about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    What’s Cooking?

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    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



You Don’t Have to Run a Marathon.

A few years ago, I pulled my head out of the sand and started paying attention to my health and nutrition, and found that life was suddenly much better for me.  With a new found love for nutrition and success stories, I found myself totally fascinated by the hit TV series, The Biggest Loser.  These people were literally changing their lives pound by pound, and in many cases saving their lives as well.

About 6 months after I started running marathons myself, the Biggest Loser introduced a new concept to their season finale episode.  Contestants were surprised at home with a video tape from the trainers, informing them that in 30 days they would be running the “Biggest Loser Marathon” – 26.2 miles down a California highway.

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You would think that this collision of two of my favorite things – marathons and weight loss success stories – would have me jumping for joy.  But it’s actually quite the contrary.  Last night, as I watched the contestants gearing up for the race, four seasons since the inaugural marathon, I couldn’t help contain the way I really feel…

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And somewhat to my surprise, my muttering prompted a LOT of responses – some in agreement, and others questioning why exactly I felt that way.  In 140 characters, I summed it up as…

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I know that Biggest Loser contestants are working out for hours and hours each day, and many of them are able to run quite well by the season’s end.  But physical fitness is not enough to prepare anyone for the toll that 26.2 miles will take on the body.  There is a reason that most marathon plans range from 12 to 16 weeks:  that’s how long it takes to (safely) get ready.  In my opinion, having contestants “train” for four weeks to run 26.2 miles is both unrealistic and irresponsible.

But let’s just say for argument’s sake that the contestants ARE physically ready to cross the starting line on marathon day.  Every season, some contestants focus on training for the marathon itself, while others simply continue to do the gym training that they were taught on the Biggest Loser Ranch.  For four seasons in a row now, the contestant who has run the fastest marathon has also lost less weight than the players who ran slower, or even walked.  Previous winners of the $250,000 prize – Helen (5:49:09), Danny (6:55:00), and Michael (6:26:00) – have been some of the last to cross the finish line. 

That is because you are not supposed to run marathons for weight loss.  In fact many people gain weight during marathon training.  To propose that these individuals on a mission to lose large amounts of weight (with with winner earning a hefty monetary prize), should at the same time prepare to put the body through a 26.2 mile feat, is such a huge contradiction that it makes my blood boil.  I feel like the contestants are subconsciously forced to choose between money and health, which goes against the entire point of the show.

But believe it or not, that is still not my biggest gripe about the Biggest Loser marathon.  I feel that forcing the contestants to tackle the long mileage gives the average viewer the impression that in order to be healthy, you have to run a marathon.  And that is just simply SO not true.

I am the first to admit it – running marathons makes me happy.  It makes me feel alive, and I crave the satisfaction I get from long runs.  To date, I have run 5 full marathons (but trained for 6), and someday I hope to be able to say I’ve run twenty. 

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I get emails from readers all the time that say things like “I can’t run nearly as far as you” or “so far I’ve only ever run a 10K” – and every time my heart breaks a little bit. 

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Who decided that in order to be a “real” runner, or even just a healthy athlete, you have to prove it by running a marathon?  When I signed up for my first marathon, it was before the distance was trendy, and I did it in memory of my best friend’s dad who had recently passed away.  And after that first race, I was totally hooked.  I’m certainly not saying that people should NOT run marathons, and I am the first person to tell you that I truly believe anyone can do it with proper training and the right mindset. 

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Marathons have gone mainstream, and I think it’s wonderful that so many former couch-potatoes are now marathon success stories.  But in the age of the internet, it’s so easy to feel like you are the only person NOT training for a hard core endurance event.  You log into Facebook Saturday morning and see wall posts (rightfully) bragging of new mileage records.  Or you scroll through your Google Reader and realize that 7 of the 10 bloggers you love most are training for marathons.  But as a marathoner myself, let me be the one to say it…

You do not have to run a marathon.

Heck, you don’t ev
en have to run!  Health is not measured in miles.  I hate seeing people striving for health and for success, constantly feeling like they aren’t doing enough.  What works for one runner may never happen for another, and that’s okay.  Running is an individual sport, and (unless you are an elite runner) you are truly only ever running against yourself. 

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There is no reason that a 5K runner should feel any less proud than a marathon finisher.  Is Ryan Hall a more accomplished runner than Usain Bolt, because Hall runs 26.2 miles and Bolt only sprints 100 meters?  Bolt has an Olympic gold medal, Hall doesn’t.  They are both successes because they are striving towards individual goals, for which there is no comparison. 

Running has brought so much joy into my life, and I love that it is a sport where any and everyone can participate.  Running has brought me friends…

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And it has taught me that I am capable of pushing myself to do things that I once thought were impossible. 

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But even with 5 marathons medals on my wall, my proudest running moment will always be the first time I ran for one entire mile without stopping.  It was the first time I felt like I was no longer the fat girl, but instead – an athlete.

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It didn’t take 26.2 miles for me to feel like a real runner – it only took one. 

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325 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Tami     at 6:02 pm

i have stopped watching that show all together. And I agree with you 100% that it hasn’t the distance it’s the journey and these people still have a long way to go

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Mariah     at 6:05 pm

I LOVE this post! I totally agree with you, I ran my first mile today and nearly collapsed in the cold but I did it in only two runs and felt SO proud of myself!! I especially love the part about Hall and Bolt and think that will definitely be a change in perspective for a lot of people.

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Linda     at 6:05 pm

Thank you for that post Emily – I wondered how on earth they had trained for a marathon in a mere 4 weeks… it’s a shame the producers thought to go with that angle.

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Erin @ Shortcut to Bliss     at 6:05 pm

I love this post. This is absolutely why I read your blog (obsessively). =)

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Mere     at 6:06 pm

As someone who abhors running, I really, really appreciate this post! The couch to 5k program has been blipping through my head for the last few months…maybe it is time to try. If *only* to run one mile without stopping!

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Kristine Reply:

I’m right there with you, Mere! I have never enjoyed running. But I heard about C25K and recently loaded the free app on my iPod. It’s too rainy where I live to do a lot of outdoor sports and I loathe the treadmill. I’m keeping in shape this winter with Zumba and strength training. :-)

But my goal for spring/summer 2011 is to train for and run a 5K without stopping to walk.

We can do it together!

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Mere Reply:

Ha! I think I downloaded 3 or 4 podcasts about it! I have not listened to any of them! I am in Northern CA, so sadly, I cannot use weather as an excuse. I guess that means I can start pretty soon, huh?

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manasa Reply:

This is an amazing article. Mere I think u should go ahead and do it:) I did my first 5k trail run this saturday and its an amazing feeling. I trained for 3-4 weeks as this was mostly a hilly trail so it was more like a fast hike to the top and then tumbling down.

i live in Northern CA so cant complain about the weather:)

Good Luck

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Lou     at 6:06 pm

What a great post and an important message. I have many problems with the Biggest Loser, in general, and I totally agree with all your points. Of course, I still cry a little every time one of them crosses the finish line. And then I get angry and the injustices of the show. Really, there’s a lot that’s not healthy about the Biggest Loser.

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Lisa     at 6:06 pm

Great post, Emily! It took me a long time to accept the fact that even though I may never run a marathon, I am still an athlete and just as good of a runner as anyone else. My body just isn’t built for distances over 13.1. I’ll probably try again, because that’s me, but if I can’t complete a marathon, I’ll still be proud of what I have been able to accomplish.

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Hillary     at 6:07 pm

Amazing Post!!! I just started running a few moths ago in an effort to lose weight to become more healthy. I almost cried while reading this, tears welled up, so easy to relate to. Thank you for writing this post. You are amazing!

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emily (a nutritionist eats)     at 6:08 pm

Love this post!!! I love blogs, internet, twitter, etc but I think so many of us compare ourselves to others when we shouldn’t be – running and marathons def included!

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Clare     at 6:08 pm

I agree completely and wholeheartedly.

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lindsay     at 6:09 pm

LOVE this post! As someone who will never run a marathon (or at least not until I have a hip replacement) I definitely have pangs of jealousy or feelings of inadequacy when reading of my friends’ and favorite bloggers’ personal athletic accomplishments, mostly having to do with running. But, I know that I shouldn’t and this post is a good reminder…thanks Emily!

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Vanessa     at 6:11 pm

This was a really great post! I agree with everything you said! I have a hard time running, especially long mileage. And I feel like it is now almost “the trendy” thing to do, running marathons that is.. I commend people for completing marathons, it’s certainly something to be proud of! Just do it for the right reasons! Anyways, thanks for the great read!

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Lauren     at 6:11 pm

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!

This past year I ran my 1st (then 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) half marathon, and I am so proud of myself. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have bragging rights because it’s “only” a half. Then I remind myself that last year I couldn’t even run 3 miles, so I have every right to be proud.

The blogging world can be helpful and hurtful in the same way. I hate comparing myself to others, but my reading others stories I have realized that I can accomplish that too!

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Chelsea     at 6:12 pm

Awesome post! I completely agree with you. I only started watching TBL last week and turned it on last night thinking it would be finale week. I was then SHOCKED to see them running a marathon. When they did their weigh-in I kept yelling at the TV that it was so unfair to Ada because after a race like that (in the time that she did) you gain a bunch of weight as your body repairs itself. If she had walked that marathon her weight would have been much lower and that just sucks because she ROCKED that marathon. She was probably the only one that really should have been out there doing it and she actually probably wasn’t prepared the way she should be because it takes time.

This is also a good reminder for me. Pre-baby my last race was an Ironman. Post-baby, I’ve felt like a 10K or a sprint distance tri or whatever “isn’t good enough” and that’s just stupid.

Anyway-you are so right and thank you so much for posting this.

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Kimberly @ Healthy Strides     at 6:12 pm

Such a well-written post, and I think you really put it in perspective.

I was so disheartened when Daris nearly broke 4 hours and then was reprimanded for his lack of weight loss. I also get frustrated that they never show runners properly fueling their bodies during the race. No gels. No sports drinks. No bagels at the finish. I was surprised they even showed Ada’s cramps because, well, that’s a real reality of distance running.

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kelly     at 6:12 pm

Totally agree with you :) Great post!!

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Oaks Runner     at 6:13 pm

Oh, I like this post very much. Well said.

I’ve run 2 10Ks, 5 Halfs, 2 Fulls and training for my 3rd. The first time I ran a whole mile remains my proudest running moment, also.

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Brittany @RebelRoadSister     at 6:15 pm

Fabulous blog post!! I think I have to agree with you on the whole biggest loser marathon. I have only done three 5k’s and to be quite honest, I still don’t call myself a runner. My running is a work in progress, but this post made me realize that I don’t have to just run marathons to be considered a runner. Thanks!

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Liz     at 6:16 pm

Great post Emily. I agree, and also want to add that you don’t have to be a runner to be healthy!

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Amy     at 6:17 pm

What an awesome post! I completely agree, and you totally rock!

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Alayna @ Thyme Bombe     at 6:18 pm

This is such a great message and one that I need to remind myself of every now and again.

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Nicole     at 6:18 pm

Wow, this was an amazing post. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately with reading so much about marathons. I am getting ready for my 2nd 5k and felt like it was really nothing but now you have given me a sense of pride and accomplishment of something that is big to ME, even if its not a marthon.

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Samantha     at 6:18 pm

This is the most amazing post. EVER. I just started running last January. I’ve done 3 races so far (4.2M, 5K, 10K) and I’m running my 4th race this Saturday (12K). I’ve been training for the PF Chang’s 1/2 Marathon on January 16th in AZ. But due to some personal problems I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my ultimate goal, and it has really got me down – like I’m not a “real” runner if I don’t do this race. But your post has made me see that as long as I’m running for me and doing my best then that makes me a “real” runner. A distance doesn’t define me as a runner, the fact that I get up and run for me makes me a runner. THANK YOU. :)

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Rachel @ FitFunandFabulous     at 6:19 pm

Love this post! And I’ve never been a fan of the Biggest Loser – everything seems to be this huge rush to lose weight the fastest or run a marathon in only a month of trainig (?!?!)…those aren’t the lessons that teach you lifelong healthy habits.

Then people back home who are trying to lose weight can’t stay motivated because they aren’t losing 10 lbs a week like the Biggest Loser people are.

Its just totally unrealistic and unfair.

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Canadian Reply:

I totally agree. I don’t think the Biggest Loser promotes people safely getting to a healthy weight in a way that is reasonable for an ordinary lifestyle, and will lead to being able to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of their lives. But I guess a show that truly did that would not be “exciting”.

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Lori Lynn     at 6:20 pm

I love this post! It really puts it into perspective, b/c I too have had the misconception that in order to be a real “runner,” you have to be training for or have run a marathon. I’m a extreme newbie of a runner. Thanks! :-)

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Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner)     at 6:21 pm

This is an amazing post- thank you so much! I was starting to doubt as to whether I can call myself a ‘runner’, as I’ve never run 26.2 miles before! But I think it’s about enjoyment, and not necessarily mileage.
It’s good to hear someone talk about this, especially since I feel there is a bit of (unintentional!) pressure to run marathons at the moment in the blogworld!

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Janna     at 6:22 pm

Thank you for writing this. Seriously – we all need to hear it healthy living blog readers and writers alike.

You don’t need to be a marathoner or even a runner at all to be healthy. There are so many other ways to stay fit that no one should feel pressure to run if they don’t want to.

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Lori @ For the Run of It     at 6:23 pm

This is a great post! I am one of those people who started running for health and now I’m plagued by thoughts of marathons and long runs and if I don’t do it, I’m not a real runner. I mean, I love running, I feel like a runner, but just the thought of any part of a half or full marathon makes my body hurt. Still, I keep thinking I should be planning for the big one. I like running a 5K, I feel accomplished with an 8 or 10K. I want to find satisfaction in those distances and not feel like I have to run longer or faster in order to be “real”.

