19. Bruce Van Horn on Overcoming Cancer to Running the Boston Marathon

Bruce Van Horn

Have you ever felt as if life has handed you too many problems and felt like you would never be able to break away from the darkness? Perhaps you have lost a child, and understand what it is like to live with heart-wrenching grief, end up with bills that are more than you can deal with, and then have your marriage come to an end. Perhaps you have had cancer and been through the battle, with children depending on you to raise them. Listen on Anchor.

I would like to welcome our guest, Bruce Van Horn from Life Is A Marathon


Bruce tells us that he was referred to as Eeyore because he was a pessimistic down person. He came to a place where he needed to end his life or change his life. He needed to do some radical things and he chose change after healing from Cancer. You can hear the whole audio interview on the Podcast: Here

His brother came to run the Richmond Marathon and Bruce went to watch with his then 7-year-old.  It was boring but over dinner, his older brother told him he should run marathons. He laughed at him!!

At the time, Bruce worked at home, lived in an amazing community and mostly everything he needed was a 5-minute drive away. He never drove 26.2 miles unless going on vacation,  so he couldn’t imagine wanting to run it. He never thought that he would enjoy training for it, and his brother told him something that changed his life,  “The hardest part about running a marathon is making the decision to try it!”

It gnawed at him for a couple of sleepless weeks, and he thought about it. He wasn’t fat but knew he was out of shape and about 20 lbs overweight, so he decided to try to get into shape and joined the YMCA!!!

He set a goal to jog, (not run)  1 mile on a treadmill without walking, and although it was difficult, he made it. (it took him over a month at a couple of days a week.) He didn’t think he could do it and did get frustrated but kept at it!!

The day he did it, something in him snapped.  Less than a week later he ran 2 miles on a treadmill. Then he ran a 5 k in the neighborhood, then a 10 k, and then he heard his brother’s voice again and made the decision to train for a marathon.

Less than a year later, in November of  2006, he ran the Richmond Marathon. (Yeah!!! Insert Cheer)  His brother came back to run with him and he beat his brother, by about 45 minutes !!

Running the marathon changed his life! He was a victim and that guy that talked about all their problems. He had problems and blamed others for them.  He had many problems, finance, relationship, being in a job he didn’t like, an overweight and out of shape problem……but it occurred to him that he didn’t have all these problems….   he only had one problem……..  he had a thinking problem, and attitude problem a negative self-talk problem.

A marathon runner can not run a marathon with any type of self-talk. That is the first thing that needs to change.

He found out that running a marathon is 90% mental and 10% physical. If you get the mind right, the mind will tell the body what to do.


It wasn’t until he changed his thoughts about himself, took 100% responsibility for what happened in his life and changed the thoughts about the stories he told himself, his life was able to change.

People began to ask him questions, he started writing this stuff down, and then someone else asked him to be his life coach, and he ended up becoming a life coach.

We talked a little about running, and I shared my own struggle with thinking and running over 10k, I then asked him to share the story about what he has achieved recently, but first…..

Bruce tells us about the biggest struggle he has had…..and had he faced them prior to his transformation, he would not be here today….he would have committed suicide.

In the last year, he has battled severe cancer and gotten divorced. In February of 2014 Bruce was at the top of his game.  He had just turned 50 and was in the process of writing 3 books, his twitter was crazy with 350,000 followers and his blog was doing great. His coaching career was thriving and life was good.

Then his doctor called him and told him he had advanced prostate cancer. It was stage 4 cancer, and although there were alternative treatment methods, he didn’t really have time for them and had to act now. Bruce shares the story about the whole procedure, which may or may not cause some queasiness and empathy, you can hear the recording of the interview for all the details: Here

A year after his surgery he ran the Boston Marathon!!!

This was a bucket list item for Bruce!! He was able to get a bib for a spot on a charity team thank you to a twitter connection and raised money for charity. It is a goal for him to qualify and run Boston again!!

I asked him for tips for anyone going through cancer surgery in the future. He told us,

#1 Be real with yourself – allow yourself to feel the feelings because what you resist persists

#2 Be aware everything about your reality is ultimately a perception of your reality 

#3 Practice Mindfulness

We really only have right now, all we have is this minute. He had to remind himself not to spend too much time in the past or the future. “The only story you can rewrite is the one that moves us forward.”

He ended up putting his coaching on hold, the books he was writing, and having others help out to meet his boys needs. He ended up writing a different book, the will be coming available soon.