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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Training Log: My first run

January 10, 2018

Here goes nothing.

If you happened to read Jo’s end of year post a few weeks ago, you might have noticed her casual mention of an upcoming activity that could very well do me in—I’ll be running my first marathon. A full marathon—all 26.2 miles of it.

Monday was my first official day of training, and all I can really say is—that hurt. We set a modest goal of 1.7 miles for my first run. You’re probably wondering why we chose such an odd distance. Well, as I work toward this goal of 26.2 miles, the only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I can run .2 miles. So for every run on my training schedule, I’ll be tacking on that extra .2—kind of as a catalyst to remind me that it all starts with the small stuff. I have to remember that no matter what, I can always run .2 further than I think I can. And when race day comes, all I’ll be focused on is the first .2, then the next, and so on.

I was thinking I could handle this 1.7 mile run no problem. It’s a far cry from a full marathon, but you gotta start somewhere, right? I’d been looking forward to my first run for weeks, and every time I imagined it in my mind, I looked strong, my breathing was steady, and I remained fully upright the entire time. Honestly, I thought it would be a piece of cake.

But it wasn’t. Turns out I would have been better off running to the mailbox and back because by the time I rounded the first mile mark, I was gasping for air and it took everything I had not to keel over right there.

I started to wonder if this was a bad idea after all.

Some of you might be feeling a little blindsided, because you (wrongly) assumed that behind the Chip Gaines you know, there’s this super-fit guy who goes on long-distance runs in his spare time. But don’t be fooled—I haven’t “gone on a run” since college. In fact, I’ve always thought that folks who ran marathons were a little crazy. Certainly talented, but also batty. I mean, who runs that kind of distance at one time, willingly? But there was a part of me that always thought: Bet I could do that.

Then, a few months ago I was in New York City with Jo, and I happened to meet Gabriele Grunewald (Gabe) as she was running through Central Park. She clearly knew what she was doing, so I got to talking with her and it turns out, she is actually a professional runner. I asked her how long it would take for an average guy like me to train for a marathon, and she convinced me that with some old-fashioned hard work I could be ready by the beginning of summer.

Come to find out, back in 2009 Gabe was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC), a rare form of cancer—so rare that it only occurs in 3.5 out of every one million cancer patients. But from what I can tell, this young lady hasn’t let her diagnosis or treatment slow her down for a minute.

After hearing Gabe’s story, I realized two things: I didn’t want to spend another second standing on the sidelines, and secondly, given what she’s gone through, I didn’t have any excuse not to give this a shot. So I committed. Good news for me is that Gabe has agreed to train me all the way from her home state of Minnesota. (Check her out on Twitter: @gg_runs. She is absolutely amazing, and her story might just change your life as it has mine).

I guess after all the big talking I did in my book last year, it’s about time I take my own advice:

“Getting started is equally as triumphant as crossing the finish line. Your goal is too far off to have a straight line of sight to it, but I’m going to need you to keep it firmly fixed in your mind’s eye. The only way this is going to work, the only way that you’re gonna get there, is one foot in front of the other. You have to keep moving forward. And when you think you are about to die — trust me, it’s just a tiny bit further.”

Unfortunately in this particular scenario, it’s a whole lot further. But even so, this couldn’t ring truer for me after Monday’s run. There’s no doubt that I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line, but every day of training up until then is something to be proud of—because I’m making it happen! And 26.2 doesn’t sound so long when you think of it like 2.62 x 10. That somehow sounds doable.

If you’re reading this, I want you to know that as I’m chasing after this goal of mine, I’m also cheering you on toward whatever dream you’ve been secretly scheming. For those of you who, like me, have always dreamed of running a race, but have never taken that first step or even said it out loud—let’s tackle this thing together! Listen to me—you can’t lose unless you don’t try. We’ll be hosting a marathon right here in Waco, Texas in early May of this year. We’ll also have a 5K and a half marathon, so there will be something for everyone. Choose a race that challenges you.

So start training. Why not start tomorrow?


Join me on this crazy journey by following me on Twitter. I’ll be chronicling my training there regularly. (@chipgaines). And Magnolia will be releasing more info about the marathon really soon. See you down the road!


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  • Kathleen Booth
    6:33 pm, January 21, 2018
    Ha ha this reminds me of myself! I always said the only reason to run was if something was chasing you, but the year I turned 40, I got it in my head that I needed to check "run a marathon" off of my bucket list. I started training in January with a friend and that October, ran the Marine Corps Marathon (my first and ONLY marathon) the week I turned 40). Best decision I ever made and it made turning 40 feel like the best thing ever. My only advice? Find friends and supporters to train with you. I joined a training program for first time marathoners called "Moore's Marines" here in Annapolis. All of us were tackling our first 26.2 and it was some incredible camaraderie. Not only did we train together - we also ran (or at least started) the marathon together. To join that program, I had to be able to run 8 miles, so before I joined I enlisted a friend who was a more seasoned running to help me through miles 1 through 8. That same friend eventually came out the day of the Marine Corps Marathon (which, by the way, is an AWESOME marathon for first timers) and ran miles 21 through 26 with me. Thank goodness she did because it would have been very easy to quit without her. Anyway, good on you for taking on this challenge. Its a wonderful feeling for conquering the obstacles we build in our own minds and bodies.
  • Sandy Kreuz
    2:06 pm, January 21, 2018
    I’m so excited to be coming to Waco the first weekend in May and hope ( and pray) that your race will be THAT weekend 🙏🏼 I’d love to join in on a part of your cause. Run strong!
  • Cindy deBoer Brown
    12:53 pm, January 21, 2018
    Way to help America as well as yourself become healthier Chip. Thank you! Blessings to you and your family
  • Kasandra
    10:52 am, January 21, 2018
    Way to go Chip. Hope you had a full physical before commencing this goal!
  • Wendy Crider
    1:25 am, January 21, 2018
    More power to ya. I have run one half marathon ( Mercedes) about 5 years ago. Every year since I felt guilty that I didn’t attempt to run it again. Last year I started having problems with my knee and found out I had torn my meniscus. After having surgery in March and physical therapy I started running this past summer and by the end of the summer found out I had a pulled MCL. I have since fully recovered and have been training for the Mercedes Half again. I’ve always wondered if I could do a full marathon. Reading your story was very encouraging and I just might attempt it one day. My husband loves to run and is an assistant XC coach for a local Junior College. He wants to run a full marathon one day and hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon.
    Best wishes on your training and may God guide you through. Remember Phillipians 4:13! And remember with God all things are possible!!
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