I have mixed feelings about the BL marathon. I do think that by focusing more time on daily training than the average person can, training over 3-4 weeks might be possible while it realistically should take 12 weeks. But I remember an earlier season where Darus trained and trained and completed the marathon in just over 4 hours!! That was amazing, yet he came back to ranch with a two pound gain. Like you said, healthy training could lead to weight gain. His shining moment, that fast marathon finish, was overshadowed by his lack of weight loss while at home. That didn’t feel right to me at all.

But back to the overall aspect of the BL marathon, I have found myself thinking that if they can run a marathon, I should be able to too, right? I should want to, shouldn’t I? It seems that it’s becoming the finish line of many people’s dreams of a healthy life, like if you’ve done a marathon, you’re the epitome of good health. But I want to find health at the 5K-10K finish, however, it seems in a world filled with extremes, these distances are seen as less than. I’m always glad to hear from others, especially marathoners like yourself, that you don’t have to run marathons. I’m going to share you post on my blog later today. This word is worth spreading. Thanks, Emily.

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Theodora     at 6:23 pm

YES!!!!! I get e-mails like that all the time, too. “I can ONLY run a 5k.” Just like you don’t have to run a marathon, you don’t have to run at all, so conquering any distance that’s new to you is amazing.

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)     at 6:23 pm

I really enjoyed reading this post. Although I’m not one to get usually sucked into the comparison bug, I do feel that so many bloggers have done incredibly long-distance runs that it makes it seem like marathon racing is the norm or the goal to head towards for everyone. I also can’t help but think that a lot of people probably end up injuring themselves trying to follow suit!

And, I’ve unfortunately noticed a trend among a lot of bloggers who are regular marathon runners, where they are now facing injuries and issues.

Great post, Emily!

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Lisa     at 6:24 pm

This is a timely post for me. I ran the Hood to Coast Relay race in August of this year–a year of training for it. After I completed it I took a week off and then was about to start my Half Marathon training (immediately). Not a great idea and my body decided it was having none of that. I ran once and suddenly had excruciating knee pain. Long story short: overuse of IT Band. I took 6 weeks off, cross-trained, strength trained, and saw a bunch of specialists.

Now? I can run a slow run of 2 miles on the treadmill. That’s it. I had to come to terms with that. Give up my dreams (for awhile anyway) and do what my body tells me.

It’s frustrating to read so many other bloggers who can run marathons with no injuries, no pain, no problem. It’s just something “fun” some of them do on weekends. Or so it seems. I also see a lot of people running “through” injuries and probably doing more damage than good.

Who cares about expectations? Listen to your bodies.

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Kelsey     at 6:25 pm

I think this is one of my favourite posts you have ever written. I am a runner, I work part-time in a running store but my day job is researching osteoarthritis. I see many people start running as a means to get healthy and become hooked. While it’s great to see new runners move up in distance as they want to feel more challenged, it is just as great to see consistent runners out there enjoying themselves. I agree that not everyone has to or can run a marathon, as not all of our bodies are built to withstand that distance.

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Erica     at 6:25 pm

Great post, I don’t have much to say other than that I appreciate this post so much, and think it’s a really important message. The Biggest Loser Marathon scares me a little bit, makes me worry that the contestants will set themselves up for nagging running injuries or will turn them off of running.

I really love your attitude about running, healthy, healthy eating, and life in general. I’m so glad I found your blog!

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Michelle     at 6:25 pm

That was an awesome post! Thank you for putting that out there. I’ve caught myself responding to people who ask if I run by saying “yeah, but I’m really slow” or “yeah, but I can only run 4 miles.” Instead I should be proud of myself. I didn’t run my first mile until two years ago. Even at that time, I still never thought I’d be able to run more than a 5K. 4 miles is a huge accomplishment for me.

Thank you for reminding me, and everyone else that puts one foot in front of the other, that we are runners.

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Casey Reply:

Michelle – you took the words out of my mouth!!!

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Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)     at 6:27 pm

Love this post! Especially because in the blog world it feels like everyone is a marathoner. I’ve found myself apologizing for the fact that I’ve ‘only’ run a 5k, which I think is stupid of me to do. Instead, I”m practicing saying I RAN A 5K!!! Because that’s how I felt afterwards :)
Love, a former non-runner

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suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic]     at 6:27 pm

This is a great post! :) *applaud*

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Lauren     at 6:27 pm

I love this post! Running is about what you can do, not others. I think it’s crazy that The Biggest Loser expects people to run a marathon in a few weeks while losing weight. I feel like it would lead to injury and problems with self-worth instead of making people feel good and motivated.

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Penny     at 6:29 pm

Really great post, Emily. I stopped watching BL years ago, I didn’t like the “game” aspect of it. I’m a really slow runner, and I constantly fight against the voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough. But the first 20 mins I ran (couch to 5k!) was completely life changing, and I shouldn’t ever forget that!

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Runeatrepeat     at 6:29 pm

THANK YOU?

Totally agree with you on all of this. It makes me feel guilty when readers say, “I can’t run xx amount of miles!” after a post about a long run. I think – “You don’t have to!”

You don’t have to run a marathon to be healthy, heck you don’t even have to run at all. Find exercise that makes you feel good :)

The Biggest Loser used to be one of my fave shows, but the discounting of marathon training kills me :( I don’t watch anymore.

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Liz @ Blog is the New Black     at 6:31 pm

Valid points- enjoyed reading this!

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Kate (What Kate is Cooking)     at 6:31 pm

It would be cool to watch them run a marathon if they had trained properly for it- it would show that anyone can do it if they train right! The only thing I like about it is that it shows people of all sizes running, which, for someone that doesn’t look like a typical runner, I certainly appreciate :)

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Anne P     at 6:32 pm

GREAT post.

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Allie (Live Laugh Eat)     at 6:33 pm

This was a great post, Emily. I had the same conversation with my mom yesterday about the BL marathon and how insufficient time they spent training for it. My mom ran the Marine Corps Marathon (back in ’97) and she properly trained for it. She was shocked the BL contestants ran it with only 3-4 weeks to prepare. I wonder if any of them got injured afterwards. I mean, they must have at least had shin splints or IT band trouble.

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Stacy R.     at 6:33 pm

This is a really excellent post Emily! I’ve been struggling a lot lately with running and it’s because I feel like I have to “live up” to everyone else’s standard. I don’t have a blog, but I feel like if I’m not running at least a 5k I don’t deserve to be reading blogs because I can’t contribute much to the conversation.

I try to let healthy blogs fuel my passion for living a healthy and balanced lifestyle no matter what type of exercise I’m doing, but often times seeing so many people have all these racing goals makes me feel like less of an athlete and I have to come to the conclusion running long distances is just NOT for me and I think I’ve accepted that.

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Julie (A Case of the Runs)     at 6:34 pm

Agreed. One of the pitfalls of this blogging phenonmenon is that people start sizing themselves up against other bloggers. Day after day, you realize you cannot afford a Vitamix, can’t have a perfect house/dog/homecooking/fancy dining meals, or time/energy/body type to plow through all that training.

People need to realize that blogs are the outlet for people to broadcast that stuff, and this isn’t quite the norm. If people I knew in real life broadcasted the way bloggers do, I’d probably be annoyed. It’s nothing against bloggers (as I am one myself) — blogs are MEANT for these things. But I will admit that I am actually embarrassed when people find out I’m about to do marathon #8, and am a dissertating 25-year-old. I don’t want to be seen as weird, NOR do I want to make anyone think less of themselves. I run because I like the challenge, but other people do lots of things that I’d say, “There’s no way I could…”

In regards to not liking these Biggest Loser marathons, I agree with you completely. Marathon training is needed to be healthy. I am in the best shape and eat best when I am NOT training. And although I am glad marathoning is getting people off the couch, I don’t really appreciate the fact that people seem to no longer respect the extremity of the sport. Yes, I admit it — seeing tutus at marathons (that aren’t specifically ‘costume marathons’) offends me. 5k, 10k, fine, but if I went from couch to marathon and sacrificed/worked to get to the start, I’d be wondering why these people are flaunting in my face that they find this such a small deal that they won’t even come dressed properly to an athletic event. That’s just my opinion.

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Julie (A Case of the Runs) Reply:

err, I meant to say, “Marathon training is NOT needed to be healthy…”

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Katie     at 6:35 pm

Thank you for this. I have been growing so weary of the (at least apparent) competition of many bloggers, trying to brag (implicitly or explicitly) about how athletically elite they are. While we should celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, and a marathon is definitely a feat, there is no need to make others feel lazy or less-than simply because they don’t run 26.2 miles (or run at all). There are so many individual factors in our goals, and we really should do our best to honor them all, and our bodies in the process. Running a marathon is not something that is beneficial for my body, but kudos to those who find that it is for theirs. Doing bird of paradise in yoga? I think after months of striving for that goal, it is equally commendable.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Emily!

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Leanne     at 6:37 pm

I looooove this post. Thank you for being a blogger who talks about important issues like this! Although I love reading blogs, at times I feel like I’m inadequate because I don’t train as hard as they do… this post put things into perspective for me.

:) you never cease to amaze me! have a wonderful day Emily!

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Clare     at 6:38 pm

Like you, I have mixed feelings about Biggest Loser. I cry every time I watch it, but a lot of things about it make me crazy — the pressure on the contestants, the psychoanalysis from the trainers (UGH!), etc.

I wonder why so many people do turn to running when they decide to get in shape. I ran for years even though I hated it! Now I mostly do weight training. I was way more excited when I squatted 200# for the first time than I ever felt about running-related PRs. You’ve just got to find something you like — keeping it up isn’t hard when you look forward to it.

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Sana     at 6:38 pm

Can I be honest? I don’t even like the concept of TBL. They are put into a 24/7 health and fitness world. When that is not reality.
Not everyone can and should spend 4-5 hours a day working out.
Healthy living happens when you are working 9-5 and have to deal with home and work stress.
That is all.
You are aweseome. I will prolly never run again but knowing that i have run 5 miles non-stop is good enough for me.

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Cilla     at 6:39 pm

I loved this post, Emily :) I remember my first nonstop mile, and it felt amazing. I feel most comfortable running the 10K event. I know that if I pushed for more distance, I’d not love running any longer. My running goals are linked to improving my 10K time and training better for the next event. But I still sure do admire marathon runners!

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Jennifer@ knackfornutrition     at 6:40 pm

I think your point about running long distances not leading to weight loss is very important. People have a serious misconception that running=weight loss. That may be true up to a point, but when you demand that amount of exertion from your body you are clearly going to be more hungry. It makes me sad to see the Biggest Loser making reinforcing such blanket statements. I think it is dangerous to promote marathon running for weight loss.

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Red Deception     at 6:42 pm

I am not a runner, but I am a snowshoer! There is an event in my city that has a 44.5km to 225 km race that is done on snowshoe, skis, or running! I’ve decided to take my hobby and make it a race :)

My point is, everyone has different desires in fitness. Some people run marathons in sunny weather, I strap on snowshoes and hit the snow. As long as it’s a joy!

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Cynthia (It All Changes)     at 6:43 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Seeing many of my favorite bloggers train for marathons always made me feel like I had to run a marathon to be “legit.”

Now knowing that I’ve pushed my body too hard I have to scale back on the distance. I was mopey, sad and discouraged. Seeing other runners (especially marathoners) celebrate shorter distances makes me proud to be a runner at all :-)

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Christin@purplebirdblog     at 6:47 pm

The Biggest Loser pisses me off in its entirety. I have read that towards the end some of the contestants restrict water and all sorts of other horrible things to weigh less… one guy was pissing blood by the end. THAT IS NOT HEALTH. It scares me that our society supports this at all.

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Amy     at 6:49 pm

Great post! I have many problems with the Biggest Loser. I actually haven’t been able to watch it since I met a girl who was a production assistant on the show. She basically said much of what you see is fake, and the contestants are actually starving themselves and working out until they collapse. Then they sit in saunas for hours before weigh ins to lose all the water weight. Now it makes me sad to watch. Not to mention that fact that no one should be losing that much weight every week, no matter how much you have to lose.

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Becca     at 6:49 pm

love this post. it’s SOOOO true too….Sometimes I forget all about my accomplishments as an athlete when I think, “i’ve never run an official distance race of more than 8 miles!” But then I have to remember all those “fun” runs of 16-20 miles, and remember who I’m doing this for, and that I am an athlete, and a runner, no matter what my stats say. I DO IT FOR ME!

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Leah     at 6:52 pm

Fantastic post! I can’t run, really. I have pretty severe plantar fasciitis. I often find me beating myself up when I read all these blogs with runners that are in fantastic shape and can run marathons time after time. I have to shake myself out of it and tell myself I’m stronger in other ways. I cdan probably squat more than all of them and I hold a mean eagle pose. ;)

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Heather     at 6:54 pm

I agree and disagree with you. (makes total sense right?)
I agree in the sense that they are most likely undertrained, and, that it does make it look like you have to run a marathon to be an athlete. BUT, so many bloggers do them I can see how it easily makes other readers or even bloggers feel like they have to run one to be in the cool club.
That being said, I still think it is SO inspirational. To go from their old life to running a marathon is totally awesome and inspiring. I actually just wrote a post on this today. I am running my first marathin next month and I am scared. that episode gave me the boost I needed to say “if they can do it I can do it, lets get going and run this thing!”

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Summer     at 6:58 pm

Thank you so much, Emily. This is exactly what I needed to hear/read today :)

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Stephanie Reply:

This, so much. I was doing some training for a 5K, and I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to get past the 3.1 mile mark…forgetting that I can RUN 3.1 MILES IN A ROW. They may be slow, but I never even finished the mile test from the Presidential Fitness Test in HS.

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Lindsey     at 7:04 pm

Excellent post! I couldn’t have said it better. I have a lot of issues with Biggest Loser and really only watch it for the emotional pull. I’m rooting for Ada this season. I think the first season they had the marathon, Micheal injured his hip from overtraining.

Again, excellent, well-written and critical post!

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Janene     at 7:05 pm

I LOVE YOU for this post!! Fantastic!!

