Brill’s Lung Run helps others breathe easierMarch 29, 2012
By Noel Paine
I have had days when I desperately need my inhaler. I have asthma. I’m not pinned down on a regular basis by the air-stealing condition but I know the feel of its grip. A runner since I was 12 and at 6′2″ and 155lbs, in excellent running shape, the mere mention of asthma almost kept me from getting into the Canadian Forces.
Asthma is not the topic of this blog, but this blog is about someone who has used running throughout his life to help others. And he currently uses running to raise awareness for people with asthma.
Louis Brill is someone I have had the privilege of knowing for a long time and consider a good friend. He has the lean runner build, short blonde hair and always a smile and laugh. He’s humble and likeable and only after persistent nudging lets you know he once ran 10Ks in the 33-minute range. Louis is a runner, the CEO of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, and a new father, all of which keep him extremely busy. The Lung Association website gives a great description of the CEO as a natural born coach, who leads with a strong emphasis on teamwork and creativity.
I met Louis as a young runner at Chebucto Track and Field Club where he was the young coach of the distance group. Louis has always emphasized that it was not about the times and PBs but the experiences and life lessons running brought about that was important to him, though he did help myself and my teammates achieve a PB or two. A runner-coach relationship later turned into just a great friendship that has lasted many years.
Louis has always been involved in the community — especially the running community. He served the Special Olympics Nova Scotia community for 13 years, retiring as CEO in 2005, served as a member of the successful 2011 Canada Winter Games Site Selection Committee for Halifax and currently is the Chair of Athletics Nova Scotia (this is the short list). Louis says he started running 30-years ago in high school, under the guidance of coach Barry Sullivan, and he continues to run and be involved in the running community. At the start of each New Year, he has also started a tradition at the Halifax Running Club called “Brill’s Grill” when his crew dishes out a gourmet breakfast to over 100 friends from within the running community.
The Lung Run
Louis’s love for the sport has also led to the creation of The Credit Union Atlantic Lung Run 5K and Active with Asthma 1.5 K for Kids started in 2007 as a new community event run by The Lung Association of Nova Scotia and a team of volunteers. This team of people is dedicated to raising awareness of lung disease in Nova Scotia and to promoting a healthy lifestyle through reduction of tobacco use and becoming physically active. While promoting awareness the event also helps raise funds to support programs and services for people affected by lung disease. If on the east coast or in Halifax for a visit, join Louis and the Lung Run on April 14, 2012.
The 2011 Lung run was won in 15:19 with the top female crossing the line in 17:22. I have personally run the course and it’s pancake flat and fast, and as much as it raises money for a great cause, the race is also great for setting a PB. It’s well organized and draws some of the fastest runners from the Maritimes.
Learn to Run for Smokers
Another great program that I personally had the pleasure to help out with during its first year is a program developed by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia. A program was developed to get runners to stop smoking and start running, called “Learn to Run for Smokers“. The program focuses on improving physical fitness, with the aim to complete a 5K distance, either walking or running, at the end of the 8 weeks. There is also an education aspect to the group, where the participants hear about the proper running techniques, the benefits of exercise, nutrition and quitting smoking. The Learn to Run for Smokers Program however does not primarily focus on tobacco cessation, but instead is designed as a behavioural modification style program in which the participants develop a new and healthy habit of running in exchange for smoking.
After some significant telephone tag and a few laughs I managed to get some time in Louis’s busy schedule and ask him a few questions.
What affect has been being a runner had on your work life?
“I guess running has been the constant in my life. It’s about the power of sport I think, what it can do. When I was coaching while we often focused on competition and achieving PBs for the me it was always about more. I was always proud of when my athletes achieved their goals, but I was more proud to see how they learned life lessons and grew from what they gained through sport and competitive running. It’s a thrill to play hard, put your foot on the line and give your all. This competitive desire and other things can be applied outside of sport as well. Sport and music are the international languages that bring people together and I think they can teach us so much. Sport is powerful and I think I learned this early on, and it has influenced and been with me throughout my life.”
What inspired the idea for the Lung Run?
“I was out running along the Halifax waterfront one day and mentioned to those running with me that we had a great spot for a race, a great spot where I could envision a perfect long finishing stretch for a race. Then we made it happen. Just like the Learn to Run for Smokers Program, there was a need, we had a vision and we just did it.”
What are your personal bests and most memorable runs?
“My favourite race is always my last race. Perhaps I have graduated to this philosophy but I don’t so much look in the past anymore and now just enjoy each time I run and have the opportunity to be competitive, race and have a good run. It is about where you are now, it is less about PBs but more about the battle. I still have a desire to run hard when I go to the start line and love a duel to the finish line.”
What are your current running goals?
“Being 48 now, edging up on the end of my 40s I have a desire to end the decade with some PBs for this decade and want to break 39-minutes for the 10K and 18:30 for the 5K. It will take work, but it is going to happen.”
It’s the selfless and heartfelt contributions by runners like Louis that help promote the best parts of the sport — physical and mental. Run on Lou, you make a difference in the Canadian Running community and are appreciated.
Tell me about someone you know or your running story!
See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.