The pitfalls of being an overweight runner

So for argument’s sake lets just say you’re overweight, well 60.8% of the UK population are so you are in good company…or heaven forbid you are obese or dare I say it morbidly obese (all of which I have been over the last 20 years)… and you are considering taking up running you say?

Who in their right mind would suggest running to you when even getting off the sofa is a challenge now? Crazy right?

Well Maybe not.

To help you make an informed decision whether “to run or not to run?” I have collated ten legitimate problems that BMI challenged individuals face in the running world. Use these to support your “I’d love to take up running but…” statement if you like, but I’m afraid I’ve included the counter argument for each too.

1. People will laugh at me

So what? People laugh at fat people anyway… all of the time. So how is this different? Although this has happened to me a few times it is actually quite rare, I find people are pretty supportive, at races especially so. Besides, it shows you are trying to do something about your weight. It’s normally kids, or blokes that could do with losing a few pounds themselves that make the comments. Some good tricks to avoid the sniggers or funny looks is to listen to music or run at night and try not to make eye contact. Sticks and stones and all that, but i know it can be really disheartening.

2. I don’t have the right clothes to wear.

Do you wear special clothes to walk to the shops? Or to pick the kids up from school? No, you wear whatever you have available. Yes you could buy something more suitable for running, but to get started anything will do. Leggings/trackie bottoms and a t-shirt are fine. Save the Lycra for when you’ve lost a few pounds and when you know you’re gonna run frequently. A decent pair of trainers is a good idea, but you can pick these up cheap in sports direct or online (£30 should get you a good enough pair to start with, £80 will get you top of the range)

3. My boobs will knock me (or someone else) out

Invest in a sports bra or wear two supportive bras one on top of each other or use bandages or a scarf to literally tie them down. I kid you not. You boobs will shrink in size as you lose the weight. Initially I found a normal bra and a tight-fitting crop top style sports bra worked for me, but now I run 3-4 times a week a proper fitting sports bra gives me better supports.

4. I have bad knees

Obviously I wouldn’t encourage you to go against doctors advice. But I actually tore the ligaments in my right knee (after falling over drunk at Notting Hill carnival) a year later I ran my first 10k. Running actually strengthens your knees as long as you build up slow and have the right supportive trainers. Think about your running surface too, there are alternatives to pounding concrete!! You could wear supports on them just to be on the safe side.

5. I get breathless

I get breathless when having sex sometimes, it doesn’t stop me doing it. Again check with your doctor, but build up slowly, and stop to catch your breath if you need to. If you seriously have breathing issues then now is the time to get fit. I found when I first started out that I really needed to focus on my breathing technique, and some of it was mind over matter…I still find it hard running, breathing and talking at the time, which is why I prefer to train alone most of the time!!

6. I might fall over

Yes, this is possible. I have fallen over, and nearly fallen over many times. All that’s been hurt is my pride though. Your balance and your confidence does improve the more you run. Keep an eye on where you are going, don’t run too fast, look out for traffic and pedestrians and dogs, oh and ambulances!!

7. I am too slow

You will be faster than everyone else that’s still sitting on the couch. I can sometimes walk faster than I’m running and that’s ok, the only person you are competing against is yourself. You can work on your speed once you are running for 30 minutes or 5 kilometres at a time. In terms of races, or running groups a big fear is that you will finish last. Sometimes you do, I finished a race once and the organisers had already packed up I was so slow. You won’t always be the slowest. And so what if you are.

8. There’s nowhere to run near me

That can’t be true and if it is, get on a bus and find somewhere you can run. A park is always a safe bet, and during the day many are very quiet. Check out parkrun, checkout your local running or walking club, and see if there is a running track nearby. Integrate running into your day, run to work or to pick up the kids. I sometimes get a train somewhere and run back.

9. I’m scared to run alone

So take a friend along, or a dog or a friends dog. Join a running club, run in a gym on a treadmill (not quite the same feeling as running outside though). Choose safe routes, always let people know where you are running and when to expect you home. Take money for a cab home and a mobile phone for emergencies.

10. That means giving up booze, fags and Macdonald’s

Really? I would have long given up if that was the case. Booze – running club members often go for drinks after training sessions, I actually ran my first 10k without stopping under the influence of the previous nights booze (probably not healthy, but I lived to tell the tale), Fags, I’m not a smoker and it probably doesn’t help with no.5, but I’m sure there are plenty of runners that smoke. At least for as long as you are running your not puffin away, it might even encourage you to give up. And lastly Macdonalds, during the summer of 2012 I was working in the athletes village, the longest queues in the athletes dining hall were for…you guessed it the big yellow m. So if Olympic athletes can eat fast food then so can you, but if I’m being honest I know how tough 5k of running is, and how many calories that burns…a quarter pounder and cheese is just not worth it.

So there you have it, yes being overweight does have its challenges but there really isn’t an excuse not to give it a go.

I ran the London Marathon weighing over 15 stone, that’s like 3 Paula Radcliffes…no wonder it took me almost 6 hours to complete…and yes I did have a pint of beer to celebrate, in fact I think it was two!!!