I thought I wouldn’t feel like a “real” runner until I had run a long distance race, but last night, I ran 2 miles in 25 degree weather and LOVED every minute. I’m sorry if that’s not “being a runner,” then maybe I don’t want to be called a runner, te he! ;-)

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Victoria (District Chocoholic)     at 7:06 pm

This is an incredible post, I hope it makes it onto one of your “top posts” pages because this is very important for people to read. I have so much respect for you for putting in the time required to train for marathons, and it’s great that your goal is to run marathons, but people shouldn’t feel like they “only” train for 5ks or 10ks – or that they only run to stay in shape! Getting out there and moving on a regular basis is what is most important.

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Jodi     at 7:07 pm

Emily, i absolutely love this post. Thank you for writing this. You took the words right out of my mouth. With one 5K under my belt, I STILL feel like an athlete because I get up every single day and take care of my body with good food, plenty of water and of course, exercise but I’m not running marathons and am not sure I’d ever want to at this point. thank you, thank you. I 100% agree.

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kari     at 7:07 pm

Ok. I LOVE love love this post. I ran track all my life and was a varsity sprinter in college – sprinter being the key word. I’ve ALWAYS hated running for distance. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can tolerate it, but my body is built to run fast and short, not long and “slow” (as in slower than sprinting). The idea of being fast at things like 5ks is a bit appealing to me – the idea of running marathons just isn’t. And I find it frustrating that fitness-wise, running is one of the only things I – and a lot of other people, it seems – can think of to do that doesn’t cost money or require too much forethought or fancy equipment. Also frustrating is that, as a blog reader, everyone seems to be not just running but racing. As a former competitive athlete, I do miss competition, and would like to be in a bit better shape I suppose, but I’m not particularly interested in running – and it’s challenging to find that outlet when running is all the rage for everyone else and often feels like it’s the only thing out there.

I watched the same Biggest Loser episode last night, and thought along the same lines. In a way – who do these people think they are? Training for a few weeks seems… well, pathetic. And not really like something the trainers should endorse, although a lot of what they make the contestants do seems like it should fall into that category. Not to mention that, as you pointed out – even last night, the fastest finisher was also the one out of the four with the lowest weight loss. I think the show is about pushing limits, though, and I do appreciate that fact about it – that people can decide to make a change and just actually do it. I’m just not always sure that they’re thinking about it all with health as the biggest motivating factor.

As a non-marathoner, I’ll say it too: You don’t have to run a marathon!

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Katie Reply:

I TOTALLY hear you!! I am a former competitive runner as well (ran cross country in college). While I miss the competition and have run a half marathon I don’t think I could EVER run a full. And I’ve been running my ENTIRE life!
I still consider myself in good shape and nowadays I run when I want to, do the elliptical, stair-stepper and spin class, etc. And I will probably never run a marathon, but I’m still and will always be proud of all of my running accomplishments.

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Emily Malone Reply:

I think you are definitely in good shape, and you are a pretty bad ass runner. :)

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Marci     at 7:10 pm

Love it! So true! It also bugged me that they take forever to finish. Not that slow is bad, because I am slow too, but because they take longer than courses sanction for a marathon. which means unsafe and poorly trained.
I don’t really have a desire to run 26.2, but I am still healthy! I have unbelievable admiration for people who run marathons, but I also admire yogis and gymnasts, and women who can deadlift 2x their body weight.
There will always be someone who can run further or faster, so just do your best at what you like!

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Katie @ Healthy Heddleston     at 7:10 pm

Emily this post was awesome and I felt like I was reading my opinion the whole time. It’s truly truly irresponsible for the BL company to allow only 1 month or training.. and then, like you said basically have the contestants feel like they’re choosing between weight loss and money. I’m glad you gave such an honest opinion because I think a lot of people agree with it and just didn’t have the guys to say anything about it while they were watching BL last night.

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Julianne     at 7:12 pm

Such a great post. I feel the same way about TBL and the marathon. Respect the distance!

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Leslie     at 7:16 pm

This is my favorite post on any blog, EVER! This is a great reminder to anyone who doesn’t run long distance that the small things count just as much. As someone who hates running, I find that the first (and only) time I ran a mile in 11 minutes was enough to keep me content. I excel at other things. Group classes like kickboxing, zumba, lifting, and spin let me achieve that high that gives my mind a break. These classes make me just as much of an athlete as any marathoner. Congrats to those who have trained and competed! Congrats to those who workout on a consistent basis! Afterall, we’re all trying to achieve optimum health!

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Emma     at 7:21 pm

Great post, thanks so much for blogging about this! I was always an athlete in high school, and jumped back on the healthier lifestyle path after my post college years were over. As a non runner, when I started running & training for my first 5K I got a bit discouraged and down on myself seeing so many blogger doing marathons, 15 mile runs, etc. Even though I was eating very healthy, doing a great balance of cardio, yoga, weights, etc. I felt like if I was going to be a runner it was all or nothing. I had to want to be a marathon runner & if not running a 5K or 10K distance was nothing. Finally I had to realize I wasn’t competing with anyone and I was living a balanced & healthy lifestyle. And just because I didn’t want to run a marathon didn’t mean I was any less of an athlete, runner, & good role model for health.

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Corey @ The Runner's Cookie     at 7:21 pm

Completely agree with you. The Biggest Loser really bothers me for many reasons, mainly that exercising 10 hours a day is not a practical or healthy way to lose weight. To me, a marathon is something athletic, that I first did because I grew up watching my mom run marathons, and I’ve been hooked since and truly enjoy running long distances; now it seems like a lot of people are running marathons for the wrong reasons. I don’t think anyone should EVER feel bad about not being able to run a marathon (or not being able to run at all!) We all have different athletic strengths and abilities, different preferences and lifestyles. There are SO many avenues to being healthy that to NOT include running marathons.

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Julie     at 7:24 pm

I so totally agree with every single word of that! I’ve always been really bothered by the fact that they require the four finalists to train for a marathon in 4 weeks time. It’s one big stress fracture waiting to happen.
Very insightful Emily…great post!

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Sarah @ EatRunGarden     at 7:29 pm

This post made me Smile. Thank you. :)

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Jen     at 7:34 pm

excellent!

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Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine     at 7:34 pm

AMEN to this!!! I’ve run two halves now, and whenever I tell people that they ask if I’m going to do to a full. I’m not ruling it out, but in all honesty I don’t really want to run a full- it’s just not for me!! Putting your heart and soul into a 5K means just as much as pushing through that marathon. Distance definitely does NOT make you a runner- LOVING it does!!

Don’t even get me started on the Biggest Loser. It’s some of the most irresponsible TV I’ve ever seen…

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alison     at 7:37 pm

This was a wonderful post. I totally agree with you. I think much of what the contestants are asked to do on the ranch is irresponsible. Three hundred pound people should not be jumping on tall boxes. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I really like what you said about health not being measured in miles. It’s true, but it’s still very hard not to compare yourself to others. There will always be someone faster or stronger or prettier or wealthier. It’s just a fact of life. All you can do is do your best, right?

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Amanda D     at 7:41 pm

This is a really great post. I don’t even watch The Biggest Loser because, while the principle is great, how they go about achieving the results just does not set a good example. I also agree that it belittles what most marathoners go through in order to properly train for one. Yes, anyone can run a marathon…when done correctly.

I’m still relatively new to running, and hope to run my first half marathon in May. I go through the ups and downs of sticking to my training plan and getting my runs in, but yesterday when I was 1 mile into my run I remember thinking “Wow, 5 months ago I couldn’t even run this without getting winded. Now look at me”, and Emily is right, that is one of the best feelings ever!

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Michelle     at 7:43 pm

Beautifully written.

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Madelin     at 7:48 pm

Love this post Emily, in fact it is posts like this tat make your’s my favourite blog :)

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Tamicka     at 7:48 pm

Great message! Makes me long for the nice weather here in NY so I can start to run again. Thanks

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Amanda in Pittsburgh     at 7:50 pm

You are awesome. Period.

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Lindsay     at 7:56 pm

What a great post!! It’s hard to not feel like I’m not healthy enough because running is just not my thing! I’d much rather do weight/strength training! This post just reiterates to me why your blog is my favorite! You’re awesome :)

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Katie Daley     at 7:59 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and really enjoy your balanced perspective. I was watching the biggest loser on hulu this afternoon and was horrified when Elizabeth said she’d never run more than 8 miles before the marathon. I was not surprised at all, after seeing Ada finish her marathon in about 4.5 hours, that she didn’t loose as much weight as she had hoped.
I have been struggling with the balance between distance running and weight loss for about a year now. I am so proud of my accomplishments in running. I started with the Turkey Trot 5k in 2009 and to date have numerous 5 and 10k’s and two half marathons. I love running and love the way it makes me feel but I cannot loose weight when I’m running.
I’ve decided to take a break from it for a while, at least from distances. Thank you for agreeing with me about TBL Marathon. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

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Kate     at 8:05 pm

Emily, thank you SO much for this post! I ran my first half marathon in May. The 13.1 miles of hills gave me a knee injury that almost ended my hopes of ever running again. After 3 cortisone shots I’m back to running but have had to cut my milage back dramatically. I find that I enjoy running a 5K even more now because I appreciate every step.

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Katheryn     at 8:06 pm

Very well said.

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Anon     at 8:19 pm

I have to say that as much as Biggest Loser discredits what it takes to train for a marathon, it discredits what it takes to lose that much weight. It does not realistically portray weight loss and sets unrealistic standards for viewers. Frustration with progress and subsequent quitting are big challenges for those transitioning to a healthy lifestyle; these feelings are exacerbated for any overweight (or obese) veiwer watching Biggest Loser.
I love your blog, and I think your focus on healthiness does not align with the crash dieting and obsession with weight that the Biggest Loser promotes.
Thanks for letting me rant, I obviously have strong feelings against that show :-)

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Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope     at 8:25 pm

And even more importantly, you not need to run AT ALL to be healthy!! I’ve tried running for my sprint triathlons and i’ve realized it just isn’t for me. I read your blog, Caitlin’s, etc, and everyone is running, running, running, so when you’re not into it, you might think something is wrong with you, but really, it is not for everyone. There is so much you can do to be healthy. Running is not the be all and end all of HEALTH.

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Candy @ Heathy in Candy Land     at 8:27 pm

Thank you for this post! For so many reasons.

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Sara     at 8:29 pm

Fabulous post! I found your blog earlier this year from a post on Kath Eats Real Food. Now, you are one of my favorites!

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Kristen     at 8:32 pm

I was just thinking about it and I am pretty sure this is my first comment…though I love your site… and I made your pumpkin bowl chili for my family when I at home in the states.

I just had to say that I couldn’t agree more with EVERYTHING you said! I used to really appreciate the show for “changing lives”… but there is so much that has gotten off base.

Though I will watch to see Bob… but now I live in Spain = no Bob :(

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Lauren     at 8:34 pm

This is incredible!!! You could not have said anything better and I truly believe in every single word you said 100%! I often feel discouraged because I haven’t run a marathon and sometimes I think I would like to but I know it’s not right for me now. I love to run, I love to run 20-30 miles a week, I love to run 5K’s and I consider my BIG races to be 1/2 marathons and you know what, I’m okay with that! I love to run and that is what makes me a runner. :)

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Amber K     at 8:36 pm

This has to be one of my all-time favorite blog posts. Not just from you, but from any blogger. It captures so many things that I have thought for such a long time. A “runner” I might never be, but I have my own accomplishments. And they aren’t in any way diminished because I am not training for a race.

I can’t even put into words how much I agreed with everything you said!

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Tracy     at 8:38 pm

I totally agree- I’ve run 1 marathon and 2 half marathons and think it’s so irresponsible of the trainers to encourage them to run a marathon in that short of a time frame, especially when a lot of the contestants have serious health issues. I’m glad you posted this.

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Cynthia     at 8:39 pm

Great post! I actually stopped watching Biggest Loser because I feel like the contestants are taught exercise regimens they can’t possibly continue at home. Who can work out for 6 hours a day once they get back to the real world? It sets them up for failure. I also agree that the marathon part of every season has always bothered me as well. No one can train for a marathon in a month. I’m surprised that more contestants don’t get injured. I have been running on and off and I think I get discouraged sometimes because I’m not a marathoner and I don’t know that I ever will be. But I have done a couple 5Ks and a 10K. A marathon doesn’t have to be the ultimate goal.

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Sylvia     at 8:44 pm

THANK YOU!!! I ran my first half marathon in November but people only want to know when I’ll run my first FULL and I was really proud of my half. =D I loved the Usain and Ryan comparison and thanks again for telling people that you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner.

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Angela     at 8:46 pm

Thank for reminding us all of something very important, which is something I tell my husband all the time – you are only competing with yourself! It is healthy to want to run, and it is healthy to want to compete, but it is not healthy to continuously compare yourself to other people. Show up to life and have a good time, and don’t worry about what the other guy (or gal) did, only worry about what you do. I watch BL, because I am inspired by the stories of the contestants, but I really wish is was just about getting healthy – not all the contests, challenges, and game playing that goes on. But, I guess that wouldn’t make for very interesting TV…

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Sara (Running with Teaspoons)     at 8:49 pm

This was such a great post. I think the popularity of marathons have really made people feel like they ought to run 26.2 miles to be legit. I know that as a beginning runner, I often devalue my accomplishments because I constantly hear or see people who can run faster and farther than I can. So, it’s great for you (especially you – someone who’s done the 26.2) to remind people (especially those of us who may never achieve 26.2) that just because we aren’t marathon runners or super fast runners does not mean we aren’t awesome and healthy athletes!

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La Historiadora de Moda     at 8:51 pm

I have a lot of problems with The Biggest Loser and the way it takes unhealthy people with food and exercise issues and gives them issues at the opposite end of the spectrum. Real health means lifestyle changes and those often don’t include working out for hours every day and extremely reduced calorie intakes….

I loved this post! Marathon training takes months rather than weeks, and I fear that this kind of thing will lead to inexperienced runners suffering from injuries in trying to follow suit.

