Run the Year: One Runner's Journey to Crush 2023+ Miles

Ever wonder what it would take to run the year in miles?

You run at least 2,023 miles this year.

  • For most runners, that's not going to happen by accident. 
  • To run the year in miles, you need to run an average of 38 miles a week.
  • And if you take time off of running for vacation, family matters, work, health issues or anything else, you'll need some higher-mileage weeks to make up the difference.

But when running has been part of your life for 35+ years like it has for Pennsylvania-based runner Melissa Malone, fitting in a run isn't a chore or check-the-box kind of task...

  • It's a lifestyle
  • A lifeline to happiness, calm and better health
  • A daily reminder that life is a lot like running with ups and downs, happy moments, hardships, and highlights

But it wasn't always that way for Melissa. 

Something happened when she was just 17 years old that changed everything...

Melissa Malone was in a serious car accident at 17 years old.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธThe car accident, diagnosis & Running Rx

"I was in a horrible accident when I was 17 and was hit by a tractor trailer," says Melissa.
"It was a very serious accident. As a result, I had to go to physical therapy for several years. During this time, I developed my first autoimmune disease, Fibromyalgia."
"My therapist said that exercise would really help with my aching joints and muscles, so I started going to the gym religiously."

Melissa started running regularly with her dad after the accident, and a physical therapist recommended exercise.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธAnd then she started running...

"My dad has always been a runner for as long as I can remember, and he said that I should try running with him. So that is what I did, and it became an addiction for me very quickly. The more I ran, the better my body felt." 
Thirty-five-plus years later, she's still running... 

Melissa Malone ran the New York City Marathon.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธRun for your life at the New York City Marathon

When you've been running for 35-plus years and crossed the finish line hundreds of times, it's hard to pick a single race that stands out.
But for Melissa, there is one that still means a lot...
"I think New York City Marathon in 2018 would have to be at the top because of what I had to overcome to get there."

  • She survived a serious car accident
  • The autoimmune disease fibromyalgia took a toll on her body
  • And then she was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease

Long before she stepped up to the starting line of the New York City Marathon, she was fighting a much harder battle than running 26.2 miles...
"I was coming off of a year's worth of bed rest from the damage this disease had done to my body. Extreme fatigue, 50 pound weight gain, hair loss and so much more."
"It took all of my mental and physical strength to train for this marathon when my body was turning on me."
On race day, she walked and ran through the five boroughs of the New York City Marathon, feeling grateful to still be alive, still able to run, and still able to see her family.
"I felt like I won when I crossed that finish line. The crowd support at the New York City Marathon helped push me through."
"It was such an awesome marathon and that was when I knew that I could do hard things. The body is an amazing machine...we are capable of so much more than we think."

Melissa completed the Disney Dopey Challenge. It's a four-day race through Disney parks with a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon for a total of 48.6 miles.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธMore favorite races

  • The Pittsburgh Marathon. Melissa ran this marathon to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3. "It was the most rewarding race, because I was running for a cause very dear to my heart," says Melissa.
  • The Dopey Challenge. It's a four-day race through Disney parks with a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon for a total of 48.6 miles. "Me and three other friends did that race together and made some incredible memories," says Melissa. "I'm a big Disney fan and flew to France that same year to complete the Castle to Chateaux Challenge and did the half marathon at Disney Paris." 
Melissa says strength training helps her prevent injuries and speed recovery.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธTips to prevent & manage running-related injuries

Surviving a serious car accident when she was a teenager forced Melissa to learn how to manage injuries at an early age.
And that's served her well to keep on running for 35-plus years.
"I try not to let injuries keep me from pounding the pavement for too long," says Melissa.
Over the years, she's worked through running-related injuries, including:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • IT Band syndrome
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Hip pain & inflammation (bursitis)

"I do think that strength training makes those injuries less severe," says Melissa.
"And I recover more quickly from just incorporating strength, core, and stability exercises with bands into my routine."

Read more about some post-run recovery tools and moves here.

Why do you run? For Melissa, running = health & happiness.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ2 reasons to keep on running

Why do you run?
For some people, it's a simple way to stay in shape and manage weight. For other people, it's all about chasing finish lines.
Melissa's two reasons for running for 35-plus years...
Health & happiness
"I run now for my health, and because it makes me happy," says Melissa.
In addition to living with fibromyalgia and Hashimoto's disease, she was also diagnosed with hereditary high blood pressure, and several heart issues.
"When I don't run, my blood pressure goes up and my muscles and joints ache from the fibromyalgia."
Run for the soul
"The other reason I run is because my dad instilled the love of running in me at a young age, and I have carried it with me all these years."
"It has helped me get through some really hard times, so it has become so much more than running to me after all these decades."

  • It is memories...
  • It is home...
  • It takes me back to a time and place when life was so much simpler...
  • I can forget my worries and rewind back for a few hours a day and truly feel free from the responsibilities and weight of the world...

"I run because it is ingrained into the fiber of my soul. It seems more natural to me than walking, as strange as that may sound."

Melissa hit 2,023 miles for the year in August. Now she's on track to run 3,000 miles by Dec. 31, 2023.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธWhat does it take to "Run the Year" in miles?

"I've been doing the "Run the Year" challenge for many years now," says Melissa.
"I find that this challenge helps hold me accountable and is fun. It is so easy to become complacent and take days off when you don't have a goal or deadline to meet."
So on Jan. 1, 2023, she laced up her running shoes to go 2,023 miles by the end of the year.
But something happened...
"I have felt really strong this year in my running ability, so I upped my mileage and just went by feel on a lot of my runs."
By late August, Melissa ran right past the 2,023-mile goal.
"To hit the goal before September, it took a lot of discipline and determination."
But she wasn't about to just quit on the "run the year" challenge, even though she hit the goal four months early.
"I decided to try and hit 3000 miles for the year. So I upped my mileage then to almost 10 miles a day and here we are." 
If she runs an average of 7.5 miles a day or 52 miles a week between now and Dec. 31, she'll reach 3,000 miles for the year.
"I am still going to continue to do the 10 and maybe come in higher. What's that motto? 'Go big, or go home.'"

Fun facts about Melissa Malone

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธFun facts about Melissa Malone

Longest distance I've ran:

  • 50K

Run alone, with friends or a group?

  • "I am pretty much a solo runner. I ran with my dad for a decade. Then I ran with a friend for many years. We trained for a marathon together, but she moved to Ohio, so I went back to solo running." 

Running role models

  • "My dad, for the discipline and example he instilled in me at an early age. I would watch him come home from work off of the midnight shift and go run ten miles, cause he knew it wouldn't get done if he didn't go then."
  • "The Facebook running community where I see strangers who have become true friends and encouraged me by their performance, determination, kind words and drive. 
  • "On a bigger platform Sally McCrae, Courtney Dauwalter and Harvey Lewis have been instrumental in making me believe that the body achieves what the mind believes. The discipline, determination and accomplishments that these three amazing ultra runners have shown me has been nothing short of mind blowing and all three have exceptional character. They have helped me to believe that anything is possible." 

Favorite race

  • New York City Marathon 

Favorite watch

Favorite running shoes

  • Asics: Novablast 3, Gel-Nimbus 24, Gel-Cumulus 22 AWL

Run the Year Challenge current miles...

  • 2,273
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Evan Jensen
SANDY, Oregon
2 Following

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...


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