Comments
20 Responses to “The pitfalls of being an overweight runner”
  1. Liz says:

    I’m from Californa~ how much is 15stone in pounds? I would normally never ask someones weight, but i keep reading in in your posts so i hope you don’t mind. 🙂

  2. Liz says:

    gotcha, I’m 5-7 and 220lbs. i’d like to lose 60lb, even tho my dr says 80-90.. we bicker about it. lol

    • fattymustrun says:

      You know your body better than your doctor, for me to have a good healthy bmi I should be 12stone3, I think 12.7 – 13stone will be fine, I don’t want to be stick thin

  3. Liz says:

    I’m with you! i love my curves.. i want to be able to keep the T&A ~ ya know! just get rid of the middle and get back my hourglass!

  4. Rachel says:

    Excellent article, thanks. Funnily enough a very skinny friend who’s a mad keen runner posted it on fb. Good luck with your goals. 2 things that might be useful as well:
    4) I have bad knees – read this about wearing better shoes http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/index5.html
    5) I get breathless – find out about Buteyko breathing, which does amazing things for general health as well as serious conditions like asthma. A lot of overweight people don’t breathe well, snore & suffer sleep apnoea, which leads to lethargy & shortness of breath… vicious circle! Some info here: http://www.buteykobristol.co.uk or google for a teacher near you.

  5. mbcrower says:

    Phew, thank goodness someone else does the two bra thing. I’ve attracted a few looks in the changing rooms as I peel off multiple layers of scaffolding, but it works, and I don’t have any black eyes.

  6. Deb M says:

    It is so nice to see someone speaking out in favor of overweight people running. I use to let my weight limit me but not anymore. I go to kick boxing, Zumba, whatever I want. Plan to start running this week!

  7. amanda says:

    I am so pleased that I have come across this blog. I saw it on FB.
    I have always wanted to run but for many of the excuses (sorry I’m meant reasons) you mention, I never started. I even bought a treadmill and some running gear but every year I say the same thing, “I’ll start tomorrow”. I’ll go on the treadmill all winter (in my living room) and by spring, I will emerge like the spring flowers and run around my village. Then I wake up!
    There are tons of people who run and speed walk around my village, even really early on a morning, pushing babies in prams (what is that all about?)
    My head is saying one thing but my body is saying “dream on” and my knees just hurt even more at the thought.
    Maybe I can start with another mum on here, in mind and spirit?
    I have no idea how much I weigh, I wouldn’t dream of upsetting myself with that one, but I am a size 18-20 top and 20-22 bottom.
    So Fattymustrun, where do I start?

    • fattymustrun says:

      Start by telling yourself that you can do it.

      When I first started I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds without thinking my lungs were going to pack in. But I persevered and now I can run for an hour or so. And even run 95% of a marathon.

      My advice is start of slow and small. Create a loop from your front door maybe a mile or so. Set out and see how long it takes you to get back. Run if you can walk if you have to. But each time you go out see if you can improve your time.

      Running with other people can help, but often it can also scare people off. So make sure you find someone at a similar level as you.

      You can do it

      • amanda says:

        Thank you for replying back.
        I’ve just started to follow you on twitter.
        I agree with you about getting other people to run with you. Whilst the idea is great, until I can actually run or speed walk whilst talking and not looking like I am about to have a heart attack, I will give it a miss.
        I honestly don’t think I can run yet but can walk quite fast, so halfway there to a run I suppose.
        I am just getting ready to go away for weekend but when I get back tomorrow, I will dig out my watch (monitoring everything) and my running trainers (see I have had all the best intentions many times) and will time myself around the block.
        Will keep you posted if that is ok? Nice to be able to ‘chat’ to people going/been/having same issues.
        Hope you have a lovely weekend and knee feels better soon.
        🙂

  8. beccy says:

    Thank you for posting this up.

    I have just started a walking routine (45mins 3-4 times a week to coincide with swimming 30 lengths as much as possible) and I am desperate to get to the runnung stage!

    As I currently weigh 266lbs and am 5 ft 7ins, from bitter experience, I know that I cannot rush it, but I am determined to get there.

    Just found your blog but I will be an avid reader from now on.
    🙂
    Beccy x

    • fattymustrun says:

      You can do it Beccy. You will know when you are ready to start running, everything in good time. Don’t ever think you can’t do it because you can. I have been a runner at a size 22, weighing in at over 18 stones. Keep me posted with your progress!!

  9. Amy says:

    Im glad I found this. Ive been seriously overweight since I had my daughter 3 years ago and am at 16 and half stone now. I already walk for two hours 3 days a week butmI’m not losing any weight from it so want to start running and eating a bit healthier. I started a couple nights ago on my normal night time dog walk just 30 second bursts at a time but was weezing and struggling to breath for about half an hour after I got back. As soon as my daughter goes back to school from the holidaysmI’m going to start running 3 days a week with the dog instead of just walking im really excited because I really miss excersizing properly

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