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Lauren B.     at 8:54 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for this post! As a fairly new runner, reading all the blogs out there, sometimes I feel like if I want to validate myself as a runner, I have to run a marathon. And honestly, I don’t know if I WANT to. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, and I need to remember that this should be about me, and only me.

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Lee     at 8:56 pm

Great post.

I’ve never been a fan of The Biggest Loser. They work out for hours a day and are on a restricted diet, of course they will lose weight. That’s great for the people on the show, but how about people in the real world who have to work a 9-5 and then deal with whatever, not to mention having to navigate healthy food choices on their own. I wish they would have a show that taught people how to do those things and still lose weight. Then I would watch.

When I ran my marathon in 2007, I gained 8 pounds during training and all of my clothes became too tight in the thighs.

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Shannon     at 9:01 pm

Lovely.

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Kristen     at 9:08 pm

This might be my all time favorite post. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

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Kristen     at 9:09 pm

This might be my all time favorite post. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

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Tricia     at 9:12 pm

I LOVE you for posting this!!!! Actually made me tear up:) I have been running for 3 years and still struggle with thinking of myself as a “runner”. I so agree that my first 1 mile run (December of 2007) was a huge confidence booster for me. As a stay at home mom to 2 young kids, I had found a certain freedom that belonged just to me. It was only a mile but I felt invincible, strong, and athletic for the first time in several years. I am now a 3x a week runner (bc that is what my schedule allows), and I am striving for that (elusive to me) 5 miler. Again, like you said, only competing with myself. I am a runner because I run. Period.

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Kerri     at 9:19 pm

I love this post so much, Emily. I am a newbie (about 6 months) runner who is also about 50 pounds overweight and I find myself thinking negatively from time to time with thoughts like, “I won’t be a real runner until I can run at least a 10 minute mile” or “I will be a real runner when I can run 5 miles.” But you know what? I felt pretty awesome running 3 miles at my 12+ minute pace and I am still a real runner.

I stopped watching TBL. I used to love it, but after a couple of seasons, I realized how unrealistic and unhealthy (dangerous, even) the dieting and exercise regimens actually are. I get that they need dramatic weight loss from week to week for the purpose of the show, but it’s so far from real life.

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Ericka     at 9:21 pm

Great post, Emily! I’ve been feeling “guilty” lately for not currently training for any kind of race, despite the fact that I completed one full and three half marathons in the past year. Yet I’ve been feeling this pressure that I need to constantly be training for some super long distance to be considered a serious runner or to be really healthy. THANK YOU for reminding me that healthy comes in more ways than running distance events and that I can be proud of many other health and fitness accomplishments in my life, no matter what they are.

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Kaitlin With Honey     at 9:23 pm

Emily, I LOVED this post. I agree so wholeheartedly with your views on the marathon in The Biggest Loser and actually think it draws back to a lot of problems with the show (though, admittedly, I still kind of love it).

Also, I had somehow never read your “About” page before, and was inspired to do so by this post. You have such a beautiful story!

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Grace     at 9:23 pm

I know, I was absolutely shocked when Elizabeth said that she had only run up to 8 miles before she did the marathon. It’s not surprising that Ada did so well though – she was the acknowledged “runner” of the group. It was clearly something that she had fallen in love with far before the marathon.

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Jillian@ Reshape Your Life     at 9:27 pm

I love this post Emily! And I think you are right on the money! Having run my first 5k this past Saturday I found myself saying “oh it was only a 5k, I’m working my way up to a half marathon”

But a 5k is a huge feat, a couple of months ago I couldn’t run a mile! And I ran 3.1… I ran 3.1 in 30:31. I was even the first female finisher in my age group and got a medal (at my first race?!). That is a huge feat! Just because I haven’t run a marathon doesn’t mean I didn’t run an awesome race. :)

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Emily J     at 9:28 pm

Thank you Emily! I was feeling the pressure to run a marathon as it was so trendy with those bloggers I follow;) Thank you for your truth and inspiration.

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Cassie @ Back to Her Roots     at 9:43 pm

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU for this.
I’m a new runner (been running for about year) and have done 3-5Ks and just signed up for my first half marathon.

I really REALLY struggle with feeling like a “real” runner because of my older brother. He is an ultramarathoner and running comes as easy as breathing to him. It is still HARD for me and takes every ounce of energy to get through each mile. I struggle a lot with feeling like what I’m running isn’t good enough because he does 36 miles on his training runs.

Even now, training for 13.1, I feel like that it isn’t “enough” to feel really proud. Which is ludicrous.

But I’m getting better and learning to not compare myself to my brother or anyone else. But I still struggle with it each and every time I hit the road.

So thank you for reminding me that we are all runners. :)

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Lisa     at 9:47 pm

I just love love love this post- as you have expressed how I feel exactly :)

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Mike     at 10:04 pm

I get so tired of people pressuring me to run a half or marathon. I ran a 15k last year and did not enjoy it. However, I ran a 200m, 400m, and mile and LOVED it. It is so much more fun to run over 15 mph for an 1/8 mile. Great post! Thanks!

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emily     at 10:04 pm

I’ll add to the fray – I too LOVE this post!

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mindy     at 10:07 pm

Nicely said. I used to be a fan of BL but no more. I am not inspired by people losing weight in an unrealistic way. Training 6-8 hours a day; expensive trainers; total isolation from the outside world and day to day life; doctors and dietitians monitoring their every move. This is not a life style that the average person can sustain. At first, I thought the BL marathon was inspiring but after training for and running my first marathon this year I know that these people could not have properly trained for the BL marathon. This is no longer inspiring to me because I know the hardest part of a marathon is the training. I also think that after being on this show people must have chronic injuries that they will be contending with for the rest of their life. In addition, I agree I find it heart breaking that people are getting to the point that anything less than a marathon is no big deal. I love anything that gets us all out there as a community and gets us moving.

I was once very overweight and still struggle daily with my weight. The dramatic lifestyle change that needs to happen can not be made in a bubble in just 10 to 12 weeks. It is finding a balance between diet, exercise, mental well being, family, friends and career and I will continue looking for this balance my entire life.

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Elizabeth     at 10:14 pm

“Health is not measured in miles.” Love this!

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Emily Malone     at 10:15 pm

That is a wrinkle in my shirt from my headphones, which you can very clearly see. YOU, are sick.

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Felicia (a taste of health with balance)     at 10:21 pm

This is such an excellent post Emily! So many good points you’ve made, too many to point out, Loved this!!

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Carrie     at 10:26 pm

THANK YOU for this post…You’ve obviously helped a lot of us who needed to hear this!

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Anne Marie     at 10:35 pm

What a great post :) You put so much thought and energy into this and it was truly a great thing to hear.

I don’t feel like I HAVE to run a marathon, but after reading inspiration from you and other girls who have, I really really WANT to :)

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Ali     at 10:35 pm

I agree with the rest of the commenters that this was a great post! I had always wanted to run a marathon but never really knew where to begin. I read the blogs of many people running marathons and this only encouraged me to be smart, educate myself about plans, hydrating, etc. I ended up completing the marathon in October and have plans to run another one in May. While I used the blogs to reach my dream, I can certainly understand how some people could feel that they aren’t “real” runners until they run a marathon. There are many sides to this, but reading the blogs definitely helped me achieve a dream I have always stived for. :)

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Kamaile     at 10:47 pm

Emily, I agree with everything you have said! The responsible thing for BL would be to have the contestants train for a 5k or 10k these shorter distance races are still a HUGE accomplishment!

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Rachel @ EatMoreMeatLess     at 10:47 pm

Wow. What a post. Look for my re-tweet of it soon, because this is very thought out and well-written…

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holly     at 10:48 pm

Awwww I love you for posting this! I have never run a marathon, and might not ever – but watching the contestants on BL finish makes me feel like I could do it. I mean if someone that was 400 pounds and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairscan in 6 months finish 26.2 walking or running. Then I (who has completed 5k’s) could if I wanted and trained for it complete a marathon.
With that being said, I am kinda over this season of BL and the “gameplay” .. Is there a Team Ada T-shirt somewhere I can get to wear?

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Shelley     at 10:51 pm

Emily, I think it’s great that you’re offering such encouraging words to wannabe runners like me! I recently started running, and just like you, when I was coming up on the “finish line” of my first full mile, I had a big smile on my face! I’m really encouraged to hear you were just as proud of yourself after one mile too; that really makes me believe that someday I could probably run a marathon too!

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Jessica     at 10:53 pm

you. are. WONDERFUL!

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Aimee     at 10:53 pm

Amen! Thank you for this post.

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Jess@atasteofconfidence     at 10:55 pm

I loved this post. I feel the same way about the BL marathon, and your words are inspiring for a non-runner!

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Kelly     at 10:56 pm

I love this post! Sometimes I feel like I should be a runner to be in good shape or that I should do races but I’m not sure they’re for me. I love to hear other people’s opinions about this stuff. I agree about the marathon on The Biggest Loser. I think it is unnecessary and inappropriate for that context.

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Paige @ Running Around Normal     at 10:58 pm

Oh wow, what a great post! Heart-felt and so true! So many runners can fall under the comparison trap. It’s so important to remember this!

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KVH     at 11:02 pm

Great post Emily! I’m glad someone has the same sentiments as me on the BL Marathon. Although I truly believe ANYONE can run a marathon if motivated and properly train for it, I think BL downplays how difficult training and actually running a marathon is.

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Jen     at 11:04 pm

Thanks Emily! Ever since I watched Biggest Loser last night I’ve been struggling to put into words how I feel about their “marathon” episode. Your words today were so right, you hit it right on. I don’t think I’ll ever be a marathoner (and that’s ok), but the attitude of the Biggest Loser is that “anyone” can run a marathon, when, in fact that is not quite true. Not everyone can or should run a marathon. And if you are one of those people who “can’t”, or simply have no desire to, it doesn’t mean that your own accomplishments in your area of physical fitness should be diminished. I think the Biggest Loser attitude shows absolutely no respect for the marathon itself. Thanks for your words. They meant a lot.

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Lena     at 11:07 pm

Oh my goodness so many comments about this.

I agree with everything you have said. I love eating healthy and I love exercising, I walk 6-7km each day and do weights 2-3 times a week. However I hate running. I mean I hate it. I tried running 3 times a week for 6 long months and didn’t enjoy it at all. I am more then happy to walk the same distance as I would run. It just takes me longer. I feel I do enough exercise to keep me healthy.

Thanks for a great blog.

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Liz @ LBBakes     at 11:10 pm

I 100% agree with your stance on the Biggest Loser marathon. I actually stopped watching Biggest Loser a year ago because I’m just too opposed to the concept of the entire show. It is no reality to workout 10 hours a day and fuel yourself minimally. Apparently I’m in the minority in that stance, because the show gets amazing ratings season after season.

Sometimes I think it’s the little accomplishments along the way that are most important. Without them, you’d never reach those milestone goals.

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Rae     at 11:14 pm

This might be my fave of your posts. You rock.

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Madison M     at 10:44 pm

What a great post, Emily! Thanks for sharing and providing perspective!

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Jen Merschel     at 11:49 pm

Awesome post Emily. The BL marathon bothers me as well and you really put into words what I have been thinking.

As a marathoner myself, when those contestants finished I thought, those poor people probably won’t even get to go eat some french fries now.

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Jessica     at 11:54 pm

Thank you so much for this. I’m training for a 10k (slowly – I kind of slipped in training the last few weeks because of the cold) and I sometimes have such a hard time thinking of myself as a runner. I feel silly saying “I’m a runner” and then someone asking me “how far do you typically run” and me saying “um, 4 miles.” I feel like I can’t really claim that title until I do something big – like a marathon. BUT, at the same time, I’m RUNNING 4 MILES! I couldn’t do that two years ago. I could barely run up the stairs! So, I’m trying to change my perspective – and your post is a nice reminder that the little steps count just as much as the final destination.

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A Better Me     at 12:19 am

I totally feel the same way! I did a half-marathon recently as a personnal goal. You’re right it’s the finish, & the pushing yourself to limits you never thought possible, that is the reward. I didn’t even run the whole thing and still felt an amazing sense of accomplishment!I still do. Hands down my greatest moment was also running an entire mile. Something that, sadly, I couldn’t even do when I was in high school! My second proudest moment was actually running an entire 5k! It took several of them before I actually did it! Awesome post!

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Jessica     at 12:27 am

You know, I am so grateful that you wrote this. I have recently been feeling a bit …”lesser”. Sometimes I get sad while reading race recaps, seeing twitter updates on mileage, while I have a hard time completing a mile.

But it’s good that you reminded me of my accomplishments, my life has made a 180 since that day I decided to get up and exercise, to try to eat more veggies, to clean up my lifestyle.

I may never be able to run a sub 10 min mile, but I’m proud that I have changed :)

Thank you Emily! You are the best, and I (collectively, as a non-marathoner) appreciate the shout out!

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Me-Linh     at 12:40 am

Although I love the show, I hate how it makes it seem like training for a marathon takes less than a month. I mean the contestants only started to work out 3 months ago after leading sedentary lives!
Training for a race is a huge deal but I hate how the show makes it seem like a piece of cake. I remember watching this week’s episode and Elizabeth while running the marathon said 8 miles was the farthest she ever ran. 8?! She could’ve seriously hurt herself by only running 8 miles in preparation for 26.2.
ARGHHH

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Katy (The Singing Runner)     at 12:46 am

This is a GREAT post! I absolutely agree with everything you said.

And your last sentence make me tear up a little. :)

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Krista (kristastes)     at 1:05 am

I love this post! I gained 15 lbs training for my marathon, and lost a lot of my strength. My running/cardio stamina is redonk now, but I’d much rather have my muscles back!

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Meg     at 1:06 am

I never usually comment on blog posts, but this one really moved me. In fact, towards the end…I got chills. I love how you worded this.

When I first started reading healthy living blogs, I was not a runner. I hated running. But I felt like I needed to become a runner if I wanted to ‘fit in’ to the healthy lifestyle. So I have.

