about me

    Emily Malone

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

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

    For partnerships, contact: dailygarnishads@mediakix.com.

    Looking forward to chatting with you!


    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    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.

(image source)

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…


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…


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. 


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. 


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. 


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…


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


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.


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

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328 Comments so far
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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.


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!


Emily Malone Reply:

You sound like a runner to ME! :)


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.


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.


Emily Malone Reply:

Good luck on your races!!


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?


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.


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!


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.


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!


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….


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. :)


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.


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!


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!


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. :)


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.


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


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!


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!!


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) […]

ครีมหน้าใส     at 9:27 pm

Asking questions are truly good thing if you are not understanding anything fully,
however this piece of writing offers nice understanding even.


Jaclyn     at 4:06 am

Thank you so much for coming out and saying this. Everything was spot on.


Is Running Really All That Great? | Maggie Gets Real     at 8:59 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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