercisers quickly turn to headphones and iPods to disassociate with what their body is enduring, whether on a long run or weight training in the gym. He recognizes the mood-altering effects of workout music, but Tate chooses the opposite and in turn, becomes ultimately focused on his goal.

After running the Chicago Marathon recently, Tate learned how in-tune he is to the race, forgetting his surroundings at times.

“I was so focused on the race that when I saw the race pictures of me (running through Chinatown) after-the-fact, I realized I never saw Chinatown. I was so focused on what I was doing—on my breathing, on my heart rate, on my muscles, everything—I never once looked at what I was running through,” he said.

One of the books found in his repertoire is the “Ultra Marathon Man” by Dean Karnazes.

“The book opened my eyes to the somewhat underground world of ultra-distance running (defined as any running longer than a marathon). Since then, I have challenged myself with long distance events and personal crazy ideas,” he said.

You will find that healthy habits echo in daily life

Many of the habits runners learn for training can prove healthy in daily life, Tate says.

“Running is a great teacher of things in life,” he said.

A few skills you might boost through marathon training include time management, setting goals and proper planning and preparation, as well as attaining clear mindedness and a healthy way for stress alleviation, he says.

Don’t forget to fortify your food intake for fuel

When running, it is extremely important to repair your body, Tate says and the best way to do that is to simply chow down. During training, he eats a lot of protein and carbohydrates from protein bars, steaks, burgers, chicken to Gatorade, peanut butter sandwiches, Fig Newtons and even pizza.

“If I wasn’t running or sleeping, I was eating, even while I was working,” he said.

Sources of inspiration abound

To stay mentally tough during training and throughout the marathon, Tate turns to affirmations and prayers.

He lets us in on how his buddy revitalized him through a caring message via social media, fueling the runner mentally for the rest of his monumental marathon-filled week.

“It was so powerful, it changed the whole trajectory of my week—from that point forward, I can’t say it was easy, but my resolve to finish seven marathons in seven days was to live by that prayer.”

Here is a screenshot of that message, with his permission:

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Another popular source of inspiration that marathoners look forward to is the assortment of humorous, albeit encouraging, race signs spectators and family members sport on the sidelines.

So here is a compilation of some entertaining runner signs we came across this week. We hope you enjoy them!

If you have a great idea for a race sign, share it with us and we’ll add it to our slideshow!

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About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at

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