Thankfully, after a while I discovered that I really do indeed like running. I like how I feel, I like the runners high…but there was a time that I hated it and only did it because I wanted to be like everyone else. I felt that pressure at the beginning of my journey to run longer and harder because so and so was doing it.

I really appreciate that you say, everyone is different. What works for me does not have to work for you. Thank you for writing this!

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Dee     at 2:05 am

I echo everyone’s sentiments on this post.

As a non-runner (yet) and still thinking about the Cto5K program, I have to admit that i get quite intimidated in reading some blogs.

I thank you for this reminder that every little bit counts. Whether it is running, dancing, walking, or lifting weights. :-)

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SallyH     at 2:09 am

Thanks for this post, Emily.

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Gabi     at 2:36 am

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful, warm, encouraging post. It was a good reminder for me because although you are still a huge inspiration, sometimes it makes me feel a bit disheartened when I see how amazingly fit you are and realize I am only juuuust getting started (I realize that’s totally in my own head. I am struggling to lose weight and start/maintain a healthy lifestyle. I wonder if one day you might do a post on how to get started? Since I am coming from a baseline of practically less than zero!

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Stephanie     at 2:36 am

THIS is an excellent post. Thank you!

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Ida     at 2:54 am

Great post! I think BL does a lot of irresponsible things for ratings. Having the contestants run a mile on day one is bad too- some of them end up in the ER.

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Mama Pea     at 2:59 am

I, too, love this post, Em.

I do take exception a bit with the Biggest Loser thing…I think it is really cool to be able to give these individuals the feeling of accomplishing something they never thought they would EVER do. It must really be the last piece they are sent home with. They may not think they can maintain weight loss at home, but they probably didn’t think they’d ever run a marathon either!

I will NEVER run a marathon or even another half because of my back issues. But that doesn’t make me any less of an athlete, and definitely no less of a mother, wife or person. I wish everyone in the blog world felt this way. Thanking for expressing it so beautifully.

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Anna     at 3:47 am

Emily,

thank you for this post. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and posts like these are the reason why. Not only because I relate to what you write about, but particularly because I love the way you write. Your respect for yourself AND for people who chose to do things differently shows in every sentence.

In this world where we constantly compare ourselves to others and always think we have to be better, faster, more beautiful, this post has given me a much-needed break and has started me thinking about what it is that I really want to accomplish, and why.

Reading this post, I felt like a good friend gave me a long hug. A wonderful way to start the day! :-)

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Kim     at 5:01 am

Excellent post! So perfectly written Emily…
Thank you for your blog, thank you for being you!
:) :) :) :) :)

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You Don’t Have To Run A Marathon, Triathlon, Or Anything Else You Don’t Want To Do     at 6:36 am

[...] push themselves. I started thinking about this after reading a great post Emily wrote called “You Don’t Have To Run A Marathon” and hearing about how some of the Biggest Loser contestants ran a marathon when previously [...]

Kate     at 6:43 am

BEST. POST. EVER. Thank you!! :)

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Freya     at 6:58 am

I adore this post, and agree 100% with every single thing you said.
I’ve never seenThe Biggest Loser, but I was shocked to read they do a marathon after 4 weeks – that’s appalling!

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Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)     at 7:05 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

You so eloquently put into words exactly how I’ve been feeling about the Biggest Loser marathon. And running in general.

So…thank you! :D

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Roberta     at 8:12 am

So happy I am not the only one that feels this way and in fact I no longer watch the Biggest Loser because of that. I was just having this converstation with my co workers yesterday.

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Teri [a foodie stays fit]     at 8:20 am

This post gave me chills. Especially the last line. I 100% agree with everything you said about marathon running, training, being a “real runner” and an athlete. I happen to LOVE running myself and have been running for over 10 years but I (obviously) don’t run because it’s trendy. I run because it’s part of how I feel alive. Everyone needs to find what makes them feel alive and healthy, whether it’s running or something else. That’s what most important!

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Therese     at 8:26 am

I LOVE this post, Emily! I am not a fan of The Biggest Loser at all, the last time I gave it a shot one of the contestants had to go to the infirmary on the ranch and if you shifted your gaze behind them, FOUR other contestants were in there all bandaged up. I think the sheer amount of forced exercise on people who never exercised before is completely irresponsible and I remember in one of the first episodes they had to BIKE a marathon, on the FIRST episode!

There is too much we DON’T see on that show that I can’t deny it and it ceases to inspire me but enrage me instead.

I think this message of being a runner regardless of distance and that it’s alright to not run at all is great. To successfully lose weight or just stay committed to health and fitness in general you need to find what works for you, not what’s popular.

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Chase     at 8:43 am

This is a great post, Emily! I’ve always stuck to the mantra, “If you run, no matter how far or how fast, you’re a runner.” I’ve been running for the last 15 years (half my life, yikes!) and I hope to do it for as long as possible.

I just started training for my first marathon after completing a number of halfs and 10-milers, etc. For so many years, I would say, “Oh heck no! I’m never going to run a marathon! That’s too much time/ training/ commitment” But I decided I had to do *one*. Not because it would define me as a true athlete (I already define myself as an athlete), but for that cachet and sense of accomplishment that comes with saying, “I ran a marathon”. And if I love it, I’ll do another. And if I still love it, I’ll do another. But if I hate it, I never have to do it again and I can stick with my precious half-marathons which, to me, are long enough to give you a sense of accomplishment but not so long that they totally interfere with the other parts of your life.

But for these Biggest Loser competitors… I kind of agree with Mama Pea. There’s something that goes along with the mystique of the marathon and for these BL competitors, to “run a marathon” as the pinnacle of their weight loss journey carries a huge amount of “sense of achievement” power.

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Jamie in Arkansas     at 9:55 am

Girlfriend, you NAILED it! Best post EVER. Love the blog, love it even more now. Funny how adversity can change our perspective on life and how it’s always for the better.

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Shelley     at 9:58 am

What a great post! I sometimes struggle with the fact that I’m not running as far or as fast as other people in the blog world are, but I can usually just say to myself that it’s amazing that I’m even this far considering my slothness, and I should be proud of what I’ve achieved.

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Jill B.     at 10:01 am

Love the statement you ended with… so true.

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Liz     at 10:03 am

THANK YOU. Thank you thank you for this post. I cannot tell you how much I just needed to hear this! I used to hate running and say that I’d never be a runner and don’t understand why people do it. Then, one day I decided to try a walk/jog thing for a few days with not pressure to got any certain distance or speed. And after just a few days, I was hooked. However, I still am always thinking, deep back in my mind somewhere, that it’s not good enough, not long enough, not fast enough. Must go more, go further, go faster. But when the healthy side of my mind speaks, it tells me to recognize the accomplishment that 3 miles is for me – heck, even 1 or 2. Just getting out there is a huge accomplishment. The little running I do makes me feel amazing and it’s only because I stopped putting requirements and expectations on it.

Sorry for the rant, but your wonderful post couldn’t have been any better timed for me. :)

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Jen     at 10:04 am

I love this post. It is SO true you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner. I kind of hate that they’re becoming so popular, but that’s more because I’m selfish ;)

And the Biggest Loser annoys me for so many reasons.

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Laura     at 10:04 am

Thank you for this post, Emily! I have given the Couch to 5K program two tries (I usually get through about six weeks of it), and I’ve come to the conclusion that running isn’t for me. I find that I get bored, to be honest, and is not very enjoyable for me. My husband does triathlons (for nearly ten years at this point) and he has been an immense source of support and advice as I tried to get in to running. He’d even go with me sometimes which was awesome.

In the end, I have decided that more interactive athletic activities are more my speed. I did ballet from the time I was a little girl all the way through college (dancing four to six days a week). Since then my exercise has consisted of walking, aerobics DVDs, and light weight lifting at home. This week I signed up for taekwondo and (despite hurting in all sorts of new places!) I am having a great time so far. Not being able to run does get to me now and then, but I have to remind myself that there are probably runners who would not be able to do aerobics, ballet, or taekwondo. Different strokes for different folks!

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amanda     at 10:15 am

I loved this blog! I’m a beginner runner, and although I love it I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon. I don’t think that makes me any less of an athlete or runner than anyone else, it’s just a personal choice.

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Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun     at 10:19 am

I completely agree. The marathon drives me nuts too…and I’m not even a runner. I just know from hearing all of your stories the importance of proper training and fueling, which do not match up with what those contestants are doing. Or 30 days!

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Jessica     at 10:25 am

I might have teared up just now. Wonderful post! I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s nice knowing that the first mile is the most satisfying. *warmfuzzies*

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colleen     at 10:27 am

A wonderful post Emily! You nailed it! I don’t care for TBL for all the above mentioned reasons. Everyone needs to know you can be healthy in your own way – not just by running a marathon. I’ll stay with my 5Ks – my knees can’t handle anymore than that.

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Ashley     at 10:32 am

Thank you so much for writing this. I have really been struggling recently with this. It comes and goes in spurts. But instead of letting it overcome me, I’ve started doing things that make me happy and feel good. I’ve even gotten off of facebook to avoid the everyday posts so not to mar any progress. You rock!

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Kathleen     at 10:42 am

I try to walk 25-40 miles a week. Most people consider walking to be a throw away exercise in the fitness world. It frustrates me. I had a two level spinal fusion 15 years ago and walking is what works for me. I’ve have run 5ks and one10k and it’s like you became more legit after blogging about those. I look back now at how incredibly silly that is. This post makes me want to “own” my walking and mileage with pride! I am tired of feeling like it’s not enough. Thanks Emily. Sometimes it just takes a simple reminder to put things into perspective.

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Annie@stronghealthyfit     at 10:53 am

Love this post! Thanks for you honesty. You are such an inspiration :-)

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Katie (The Boston Marathoner)     at 11:13 am

Great post! I feel the same way, on a number of different points. I realized this summer that training for a marathon is the best way to GAIN weight…. not lose it.

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Girl@GirlvsFat     at 11:13 am

Hi,
I have been reading your blog for a while now, without leaving any comments. But this time I just had to. I loved this post. Especially the last line. You’ve captured it beautifully.
:)

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Beth     at 11:26 am

What a fantastic post! I always find myself talking about how I’m a “slow” runner or a “not a natural runner.” That matters so much less than the fact that I AM running and getting healthy. And that I am so proud of myself for running at all.

Last year when I completed my first half-marathon (slowly), I couldn’t help but cry as I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t about the time I ran it in, it was about the fact that I accomplished something that seemed so challenging only a few months before.

Thank you for this!

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lauren     at 11:29 am

Two thumbs up on this post! :)

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Bonnie     at 11:34 am

Wow…I agree with all the comments – such positive feedback for your post. :) You hit the nail on the head – you most definitely don’t need to run a marathon to be healthy and fit, or need to be a runner at all! I always tell my clients (I’m a personal trainer) to go with their strengths – if you hate running, there are plenty of other ways to get fit and see change! As a runner myself, I fall prey to trying to add up miles to make my runs seem worthwhile; this was a good personal reminder for me too. Thanks Emily!

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Chrissy (The New Me)     at 11:34 am

I love this post. I started running about three years ago, and I’ve completed one marathon and am currently training for a second. But I will never forget how proud I was the first time I ran a mile, or how sore I was the next day! Running wasn’t easy in the beginning (and it’s still tough now) but that’s why I love it so much. I get just as excited for a 5K race as I do for a marathon.

Thanks for this post! I’ve shared it on Twitter and sent it to a bunch of my friends. I hope they find it as inspiring as I do!

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Bethenie     at 11:34 am

Emily, this is a really good post. Similar to you I have been dealing with injuries this year, and for the first few months I really struggled with the idea that to call myself an athlete or a runner I needed to be training at all times for a marathon. I am slowly coming to realize that just exercising and living healthy is the most important thing. Very nice post, very supportive.

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Paige @ The Gravy Boat     at 11:41 am

This is such a great post! I love the blogging world for motivating me to at least attempt to run in the first place, but I can definitely relate to other commenters who said that they felt a bit pressured to do bigger things…and that even some of these huge accomplishments still felt minor if they hadn’t done a marathon.

I love what you said about how much it meant for you to run your first mile. That’s such a huge landmark and I think most of us forget how good it felt.

I definitely agree that the blog world is a fantastic source of inspiration and motivation, but it’s certainly an opportunity for a lesson in not comparing ourselves to others as well.

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KMP     at 11:41 am

Amen! Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but I would also argue that The Biggest Loser Marathon is really more of a 26.2 mile training run than a marathon. The whole “marathon experience” just does not seem the same.

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G     at 11:46 am

Amazing post – thank you for this!

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Karla OConnell     at 11:47 am

BEST. POST. EVER.

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Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate     at 11:54 am

I just recently discovered your blog and after this post, I will definitely continue coming back for more. You are totally right. A lot of times I get discouraged because as of right now, I’m “only” a 5K runner. But why? Considering 3 years ago I hated running and absolutely dreaded hitting the pavement, isn’t that a big accomplishment in itself? I need to quit focusing on the distance so much and realize that when I’m out there running, I don’t want to be anywhere else in the WORLD and that’s all that matters.
Thank you so much for this post. :)

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Beth     at 11:57 am

I TOTALLY agree. You should only run a marathon if its truly what you want to do, otherwise it will be pain and suffering for no reason. I love marathons, but you don’t have to train for and run one to be a runner.

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Bliss     at 12:05 pm

Thanks for this post! I used to run 5-6 days a week, but developed some knee problems that return every time I try to get back into running (even after physical therapy), and I’ve had a difficult time redefining how I view “being in shape” and a good work out. Its especially hard since – as you mentioned – a lot of bloggers run marathons, and my husband got into racing recently. Although I still work out and am probably in better health than when I was running thanks to healthy eating, weight lifting, yoga and other cardio, I have to consciously remind myself every now and then that just because I can’t jump out of bed one day and run 5 miles out of the blue doesn’t mean I’m unhealthy. Thanks for reminding us all!

