In this category I’ll discuss being overweight and running and all of the issues you might encounter.
How To Start Running When You’re Overweight
Start small and make yourself some realistic goals to get back into shape. The key here is to longevity. If you try to lose weight too quickly with running, then you’ll face burning out and stopping running altogether.
If you take things slowly and set realistic short and long term goals then you’re more likely to succeed in the long run.
I set myself the goal of running the Belfast Marathon 2011 when I first started. This seemed ambitious at the time but it really motivated me into trying to get fit.
This Is How I Started Running When I Was Fat
When I started training for the marathon I was around 230lbs. For a 6’2″ man, that’s at least 30lbs overweight. I started by running on the treadmill at the local gym to try to take the impact off my knees. Going into a gym when you’re overweight is difficult. You think that everyone is staring in you, when in reality they’re likely wrapped up in their own insecurities!
I dreaded making the transition from gym to the streets as I was still insecure about my body and receiving abuse from idiots.
One of the biggest problems I have is with passers-by calling me a ‘fat bastard’ out of their car window. I try to ignore this, mainly as the person giving me the abuse is way fatter than me and probably couldn’t run the length of themselves.
Runners knee and shin splints are major issues that you might encounter if you step up your training too much at first. If you’re an overweight runner, it’s imperative that you increase your training volume by 10% each week at first.
The question I’m asked most often must be ‘Is running good for overweight people?’
My answer is that there is little better for long term weight loss! Once you start to enjoy running as a part of your lifestyle, then you’re much more likely to keep the weight off in the long run.
Can Fat People Run Marathons?
Overweight people finish marathons every week. There is no reason why you can’t be one either!
Whilst running with excess weight makes things harder, it isn’t the be all and end in terms of performance.
If you can run 5K (3.1 miles) easily and then follow an 18 week marathon training schedule then you can overcome your weight issues and finish a marathon.
Whilst training for the marathon in 2011, I used the excellent Non Runners Marathon Trainer.
It’s a great entry level book, but I found the training program to be a little too relaxed. I took the minimum daily run distances and increased them by a mile each time.
All of the distances in the schedule below are in miles and are taken from the Non Runners Marathon Trainer.
Following this plan loosely helped me incredibly. It’s great that it has such a low entry point in terms of mileage, but don’t let that fool you. To run a great first marathon you have to balance covering as many miles as you can without injuring yourself.
The key to success is to take the training week by week. If you look at all of the miles you have to run towards the end of the schedule then you’ll freak out. At the start of my training program I couldn’t have conceived running 8 miles let alone doing 18. Just focus on what’s required this week and progress onwards from there.
That’s why I recommend building your base as much as possible in the first few weeks of training, so that you have something to build upon over the mid and late weeks of marathon preparation.
Focus on distance more than pace in your first marathon sessions. Don’t set yourself a time target as you quite literally won’t know what’s hit you towards the end of the race!
What Are The Best Running Shoes For Someone Who Is Overweight?
You can’t go far wrong with the Nike Lunarglide range as they are reasonably cheap and provide a lot of support if you’re overweight.
I started off running with the Nike Lunarglide 2 shoes and they lasted for around 3 months of marathon training (approximately 500 miles).
I then replaced the shoes 1 month before the marathon itself with the exact same pair of shoes. I reckon my original Lunarglide running shoes could have lasted another 100 miles, it’s just that I was paranoid at the time that they’d cut my feet up.
Don’t Pay Any Attention To Those Who Laugh At Fat People Running
If they understood how much it hurts, then they’d hesitate to mock those runners who run every day overweight.
The idiots out there want to discourage you because they are jealous of your gall and ambition. Plus they are semi-retarded.
Running can be difficult enough when you’re just starting off and when others mock you, it makes it twice as difficult.
I think this picture says it all.
Basically, fuck the haters.
Can Being Overweight Cause Headaches Whilst Running?
I can only speak for myself here but after a number of my long runs I experienced a migraine afterwards.
Concerned about why this was happening, I went to my doctor and he told me I was trying too much too soon and that I should try to lose some weight through walking before progressing with training.
Unfazed, I just slowed down in training and the migraines disappeared just like that. If you experience a headache out running as an overweight person, it could be your body’s way of telling you that you’re overexerting yourself.
Slow down and consult your doctor for advice if the headaches persist.
Training For A Marathon As An Overweight Person
With retrospect I think that training for a marathon as a first race isn’t a great idea. Rather, it’s better to start with a 5k work up your way through the 10k to a half marathon and then tackle a marathon.
My first race was the Larne Half Marathon 2011 in preparation for the Belfast City Marathon 2011. Since I hadn’t run in an event before I had no idea what lay ahead of me and as it came to the last few miles I was beginning to doubt my sanity for entering the race.
That’s not to say that you’ll have a negative experience in the marathon if you’re overweight. My advice would be to work on building up your mileage to a consistent base of 40 miles per week by the time you’re half way through training and to keep at that level.
First time around I was barely hitting 30 miles per week. This was obviously not enough. At such a low level of weekly mileage my long slow runs were absolute hell.
