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Dr. Dina Kulik’s Path to Running: Uncovering the Marathon Journey

Dr. Dina Kulik's Path to Running Run Tri Bike Magazine How It All Started
Dr Dina Kulik
Year started: 2019
Next race: May 5, 2024 / Toronto Marathon / Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Favorite gear:
  • Nike AlphaFly
  • Naked Run Belt
  • 2XU Compression Shorts and Pants
  • Enell Running Bra

Dr. Dina Kulik’s path to running, particularly marathon running, began with a single challenge. Initially a cyclist and gym enthusiast, Dina’s introduction to running was unplanned yet would lead to a lifetime of running. During a family trip to Jamaica, faced with broken gym equipment and a need for physical activity, she reluctantly joined her husband for a beach run. What started as a six-kilometer run quickly evolved into an undeniable passion. Reflecting on that moment, Dina shares, “It was just instant love. I don’t know why I hated it ten years previous, but I loved it.” Her story not only inspires seasoned athletes but also serves as a guiding light for beginners stepping into the world of endurance sports.

Overcoming Obstacles: From Injury to Resilience

Dina’s marathon journey wasn’t without hurdles. Upon returning home from that trip to Jamaica in February 2019, she had the idea of running the Toronto Marathon in October. With a short time frame, going from nothing to 42km was going to be an undertaking. Dr Kulik started her training in earnest. In those 8 months, she ran nearly 2,000km which eventually caught up to her.

About 3 weeks prior to the Toronto Marathon, Dina felt a lot of pain in her hip on the right side of her body. The initial thought was that it was tendonitis, something that runners will experience. She proceeded to start the event and within 5km of the start the pain became excruciating. She ignored it and made it to the finish line where she wound up not being able to walk.

After a few weeks of being in pain post-race, she discovered she had a serious injury. An MRI revealed that she had a broken femur and would require surgery. Despite the setback, her determination never wavered. Despite 18 months of rehab running was never put on the shelf. “It didn’t dissuade me from stopping running,” Dina recalls.


Embracing Family and Coaching Support

Central to Dina’s success is the unwavering support of her family, particularly her husband, Andrew, an experienced marathoner. They run together, participate in races with their children, and share a passion for an active lifestyle. Dina emphasizes the importance of family bonding through running, stating, “I love running with my family… it’s fantastic from a relationship perspective and a bonding perspective.”

Additionally, working with her coach Phaedra (PK) has refined her training, guiding her towards smarter and more effective workouts. “Operation Don’t Get Hurt” has become Dina’s mantra, emphasizing longevity and enjoyment in her running journey. This pivot has also led Dr Kulik to recognize that when pain shows up she can talk to her coach and be proactive with recovery versus pushing through which can potentially lead to another injury.

Advice for Aspiring Runners

Reflecting on her experience, Dina offers invaluable advice to those embarking on their own running journeys. She advocates for starting slow, building habits gradually, and setting realistic goals. “Don’t go into these impulsive goals right away,” she advises, highlighting the importance of patience and mindful progression. Integrating running into social activities and seeking professional guidance, as she did with her coach, can also enhance the experience and ensure sustainable growth.

During the conversation, Dina discussed her own goal of running the 6 World Majors. By the end of 2024, she will have reached the finish line of 3 of the events. When asked about the other 3, the idea of patience shows up. Dina mentions that it may take her 5 or more years to qualify for the Boston Marathon but it doesn’t discourage her. Getting back to being healthy has given her an appreciation for knowing that being smart is better than being in a hurry.

Looking Ahead: Goals and Aspirations

As Dina continues to pursue her marathon goals her mindset remains focused yet flexible. She prioritizes long-term sustainability, recognizing the balance between ambition and injury prevention. “I’m one injury away from not being able to run anymore,” she acknowledges, underscoring the need for careful planning and self-awareness in the pursuit of endurance achievements.

Dr. Dina Kulik’s path to running serves as inspiration for aspiring runners, highlighting the rewards of perseverance, mindful training, and a love for the journey itself.