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Rebecca - Thru Thin and Thick     at 12:06 pm

first time commenter here…

I’m finally coming/realizing what you have said to be true, I’m no more or less than any of the other bloggers out there because I’m unsure of what I want to achieve whether that be a marathon or not.

and re TBL… what I dont understand is how the Dr’s allow them to already run at such heavy weights and the impact that it has on their bones and joints. I can’t imagine it being healthy or safe, long-term.

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Shannon @ Freshman Yr of Life     at 11:24 am

Brilliant. Truly applies to what I’m going through mentally.

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Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete     at 11:27 am

I’ve only run one marathon, so I’m no expert in the subject, but I was thinking the exact same thing when watching the episode yesterday. Training for a marathon takes commitment and CONSiSTENT running for 4 months at least!!! I think it is great that the contestants experience accomplishing something they never thought they would do, but I’m sure they accumulated injuries from that race from lack of training.

Plus, a marathon is so much sweeter when you know you have worked for it for months!

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Gwen     at 12:29 pm

Amen, Emily. I totally agree. Thank you for sharing and reminding me of the value of running. I want to run a second marathon but right now, I really want to get to my goal weight. I know those two plans don’t necessarily walk hand in hand. I want to run for fun! I want to be healthy! Just because I don’t run another marathon in 2011 doesn’t mean I’m not a runner!

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Katy     at 12:29 pm

amazing post. you are a great writer and very inspirational.

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Snehal     at 12:38 pm

Inspiring! And so well written!
I run, but don’t really enjoy it as much as I do the Elliptical. Being able to squeeze in a good read, in the middle of a work day, and get a workout done at the same time is such a bonus. I think running is overrated :-)

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Whitney     at 12:44 pm

TBL does “downplay” the fact that training for a marathon does take proper mileage then what they make it seem like. I believe that they should state in the beginning that the end goal is a marathon and show what steps the contestants have taken to accomplish that goal. I have ran multiple half marathons and have considered training for a full, but have not taken the leap because I know that it takes lots of mileage and a huge time commitment to run it at a decent pace. It would be nice if TBL would convey that somehow. Thanks for your thoughts!

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get proud « girl evolving     at 12:58 pm

[...] a great post and good encouragement, read Emily’s notes on why you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner.  I completely agree.  I also think that you don’t have to be a runner at all – maybe [...]

Christy     at 1:01 pm

Thanks for your post! I struggle with this with triathlons too. People don’t think you are a true athlete unless you can do a full Ironman or a full marathon. I do what I can. It doesn’t make me any less of a person than those that do. In fact I just ran a 1/2 marathon (my first) with a friend and although I could have ran a lot faster than she I stayed with her until the very end. Not many of those other athletes could have say that!

Glad you are healing well!

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angie     at 1:17 pm

I totally agree with you! Love your blog!

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Monique     at 1:32 pm

This post is absolutely amazing. I am a VERY new runner and there is so much pressure to go farther and faster and sometimes I feel like I will never be a “real” runner if I can’t do more. Thank you so much for this post :-)

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Stephanie     at 1:48 pm

I love you! That is all :)

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Katie     at 1:50 pm

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am often inspiried by health blogs, yours included. But sometimes, that nagging negative voice in my head starts to tell me that I’m as good as the bloggers. That I’m not good enough. It takes a real awareness and a commitment to ignore that voice and to realize that striving toward health does not mean reaching perfection. This post spoke to me and blasted that voice. Being the fastest, the most, the best, the farthest runner is not the goal. Being healthy and active and engaged in your own life is the goal. Thanks for the great post.

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey     at 1:51 pm

Great post Emily – you’re so right. Who says you have to be a marathoner to be healthy?: My family always asks when I’m going to do one, and I downright tell them I have no desire to do one!

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Erin     at 2:24 pm

Great post, Emily–and I completely agree with you–about BL, about running marathons, about all of it.

Ever since, as you note, running marathons has become trendy, it really seems like so many people think that running a marathon is the only way to be healthy and active. And, as you explain so beautifully here, it’s certainly not. I hate running–HATE–and have no real desire to train myself to do it (even with promises that I may start to like it). But I love riding my bike, love walking, love Pilates–and not running doesn’t mean I’m not a healthy person.

Thanks–and great job. Beautifully said.

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Megan (Braise The Roof)     at 2:25 pm

Such a wonderful post, Emily. I’m not a marathoner (I don’t have the drive to compete in races at this point in my life) and sometimes it definitely is discouraging to read how “accomplished” other runners/athletes/bloggers are. This post is a breath of fresh air!

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Jenny     at 2:25 pm

thank you for writing this!

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Rebekah     at 2:49 pm

Hi Emily-
I can’t tell you how much your post summed up what I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve never considered myself a runner, in fact, was the last girl running around the gym in high school trying to finish the stupid mile for the Presidential Fitness Test. Over the last year, I’ve really been working on getting more fit and am proud to say I started the Couch to 5K program 9 weeks ago. It wasn’t easy, but every day this week when I go out to run 3o minutes, I am still blown away by the fact that I can do it and that I don’t feel like I’m going to die! :) This is seriously one of my proudest moments, honestly on par with getting my degree. I am running in my first 5K race Saturday and I cannot wait!! Thanks so much for this post!!!

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Sherri     at 3:10 pm

You have a beautiful and inspiring way with words. I ran my first 5k in October. I was kind of embarrassed to mention it to anyone because I would feel like they would say “only a 5k, that’s nothing” but to me and my family it was a huge accomplishment. I am a 42 year old mother of 6 children ages 12-18 and am by no means an athlete. I am actually a very clumsy person but I enjoy running so much. I didn’t run the entire thing but had to do a few walk breaks but I am so proud of myself. I love reading your blog and trying out your recipes and wanted to thank you for putting this whole “athlete” persona in perspective. Thank you so much for this post!!!

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Frena     at 3:32 pm

I’m so confused by this post. Any long term reader has heard you talk about marathon training and complain about it. If it doesnt make you a healthy person or an athlete or whatever it is you said then why do you complain ALL the time about it when yo have a bad run???

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I’m kind of confused by your comment. I think if you go back and read any of my training and running posts, you will find a mix of some bad runs along with many many good runs and successes. I think it’s important to show the bad runs to keep my story honest, and also remind people that every run/race/workout is not always perfect. I would also add that whether you are running 2 miles or 20 miles, everyone has bad days. But there are many more successful run posts than there are “complaints.”

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Laura     at 3:33 pm

As someone who has lost 130 pounds, running a half marathon IS something that I want to do, but not just because I lost the weight. I used to be an athlete, and I wanted to get back to that place in my life. I love running and I 100% couldn’t stop thinking about how the hell they finished that race safely. I’ve been training for my half marathon for 10 weeks, and am on a 16 week plan. I am still losing weight on my plan, so I think that when you are training for a half is it possible (Can’t say that about a full though, that’s a whole different beast!). So while I do admire their dedication, I think the motivation to run any distance comes from inside.

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Carin     at 3:53 pm

Great post — I agree 100%. I’ll never forget when I first began running, I finished 3 miles (a very big deal at the time) at my usual turtle’s pace. Another runner came over to me — a girl I knew regularly ran 5-10 miles daily at a sub-7-minute pace. She beamed at me. “How far’d you go?” “Three miles,” I said in embarrassment, “but it was really slow.” She shook her head. “Don’t ever say that. The only thing that matters is that YOU DID IT.” She was right — and so are you.

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kristen     at 3:55 pm

Thank you so much for saying this. I completely agree. After being overweight for the majority of my life, I finally had the light bulb go off above my head and I was able to lose almost 60 pounds.
I love to workout, and as much as I would LOVE to run, my knees will absolutely not allow me to do it. I’m an avid kickboxer (I actually teach two formats at my gym), I love yoga, the stepmill and I are in a deep love/hate relationship and I lift. I most certainly consider myself an extremely fit, athletic person.
I still try to run every now and again, but it usually a 5K. I celebrate my successes where I can and live vicariously through my blogging friends (well, it may be a one-sided relationship, but that is okay!)

Kristen
Indianapolis

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kristen Reply:

ha- I meant “one-sided” because I’m a reader of blogs…I have not yet mustered the courage to start one of my own.

K

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LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils     at 3:59 pm

What a moving post. Love the last line.

Don’t get me started on all the problems with Biggest Loser, but I definitely agree with your assessment of the marathon. I think it all started because “Jared” was running one and they’re sponsored by Subway.

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Kristin     at 4:01 pm

Great post! Thank you for sharing! I too wish that BL would drop the marathon. “Healthy” takes many forms!

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Page     at 4:27 pm

THANK YOU! This is why I love your blog so much. The marathon on BL is one of the things that constantly bugged me about that show.

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Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker     at 4:44 pm

LLLLLLLLLLLOVE this post!

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Sara     at 4:53 pm

Well I feel silly adding another (probably) similar comment to the already 200 comments but this blog inspired me to leave one. I feel the same way about the Biggest Loser Marathon and I feel like the sentiments you express in this blog are so genuine and so right. I think your words really touched me because I had a similar experience. I felt like a runner, I felt like an athlete, I felt healthy when I could run down the street. And it was that first feeling that even made me want to try a 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, etc.

Thanks for the blog. :)

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Pubsgal     at 4:56 pm

I popped over here from Mary’s blog, and wow, what a great post! Any sport or fitness activity should be something one does because one loves it, not because one feels like they have to do it. A similar thing is happening in triathlon – while I applaud how accessible triathlon events are becoming (welcoming to newbies, events with different distances becoming more readily available), I don’t like that it’s trendy. (Seriously, I saw an article about how, in business circles, triathlon is the new corporate chest-thumping sport, replacing golf. Ugh.)

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Staci     at 5:21 pm

Thank you. This is such an inspiring post. I did a half this year as well as a 25k and I am not what I ever would have considered a runner. But, after those races, I realized that yes I am a runner, darn it! I totally agree, too, that its setting an unrealistic goal for those struggling with obesity.

I’ll stop rambling but I really appreciate your words and your point of view, especially given the fact that you’re a marthon-er yourself. Kudos to you!

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Jordan Wandfluh - Raw Run Relief     at 4:29 pm

I 100% agree with this post. I just ran my first Marathon in October and I didn’t think I was ready after 16 weeks of training! And I was in good shape before I started training. It is unhealthy to make your body endure so much in so little time. It sends a wrong image to many people.

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Jordan Wandfluh - Raw Run Relief     at 4:29 pm

By they way I am glad you wrote this post!

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Ang     at 5:39 pm

I love this post. Why? Because I hate running. Hate how it makes me feel. No runner’s high here. So many people keep insisting that I need to sign up for a race and prove I can do it…well the thousands of other people that run marathons every year prove to me that anyone who trains can do it. I don’t need to torture myself to prove the point! I think people who do run marathons have a lot to be proud of and I truely admire them. I just think it is refreshing to have a runner say that people don’t have to run to be healthy!

BTW…I disagree with a lot of things on The Biggest Loser. This rushing into a marathon just adds to my list!

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Clare @ Fitting It All In     at 5:59 pm

Fantastic post.
I signed up for my first half marathon as motivation to get healthy and it worked. And now I love race training and the pride I get from completing a long run.
I just started training for a full marathon, and I really hope I’m doing it for the right reasons. But as you said, with marathons being so trendy lately it can be hard to tell.

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Emily     at 6:11 pm

Emily, thank you so very much for this post; you have no idea how bad I have been struggling with this lately. It seems like every where I go and everyone I talk to is training for a half or full marathon. I have been busting my butt at running for almost a year now and have still not hit the 10k mark. Some days it makes me feel defective and useless; how can all these people run marathons and I can barely run 6 miles? Even recently my boyfriend “picked up running again” and he’s suddenly talking about training for a marathon in the spring. It kills me because I feel strong and athletic but it sort of feels like that is the marker of a true athlete. When I was in highschool I was always a sprinter, never a distance runner, and I was good! I have lost that feeling of success though through reading blogs and talking to so many distance runner.
After that long ramble I want to just say though that I really thank you so much for putting this out there. I am finally starting to realize that being a runner is not the end all be all…it’s being strong, healthy, and most importantly happy with yourself :) Keep doing what you’re doing so long as you love it!

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Kristy     at 6:30 pm

OBSESSED with this post. You couldn’t have said it any better. Love your blog!!

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Shannon     at 6:43 pm

I love this post! I couldn’t agree with you more!

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elaine!     at 6:54 pm

I don’t even know how to say how much I agree with your post! Every part, from how grateful I am that I can run a single mile to how counter-intuitive it is to marathon for weight loss.

That said, I’m hoping to run my first marathon next May… but I want to do it for the experience, and for the knowledge that I can set and achieve incredible things — not because I feel like it’s the only way to get healthy. And I don’t have any expectations of becoming a serial marathonner.

Honestly, to lost body fat I think I’d be much better off doing weights and interval training.

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elaine!     at 6:55 pm

PS Races that end on a sandy beach SUCK. Running through loose sand is horrible!!!

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Dawn     at 7:14 pm

Your last lines made me tear up! You are so spot on about the BL marathon AND about individual success in fitness.

I love your blog! Thank you!

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Miava     at 9:34 pm

I started following your blog about 2 weeks before the Tahoe accident. I read it almost everyday and have never commented until now: I loved the post. And I loved your chili pumpkin bowls. You have a way of cheering me up, and your food is great and not difficult. Thanks!

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Elizabeth Jarrard     at 10:08 pm

as a marathoner and lover of that distance, i 100% agree that you do not have to run a marathon to be healthy!! I think people look up to me a little bit too much in awe. I try to reassure them that every little step counts and makes a difference! thanks for the great post!

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healthy ashley     at 1:01 am

Awesome, awesome post!

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Susan     at 3:18 am

I agree that you don’t need to run a marathon to be healthy. I do endurance events to challenge myself.

From things I’ve read, TBL contestants train for longer than 4 weeks for the marathon. It’s the show’s fault for making it seem like they only train for a month. They may have been informed for the cameras 30 days before the run, but I’ll bet they know way before that they’ll be running a marathon if they make it to the end. It’s reality tv…it’s supposed to be dramatic.

