Chip Gaines Explains How He Got In Shape For First Marathon After Not Working Out For 10 Years

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

One might assume that Chip Gaines is naturally a pretty fit guy. He works in construction, after all!

He tears down walls and builds stuff for a living!

But in 2018, Chip and Joanna Gaines started a marathon race in their home city of Waco, Texas, and it inspired Chip to actually get in shape. Like, really in shape, because running a marathon is hard work, y’all.

Chip says it was quite a feat to get ready for his first marathon.

“I hadn’t worked out in about a decade, and I was easily 20 pounds overweight,” Chip said, per People. “That’s not really the ideal starting place for a budding marathoner.”

Maybe not, but it’s all about the mindset, right? Chip powered through an ankle injury, and somehow, someway, he ran (and walked) all 26.2 miles to the finish line.

The Silo District Marathon is now an annual event. This year, Chip ran a half-marathon instead, and he totally killed it.

Meanwhile, I have yet to leave my couch today. Different strokes, different folks!

Chip opened up about his journey from dad bod to marathon runner with a personal essay in the latest issue of the Magnolia Journal.

Or, in his words, he went from “couch potato to marathoner.”

It was all for the sake of completing the inaugural Silo District Marathon, an event that Chip founded in Waco, Texas.

The former Fixer Upper star was inspired to start the marathon after meeting a woman named Gabriele (Gabe), whom he met while she was running with her partner in New York. Gabe is a professional runner with a rare cancer called cystic carcinoma.

Meeting Gabe felt like a “call to action,” Chip said. He’d always wondered whether he could successfully run an entire marathon himself, and he decided to finally take the plunge and do it. The Silo District Marathon raises funds for the fight against cancer.


Chip asked Gabe “how long it would take for an out-of-shape guy like [Chip] to train for a marathon.”

Her answer? Four months.

It was a tough task for Chip: “I hadn’t worked out in about a decade, and I was easily 20 pounds overweight. That’s not really the ideal starting place for a budding marathoner. But what I did know felt bigger than all of the very good reasons I wasn’t qualified.”

Gabe also stayed on as a coach throughout the journey, and her mere presence continued to inspire Gabe.

“I knew I wanted to be a part of the work Gabe was doing,” Chip said, “so I could either get off the couch and jump in with both feet or sit there comfortably and play spectator to this opportunity as it passed me by.”

Halfway through his training, Chip suffered a major setback. He developed tendinitis in his ankle, which interrupted his training.

By the time the marathon rolled around, Chip’s longest run had been only 15 miles. His doctor recommended that he opt to run a 5K instead to avoid injuring himself any further.

“But I’m just not built that way,” Chip wrote. “I committed to the marathon and I was resolved to run the distance I’d set out to accomplish.”

Also, nearly 6,000 runners had signed up to run in the marathon alongside Chip. He felt shaken by the ankle injury, but he was determined not to let it stop him from fulfilling his mission.

“I decided that I’d put too much emotional and physical energy into training and hosting this race to let this setback derail my goal,” he said.

“Even if the reality was that I ultimately would not be able to complete the race, I was gonna give it everything I had.”

Chip did end up successfully completing all 26.2 miles, running and walking, and he crossed the finish line. In true Chip fashion, he did it all while wearing a tool belt and brought his daughter Emmie Kay with him over the finish line.

It was a triumphant moment for the first-time marathoner, but it was quite a rough time getting there. There were moments when he could “barely walk,” he wrote, and his “feet felt as if they were going to explode.”

“See, failure was every bit a part of the journey,” he wrote.

This year’s Silo District Marathon was a testament of knowing your limits. Chip opted to run 13.1 miles instead of 26.2 miles. He pushed his 10-month-old son Crew in a stroller over the finish line.