Being Overweight On The Long Slow Run
The long slow run was the training session I hated most when I was overweight. My normal pace at the time was a 10:00 min/mile and since i was greatly inexperienced I tried all of my long runs at the same space. This lead to complete mental and physical capitulation at the latter stage of my runs.
Now I’ve learned that it’s more important to cover the distance at any speed as an overweight beginner. If you’re new to running a marathon then you won’t know what will hit you in that last 10K. That’s why it’s crucial to put in the distance regardless of your target time in the marathon.
I would have fared better in the marathon if I’d eaten healthier. I was only 5lbs overweight by the time it came to race-day but that made all the difference. Marathon training provides an ideal opportunity to lose weight but only if you’re willing to eat sensibly. That’s why I think it’s OK to enter marathon training overweight, as long as you take proactive steps to reducing your mass by marathon time.
As An Overweight Runner You Should Not Be Getting Out Of Breath Too Often.
The biggest mistake overweight beginners make is to go out too fast. It’s common to hear of runners complaining about imminent heart failure or not being able to breathe properly.
If this sounds like you, then you need to slow down. Whenever you go out for a run you should be able to hold a conversation with the person next to you. If this means running a 13 or a 15 minute mile then so be it.
Once you become experienced at running a certain distance, then you can improve your speed.
If you want to improve your speed whilst still overweight, an idea is to incorporate sprinting bursts towards the end of your workout. Make sure that you’ve got enough energy left though otherwise you might have to stop!.
Is Running A Great Way To Lose Weight For Overweight People?
Yes it is, but that does mean that you can’t monitor your diet.
The biggest obstacle to losing weight running is failing to continue your appetite that comes from running more often. You can quite quickly undo all of your hard work by letting your diet slip.
If you’re new to calorie counting then I recommend joining My Fitness Pal. They offer a range of excellent tools for monitoring your caloric intake.
As An Overweight Person Can I Hurt Myself If I Run?
If you haven’t ran before and try to start off running too fast or too often, then you run the risk of injury.
That is why it’s important to start any running program slowly. In the early stages of your running life, it is best to start slowly and cover longer distances rather than running for shorter distances at a higher intensity. Once you get back to a healthy weight, you can then start workouts at a higher intensity.
In my 16 months as a distance runner I’ve managed to avoid any serious injuries by just listening to my body. Remember, you know your body better than anyone. If your body is still aching after a run a day later then don’t run on it again.
How To Improve Your Endurance And Motivation As An Overweight Runner.
The key is to train as much as your body will allow you and making yourself accountable for training.
New pedometer devices like the FitBit Ultra are excellent for this as you give you an insight into your daily exercise trends. You can see how far you’ve ran on a daily basis and can establish long term goals based upon your stats. You can even share your results with friends online.
As a general rule, the longer you stay on your feet jogging, the better the results will be over time.
i’ve found that the more I improve as runner, the easier it is to find motivation to go outside. If you think back to the first time you tried running it was probably a horrible experience. You were out of breath, exhausted and aching all over. Well as I progressed I’ve found that all the negative aspects of jogging dissipate and I’m left only with the positives.
I Am 25lb/50lb/100lb Overweight. Am I Too Fat To Start Running?
No, but if you’re overweight it is best to consult your doctor before starting a running program.
When I was 75lbs overweight I felt like running was an impossibility. I started to feel hopeless that I would never be able to sustain an exercise program and control my weight in the future.
Things started getting better when I realised that I could start running if I lost a little bit of weight and improved my diet.
The important thing is to not lose hope if you perceive yourself to be fat. People do come back from obesity and become lifelong runners.
The only person holding you back is yourself. Ignore what everyone else is doing exercise wise and focus on achieving your own goals.
If I can do it, so can you. Just take it easy to begin with, enjoy what you’re doing and the rest will follow.
I’ve Always Been Overweight, Even When I Was Still At School. Can I Still Run?
Yep you can.
I always hated gym lessons. It was 4 hours a week of pure physical torture. The problem was that the teachers were allocated so little time per week for fitness lessons that they had to work you hard to try to keep you fit in such a short period of time.
This intensive approach left me feeling for a long time that I was not cut out for running or any type of fitness.
How wrong was I?
The key to enjoying running as a fat person is to run at your own pace and to focus on improving your own times and distances, rather than comparing yourself to the field. When you’re in school, running is all about competition. If you’re at the back then you’re a nothing.
This simply isn’t true especially when you start running for your own reasons.
Should I Factor In My BMI When It Comes To Running?
You should only care about how you feel when you run. BMI is nothing but a vague number.
If you try running and can’t continue without great discomfort, then you need to slow down, even to a walk.
You will quickly get a feel for what you are capable of by testing your body over a period of time.
When I was 270lbs I could run for maybe 0.1 mile at best. I’d be doubled over in pain from it too. This meant that I had to spend my first few months walking before I could introduce some running into my regime.
My BMI was never a factor in this. My physical fitness was the only factor that kept me from running.
If you think your BMI is too high for running, try jogging for a little bit and see how it feels. You might be surprised by how long you can last. If you can run for even 0.1 mile, over time you can build that up to 0.25, 0.5 and eventually a mile.
It’s how I started and I’m now regularly running 40 miles per week.