I don’t think you can knock the effect the non-run training has, either. My boyfriend ran a marathon in just over 4 hours with his longest training run being 15 miles. But he was also doing a lot of cardio and weights during his training period. His recovery time wasn’t any longer than normal.

My problem with the show isn’t the marathon, it’s the weight-loss in general. I don’t believe your body is meant to lose that much weight in such a short period of time. Do the contestants get counseling to figure out how it is they gained so much weight in the first place? (I don’t watch the show enough to know.) There’s a reason people eat that much and don’t exercise. And I don’t think that 4 months (or however long it is) on TBL and finishing a marathon is going to get to the root of the problem. Just look at the people from past seasons who have gained weight back.

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Nelle @ Living Cliche     at 7:48 am

What a great post (obviously, judging by the 200+ positive comments)… and I don’t run. Not at all. Not one teeny tiny bit. For people who try to guilt me into doing it, I blame my family history of bad knees.

I’m a thin person, I’m a healthy vegetarian, and I’m active. I like to go on hikes and casual bike rides and snowboard… But I don’t consciously exercise. It’s one of those things that has, all my life, been impossible for me to enjoy. But I still love your blog and have the utmost respect for people who can run and go to the gym. Even if I totally don’t get it.

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Two-a-days « Marci Gilbert's Blog     at 8:07 am

[...] can be fit and healthy without running a marathon. And they train for it all wrong. Read her post here. I love [...]

Five for Friday     at 9:31 am

[...] You Don’t Have to Run a Marathon via The Front [...]

Lauren     at 10:29 am

I know by this point I’m just echoing the crowd, but I just have to say that I can’t even tell you how much I love this post. As I expressed on Twitter the other day, I completely agree with you here.

I do not want to take away anything from any of the contestants — regardless of my opinions about the whole thing, running (or walking) a marathon is still a huge accomplishment that should be recognized. That being said, I do find fault with the show itself. Not only do they not give an accurate portrayal of what training for a marathon really takes, but they also pay NO attention to the other huge aspect — fueling!! Instead, they show people who are aiming to lose huge amounts of weight doing so by running for hours…without one mention of needing extra calories or fueling along the way. Every time they pan to one of the contestants running, they have no water or anything. I fear this gives a dangerously skewed perception about marathon training. I’m sure the show doesn’t want to put the contestants in danger and so closely monitors them, but I wish they would TALK about fueling and the fact that you need to take in calories when you’re running for that long (even if you’re trying to lose weight). And I hate that it sort of stigmatizes those contestants (like Darus and Ada) who talk about suddenly eating more. They make it seem like it’s because the contestant is having a hard time finding balance but come on! These guys are expected to keep up their same weight/gym routine AND train for a marathon. No wonder they’re hungrier!

I also think you make an excellent point about not having to run a marathon to be healthy. This is actually something I’ve been wanting to address for a long time now, because marathons have become so mainstream. I’m glad more people are motivated to train for and complete a marathon…but I think it’s sad when people do so because they feel the social pressure that they need to do it for some reason.

Anyway, I think this post is beautifully written and the point super important. So thank you!!

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Charise     at 10:49 am

I love this post! I am NOT a runner. I do not enjoy the act of running, my knees do not enjoy me running, and my crazy appetite post-running means it is harder for me to lose weight. Sometimes I have to remind myself that THAT IS OK – that I have more success being healthy in other ways – other cardio, weights, yoga, eating good-for-me foods. Thank you for pointing that out in such a beautiful way.

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Tracey     at 11:25 am

I absolutely LOVE this post!! I completely agree with you on this topic and feel similarly about the Biggest Loser. However, I have fallen into the trap of feeling like I am not ever doing enough and it’s hard to consider myself a runner at 4 miles when I see so many people around me running longer distances. Thanks for this post!

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www.theevolvinghomemaker.com     at 12:20 pm

I am totally behind on blogs this week! THANKS for this! As someone who has repeatedly tried to be a ‘runner’ only to end each effort in some sort of injury, I often find myself comparing to the athletes around me! I live in Colorado. Everyone and their mother is a runner. I feel like such a wanna be in the running store! BUT you are right, as I muscle past some IT band issues now at only 2.5 miles/day, I still am a runner. And it is finally starting to feel good to my mind…even if not always my body!

:)
Jen

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lindsay     at 12:41 pm

When did you really start running?
What was your first race?
What was you mile pace at the beginning?
What is your mile pace now?

I love your blog, i use the internet to learn about running (along with my best friend, he is a XC-coach) and people like you inspire me to live a healthy lifestyle….with everything in moderation!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Hi Lindsay! To answer your questions…

1. I started running in August 2007.
2. First race was Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in September 2007.
3. Mile pace at the beginning was a little over 10 minute miles (I think my first 5k time was around 32 minutes)
4. My pace NOW is around a 9:30 because I’m recovering from some injuries from a car accident. My natural pace though when I’m in my “normal” shape is more like 8:30. My best race PR’s are listed on the side bar of the blog!

Glad you like it. :)

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Tyly     at 12:51 pm

What an amazing post!!!

It is so well written and very moving. Thank you!!!

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Melissa     at 1:14 pm

What a great post. I have a friend who claims he will absolutely NOT run because once he starts, he doesn’t want to have to “hear it” from every one of our friends who will then start pushing him to run races every weekend. He actually has a small group of friends who have started “running in secret” because they don’t want the pressure from others once the word is out that they are runners.

A lot of people (unfortunately, probably myself included) find such joy in running that they want everyone to experience it! But in doing so, it can be smothering to someone who is new at it or who does not want to do it.

This post is a wonderful reminder of why not to be pushy – even if it’s for a great thing like running.

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Just Move | A Better Me     at 1:22 pm

[...] another side note, Emily did an awesome post about running! Please read it when you get a minute. Especially if you think you “I could never run a long [...]

Courtney     at 3:56 pm

I don’t really agree with all of the things you said about the Biggest Loser. We really don’t know how well trained they are. They do a lot of running on the ranch. I think the purpose of the marathon in the show is more of showing the contestants they can do anything they set their mind to, not necessarily strictly for weight loss. It’s a huge accomplishment.

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Emily Malone Reply:

I agree with you that I like the message of “you can do anything – even a marathon.” But the day after the marathon, the group weighs in to see who lost enough weight to earn a spot in the season finale, so they ARE equating marathoning with weight loss, which is a dangerous message to promote. They also don’t show the contestants eat or drink a single thing during the run. That said, I still watch it…

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Nancy     at 4:00 pm

I really appreciate this entry. A lot. Thanks for writing it!

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Lauren     at 4:56 pm

A friend emailed me your blog today after reading my blog post of the day — Thanks for a great post. You’ve given me an incredible amount (more) to think about.

And I’m adding you to my blog roll. — Lauren

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Lauren! Glad you found it. :)

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Danielle     at 5:29 pm

Thank you Emily!

I have a similarly weird feeling about marathons that I have a hard time explaining to people. I can’t stand how they are used for weight loss or to prove something to others. You’re right…you’re a runner whether you can run one mile or 26.2 miles. I also find it disrespectful to the sport to be used for weight loss.

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Juli D.     at 7:13 pm

THANK-YOU. Now please go tell everyone else that keeps telling me to run a marathon to shut the H up. The longest I ever have and want to do is a 25K, but people don’t seem to get that. I like the challenge of running fast, not long. Tempo runs and intervals make me feel alive, long runs make me want to set myself on fire. Yet somehow my goal of running a sub-20 5K seems lame as shit to everyone else that thinks a marathon is the only running goal. So THANK-YOU for your endorsement and hopefully the world will someday understand.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Haha Julie you are awesome. Casey and I were actually talking about that yesterday. People seem to only grasp mileage goals, not time goals. I think it’s awesome to just pick a distance and focus on getting FASTER. And a sub-20 5k is completely badass. (Also laughed out loud at your “set myself on fire” comment!) :)

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Melissa Reply:

I’d rather slog along for 26.2 for 4:30-5:00 than ever run a 5K that quickly. I’m in AWE of anyone who can run fast. I’m a slow-twitch gal and I’m all about steady distance. You fast-twitch folks impress the hell out of me – I’d NEVER say you’re not an incredible runner. Some are sprinters, some are endurance. I’d hope sprinters wouldn’t look down on a moderate marathoner either. Both are AMAZING feats.

Good luck on your sub 20! My PR is 27 min and I thought that was crazy fast for me. LOL.

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie     at 9:54 pm

It’s SO hard not to be affected by the mileage of other runners. I totally agree about the Biggest Loser contestants running a marathon. It’s so unrealistic that they have them train in such a short amount of time.

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Cynthia     at 3:55 am

Honestly, I am one of those folks who may never be able to run even a single mile. I cannot run so much as a couple steps without severe pain.

I have a history of MANY ankle sprains from childhood as well as a ripped up cartilage in my right knee from a bicycle accident. Also a history of plantar fasciitis and I even suffered a simultaneous sprain of both ankles and my left foot in college.

Even as a child, there was an incident where if I ran, an ankle would just give out and I’d fall down. Doctors couldn’t diagnose it, they just had me NOT run for six months.

I don’t think everyone is a candidate for running, period. Maybe, maybe if I lose the weight I could run a mile. But given I had issues as a child when I was not particularly overweight, at age 53, I’m not counting on being able to run.

Doesn’t mean I can’t walk. I can manage a mile walk. On a good ankle day, sometimes two miles, though usually not all at once.

I like your post! It’s a good thing I don’t have to run a marathon. I don’t WANT to. I would, however, like to walk a 5K. I’m hoping I can manage that in 2011. I walked my first mile race just this fall. It was painful, but I was glad I did it and glad that such a race was offered.

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Emma     at 10:46 am

this is such a great post!

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Sarah p     at 12:26 pm

Thanks for this post. I’m new to running- since June- but I am so into it. I’ve often discounted my achievements because they haven’t seemed big enough. Now I can proudly say- I am a runner.

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Sarah     at 10:40 pm

I just ran my first full mile a little over a week ago. It was amazing! I called my parents right away to brag about the big defeat. My dad and I just ran our first 5K over Thanksgiving, and my parents have supported me through all my running/life goals. Today I tackled mile 2 and couldn’t feel happier about it.

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Jessica     at 11:33 am

The furthest I’ve run (for a race) is a 5k, and I’m trying desperately to break the 5 mile mark. Sometimes I beat myself up, and think my distances “just aren’t far enough.” Or I’ll think I have to PR every race. All that pressure is self-inflicted. I have to remind myself that I never even ran the mile in high school because of health problem, and now I’m running and running 5ks! Thank you for this post. We all need to remember that this fitness journey is all about being healthy and happy. We can’t all be marathon runners, and a runner’s distance is not a measure of their health.

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Kim Ruley     at 1:33 pm

I finished with one of my slowest ever times yesterday (43:20) for a 5K. I’ve been beating myself up since my best time was just over 37 minutes in may. Still slow, but I’m still doing it.

After reading this, I had to tell myself, “Kim, you were diagnosed with pneumonia August 18th. You’ve now completed two 5Ks since then. You will continue to get better.” My right lung was extremely full of grossness, and I had Mono at the same time as pneumonia. I was out of commission for 3+ weeks with the illnesses, and that doesn’t even cover “recovery” time that I’m still going through…

THANK YOU for this blog. For making me realize that I don’t have to be the fastest, and that it all takes time. I couldn’t have read this at a better time.

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Emily Malone Reply:

It may not have been the time you wanted, but you still ran a 5k – something to be VERY proud of!

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Rebecca Craig     at 2:06 pm

As someone struggling to learn to run, you are one of the inspirational writers I have read! Thanks!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Rebecca – that means a lot. :)

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Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul     at 4:20 pm

Emily, this is probably my favorite post I’ve read on the Front Burner (though have learned a ton about things like quinoa and spaghetti squash as well!). But I want to thank you, someone who many, many people look up to as a role model for health, for saying loudly that a marathon is not necessary nor always the best idea for a person striving for health. I think it’s easy to get caught up in that belief system in reading about all the accomplishments of various bloggers. I would like to run a marathon someday, but I know that it will be something I do to challenge myself in new ways and because I love running. It won’t be a means to an end (i.e. weight loss).

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Jaime     at 5:14 pm

I’d like to add that even if you want to do a marathon you don’t have to run it. I recently did a marathon and a half for breast cancer and walked the entire thing. It was still the biggest accomplishment of my life and I wouldn’t dream of downplaying it just because I walked it. :)

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Shanan     at 5:45 pm

I consider myself to be an athlete. I weight train 5-6 times per week and love bodybuilding. I always wanted to be a true runner (you know someone that was a natural at running) but I’ve come realize that’s just not ever going to be me. My pelvis is crooked and I have a lot of problems with my right leg as a result of this. However, I ran my first 5K yesterday and managed to run the entire thing. It was such a feeling of accomplishment when I crossed that line. Though, it wasn’t the fastest run (I placed 10th in my age division) it taught me that I should never say I can’t do something and I should challenge myself. I plan on running a few more 5Ks before I raise the bar and shot for a little farther distance.

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Melissa     at 6:59 pm

As a former fat girl (lost 60lbs, developed a love of running while doing it! In maintenance over a year now.) and a very fledgling marathon, I loved this.

I ran my first in Oct. with number two next Sunday. It was a huge deal to do that mileage and I loved the long runs. How I felt strong and capable and fit and totally alive afterwards.

That said, the last lines of this blog made me cry. Exactly. EXACTLY.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Good luck on your second marathon – how exciting!! :)

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Robert     at 7:34 pm

Really good perspective and it helps me. I can not run for several reasons (not even walk over 3mph) and it has made it difficult to loose. The things I do however make me feel good. I hate feeling guilty. Thanks for taking that away

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Emily Malone Reply:

Sounds like you have a great attitude. Guilt is paralyzing – don’t even give it a minute of your time.

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jen     at 11:42 pm

thank you for the great post. i used to love the biggest loser but lost a ton of respect for the show when they started making them do the marathon. i have been a runner for over 5 years. i have yet to tackle the marathon distance because i know how much commitment it truly takes. i agree with your first mile thought. that really hit home.

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Alexia     at 11:50 pm

Thanks for your view point.

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Laura     at 7:42 am

Fantastic post! You’re right, it does seem that nowadays there are marathoners around every corner. And I have a number of friends that are trying to tone up or lose weight that say “I hate running, but I have to lose weight”.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Exactly, it’s so important to find the activity that motivates you and gets you excited to workout.

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Melisa     at 11:43 am

WOW! is all I can say. YOU have summed up the feelings of so many people. I have only just returned to running via a C25K program. When I ran before, I can still remember the morning I clocked my first mile @ 10 minutes. I was 35. It was in March, and it was cold. I couldn’t run that in Jr High for the timed mile (my teacher stopped timing me @ 12 min and I hadn’t finished yet!). I will definately be following this blog. SO glad this is the first post I’ve read here.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Welcome Melisa! Thanks :)

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Do what you’re good at? « This Runner's Trials     at 12:00 pm

[...] Don’t get me wrong. Now that my stomach issues are figured out, I have high hopes of shattering my marathon PR. And a bunch of my blog friends are running it too, so the camaraderie cannot be beat. But like a wise woman said, “you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner”. [...]

Maddie     at 12:23 pm

I know I’m a few days behind on commenting on this, but I wasn’t caught up on BL until this weekend and I was afraid the post might give something away, so I put off reading it until now.

But I have to say THANK YOU. So very much. I am mid weight loss myself and have been thinking about this dilemma for a while. I feel as though the marathon has become THE accomplishment. If you’ve lost weight, you should prove your new healthy life with running a marathon. But I don’t want to run that much. I like it enough…enough to feel that 5ks are my race, but I can do that now, so that doesn’t feel like a good enough goal to “prove my health” to myself and others. I am SO SO glad to hear someone say that it’s NOT all about running and marathoning. I truly appreciate it and feel a lot better about the fact that I will most likely never run a marathon in my life. I think I’ll work on doing a triathlon instead and keep enjoying my 5ks :)

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Maddie! Congrats on the 5ks – that is awesome! :)

[Reply]

E.     at 2:00 pm

Thank you! Thank You! Thank You! It was good to hear this perspective from a runner.

[Reply]

zoe (and the beatles)     at 4:13 pm

i really love this post. it is inspirational on so many levels and so well written. that being said, i really do not like how you ended it. instead of calling yourself the “fat girl”, i really wish you simply wrote “unhealthy girl”. not every person our society deems physically overweight is necessarily “fat”. i don’t know, just something to think about.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I see your point. To me, it was the first time I didnt feel “fat” – and I guess that’s why I worded it the way I did. I felt so fat for so long, and finally I felt good about myself. It was more of a personal reflection than a bigger statement. Thanks for pointing that out!

[Reply]

Thomas Powell     at 4:30 pm

I feel like “The Biggest Loser” is the “Fear Factor” of weight loss.

I was almost okay with people seeking attention and a quick buck being exploited for ratings, but I really feel that people that are legitimately in despair are being used under the pretext of offering them hope.

I’ve had weight issues in the past. The tools for a healthier life can be external, but the motivation for permanent change comes from within.

[Reply]

Wendy     at 5:39 pm

I have run 2 5k races after having lost over 220 pounds (since 2007). I started running last April after walking stopped being effective (i.e., my heart rate wasn’t going up high enough, even on long walks, even walking briskly; I wasn’t breaking a sweat!). Now, I run 5k 3x a week and I feel GREAT after running. (Still working on LIKING it – LOL!) I hope to train for a 10k next spring, but am still wary of running a marathon. Maybe some day, but right now I’m wary b/c I don’t know if I want to put my body through that kind of training and grueling workout. I’m 44, so I’m certainly capable, but right now I’m pretty happy with being able to run 5k. Thanks for this down-to-earth blog (and BTW, I still like watching The Biggest Loser, b/c I know that their marathon running is a big milestone for them – whether or not they win from having lost the most weight – it’s proof that they have come a long way towards accomplishing their goal of being HEALTHY).

[Reply]

Brie Fit | The Ideal Workout Week     at 9:30 pm

[...] awesome?  This post about why you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner (and a generally valid person).   Sure, I’m glad I ran a marathon, but I [...]

Michele     at 11:07 pm

What a wonderful post. I have recently began walking again, and my goal is 2.5-3 miles per walk. I run a little, but can only dream of running 1 mile without stopping. But maybe someday… I enjoy the Biggest Loser but agree with you that it is so UNREALISTIC for the average person to exercise so excessively, lose so much weight, and change their lifestyle in such a short amount of time – much less run marathons in a healthy way.

[Reply]

Amy Ramos     at 1:23 am

I love you (ok, not in a creepy way!).
Thank you for this post. I ran a half marathon (my first and probably only) in October and I felt so defeated b/c a)I do not look like the “typical” runner…I could lose about 50 lbs, b)I did not get the time I hoped and c)I did not run as fast as my friends (one ran a sub 2 hr half) and yet he is the one hates running?!?! Go figure.
I plan to do more local 5k and 10K’s b/c I enjoy them and I do like to run (in addition to many other activities).
I know I am a runner but seeing this post confirms it.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Congrats on your races, and on finding out what works best for you. :)

[Reply]

Melissa, Oh?     at 12:57 pm

[...] read this blog post a few days ago and it reminded me of all of this. This marathoner makes a very good case for why [...]

Margot     at 5:19 pm

You are so absolutely amazing. Your thoughts are so genuine and make me (a 5K runner) feel awesome. Thank you so much for sharing – you truly have an incredibly head on your shoulders.

All the best,
~M~

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Wow – thanks Margot! That made me smile. :)

[Reply]

Kristi     at 5:26 pm

This post was wonderful and is exactly what I needed today. I’m constantly inspired by runners who have achieved goals of running long distances, but am stuck with the fact that I have not yet run that one mile. It is wonderful to see that someone who has achieved as much as you still counts that first mile as her proudest running moment. Thanks for helping me to focus on the short term goal, instead of being overwhelmed by the end game.

[Reply]

David Schaewe     at 2:21 pm

I realize this is late but after going online to get my brother a Runners World subscription for Christmas and seeing this article on the Biggest Loser marathon.
http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-243-297–13783-0,00.html I felt I ahd to respond.

Thank you for speaking up on this and reinforcing that although my brother is running his 1st marathon in 2011. (The Flying Pig and I will cheer him on!) What I am doing for exercise is just as important and improving my health.

[Reply]

Kate     at 12:03 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I just started running this summer and I have completed 2 5K, a five-miler, a 10K and a ten-miler this year. I am also already signed up for 4 races in 2011 ranging from a 5K to a 1/2 marathon.

Despite all of this, I used to feel like I wasn’t a “real” runner for two reasons. 1) I take walk breaks sometimes and 2) I am not sure I will ever run a marathon because I just don’t think I want to. I know this might change in the future, but for now, 26.2 miles just doesn’t sound fun to me. I let these two things get to me, especially the fact that I didn’t see myself running a full marathon.

thankfully, I have a very supportive boyfriend who reminded me that less than a year ago, I could not even run on city block and this past weekend I ran 6.2 miles without needing to take a walk break and shave 30 seconds off my average pace! So, yea…I am a real runner and I am well on my way to becoming the healthy person I want to be every time I put on my sneakers!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

You sound like a runner to ME! :)

[Reply]

Jaime     at 5:19 pm

All I want to say is that I love this post. One of the things that keeps me coming back to your blog is your big, beautiful heart.

[Reply]

A Lunch Date. | Daily Garnish     at 10:11 pm

[...] to make sure that I’m not overly censoring myself either.  Some of my favorite posts (like this one, or this one, and as recently as yesterday – this one) have naturally come to me when I shut out [...]

Rilo     at 9:33 pm

Motivational and amazing! I’m working towards a 5 km then going to work towards a 10 km.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Good luck on your races!!

[Reply]

Angela     at 3:19 am

I’m a BL fan, regardless of the pressure to lose huge amounts of weight so fast.. The contestants are morbidly obese. With proper supervision, which is built into their BL program, they are able to achieve these amazing feats in order to stay alive. Of course the typical person shouldn’t work out to the same extent.. How many of us are 400+ pounds?

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I’m actually a BL fan too – I like the show, and I find their weight loss stories very inspiring. But I do hate the “marathon” episode that they do now as part of the finale. I think it is unrealistic and unnecessary.

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Jennifer     at 12:17 am

I don’t know how I missed this post. But it really spoke to me. I have tried to run. I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t even like to walk on a treadmill. But I have also had the thoughts that maybe I wasn’t healthy until I was able to run a 5k.

Thank you for this post!

[Reply]

Krystina     at 12:34 am

thank you for this post. i needed that inspiration. i always feel like i’m not a real runner because i have never done a marathon. i’m training for my first half marathon, and even though i’m really excited, i somehow feel like only doing half is a cop out. i know that it’s me fighting against myself, but i really do want to thank you for this post.

[Reply]

Dana     at 8:33 pm

I love your post! I started running & losing weight back in June and just started watching Biggest Loser a few weeks ago. I agree with you… that first MILE of real running made me feel like a runner! And, I worry about the BL folks who are rushed into running a marathon.

I just placed 93rd out of 98 for my first 10K… and I’m PROUD! I met my highest goal for myself! (My ‘dream’ goal was to finish in under 1:15, and I did it!) And, though it is almost embarrasing to finish so far back (as they are taking down the water tables along the way and one of those who finished behind me was only 7), I DID push myself hard and I trained hard and I am proud of what I accomplished!

Thanks for a terrific post!

[Reply]

Elena     at 2:23 pm

I have to say, reading yet another blogger who so inspires me say that one of their proudest running moments was their first complete mile REALLY makes me want to get out running again! Where are those VFFs….

[Reply]

Kristen     at 9:56 pm

I know this is really late, but I just read this (not sure how I haven’t read this post yet) and just wanted to say that although I’ve felt really proud at the end of the half-marathons I’ve run, I still remember how great it felt to finish that first 3 mile training run. The first time I ran 3 miles I really felt like I was “a runner”. You definitely don’t have to run a marathon. :)

[Reply]

Amy     at 9:56 pm

I just recently found your blog through KERF, and this was by far one of the best running posts I’ve ever read.

[Reply]

Paul     at 2:58 am

wow. very nice article. you embody the very thinking or a runner. i’m a runner too and i agree 100% in all of your opinion on this. great!

[Reply]

Brooke     at 8:32 pm

Thank you for writing this post. I have a new passion for health and fitness and am just trying to encourage people to get out and be active. I 200% agree that you do not have to run a marathon to feel like you are a runner. 10 weeks ago I began my fitness journey and am hooked now. Just this week I RAN a full 5k during my lunch work break and now feel like I am a runner again. I ran cross country and track successfully way back in college and felt I lost that runner in me. I am a bit older now and definetly a different body and didnt feel I could be that runner again.

thank you for encouraging others!

[Reply]

Katy (The Singing Runner)     at 1:10 pm

I’ve already commented on this post many months ago, but I needed to comment again.

I revisit this post every so often when I need a pick me up.

I am currently battling my second major injury of the year. In the spring, I was sidelined from running for 6 weeks due to a shin splint. I had just finished running my first half-marathon and training for 2 more. Due to all the time off, I was unable to run those half’s.

Then I got back running and started training for the Chicago Marathon, my first marathon. Training was going well- I was gradually increasing my mileage from my injury, cross-training more, and taking note of whenever “something didn’t feel right.” 20 weeks after I started running again from my spring injury, out of the blue, my ankle started KILLING me after a 14 mile (a PDR) training run.

I have ran *maybe* a total of 20 miles since July 15th. I have been sidelined again with a stress fracture. I am in physical therapy and doing underwater running. I have also taken up cycling, but it is no replacement for running.

My problem was that I did too much too soon. I felt that I was not doing enough…a half marathon was not enough…I had to go for a marathon, even though everything in my brain was telling me not to.

Now I would kill to be able to run a mile outside without any pain.

I do not know when I will be able to run again, but I know that I do not want to rush back into running once I can again. I’m going to focus on the 10K and half-marathon distance and I am going to start “tri-ing” my hand at triathlons.

Maybe I will run a marathon one day… maybe not. The important thing for me is to just run. And to never again take it for granted. :)

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Katy!! I am so sorry to hear about your injury – that sounds so frustrating. I am obviously sidelined now for different reasons, but the time off has definitely given me plenty of time to think about how I want my return to running to feel.

[Reply]

Karen     at 7:30 am

“It didn’t take 26.2 miles for me to feel like a real runner – it only took one.”
Wow- wonderful post! I remember how great I felt when I ran my first mile without stopping as well :-D

[Reply]

Christina     at 1:00 pm

This is the best health and fitness blog post I have ever read. I love it and am emailing it to dozens of people right now!

[Reply]

Brittany     at 2:54 pm

I just started reading your blog a few days ago and stumbled on this post…it actually made me tear up!! Everything you say here is so true! I also enjoy all aspects of running and sometimes get caught up in the thinking that if I only run 3-5 miles a day during the week that that is ” not good enough.”. It is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing instead of focusing on what works for you. And the story about the moment when you ran your first mile takes me back to that moment for myself. A runner who runs 3 miles is no less of a runner who runs 26.2 miles. Thank you for bringing light to this subject!!

[Reply]

26.2 (or No Marathon For Me) | Finding My Inner Bombshell     at 8:04 am

[...] then one day, I came across this post on Daily Garnish. And it made me realize that it doesn’t matter if I never get to do a marathon one day. That [...]

Is Running Really All That Great? | Eat, Pray, Lift     at 8:21 am

[...] “You Don’t Have to Run a Marathon” from Daily Garnish –> truly fantastic post that I have gone back to and reread more than once (and while I reread books all the time, I rarely reread a blog post) [...]

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