Being overweight can be a major obstacle when you’re starting a running program, but it shouldn’t bar you from the sport.
Here’s the truth. If you’re overweight, running is what you need to shed the extra pounds and keep them off for good (for more on the benefits of running, check my post here).
That being said, running is a high impact activity that can take a toll on your body—especially if you’re many pounds over the norm and/or really out of shape.
In today’s post, I’ll show how to take up running without risking injury or burnout. By following the training guidelines below; you’ll be able to get fit, lose the weight, and keep it off for good.
Are you excited?
Here we go…
See Your Doctor
Running (and exercise in general) is a fantastic way of losing weight, increasing strength, boosting stamina, and improving overall health and well-being levels.
But if you haven’t done much exercise in the last few years, you need to start with a visit to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want when starting an exercise plan is to hurt yourself.
During your visit, expect to go through an extensive physical assessment.
Some of the issues most likely to be addressed include any history of a heart condition, your kidney health, any respiratory diseases you may have (including asthma or lung diseases), joint issues (such as arthritis), medications you’re currently taking, and any other pertinent issues in your medical history.
Be honest with your physician and tell them the reasons you want to start running, as well as your training and weight loss goals. Their feedback will likely be of tremendous help.
Got the green light from your physician?
Great! It’s time to get started!
In order to run, you first need to be able to walk. Though it might seem like too small a step in your weight loss journey, walking is the perfect stepping stone to the world of running.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done without making a huge commitment. It helps you build the endurance and strength needed for intense exercise.
It’s also perfect for revealing any underlying issues. For instance, if you experience knee pain while walking, take it up with your doctor, or at least be aware that something might be amiss.
Start out by walking three to four times the first week and work your way up. By four weeks in, you should be able to walk five to six times a week, with each session lasting 50 to 60 minutes.
Here’s the ideal walking session.
- Begin your session with a 5-minute slow walk as a warm-up.
- Increase your intensity to a brisk walk pace and stick with it for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
- When you’re near the end of your walking workout, slow down and walk slowly for 5 minutes to bring your heart rate down.
Important Note: Stay at this stage for as long as you have to. There’s no need to do too much too soon. Progress at your own pace. Remember, you’re not competing with anybody other than yourself.
The run-walk method is the brainchild of Jeff Galloway, a legendary running coach. It entails alternating between LOW-INTENSITY running intervals and walking recovery breaks.
Start your session with a 10-minute brisk walk to get your heart rate up and blood flowing to the working muscles.
Next, using for a slow and controlled pace, jog for 20 to 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds to one full minute.
Repeat the cycle for 15 to 20 minutes, then wrap it up with a 5-minute walk as a cool down.
The Exact Progression you Need
Here’s an easy pattern to follow:
Once you’re comfortable jogging for one minute, increase your jogging time to 90 seconds. Once 90-seconds feels like a breeze, increase your time to two minutes. Continue adding on in this manner.
Not good with numbers? You’re not alone. Been there. Done that.
Here’s how to handle it. Jog slowly for half a block, then build up to a whole block, then two blocks, and so on.
Whatever you end up doing, be sure to gradually increase the time you spend running while taking less and less time for recovery. Your goal is to be jogging for at least 20 minutes without too much huffing and puffing.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Runner?
There are no conclusive answers to this question. The exact time frame depends on several factors, including your fitness level, your current weight, age, gender, training experience, and exercise consistency.
It’s really up to you, but if I were to guess, I’d expect you to need to invest at least, three to six months of consistent training. That’s an estimate on the low end, provided that you don’t have a serious health issue.
Buy the Right Gear
As an overweight runner, you need to look for technical gear (clothing specifically designed for runners) that’s comfortable, fits well and is within your budget.
I highly recommend compression gear for overweight exercisers. These are typically made of lightweight fabric that pulls moisture away from your skin while providing extra support.
Compression gear can prevent swelling in your legs and arms, and may reduce muscle soreness afterward.
A pair of tight spandex pants and a compression shirt are must-have items. The pants will keep your thighs from rubbing together, whereas the shirt is especially important for those who feel self-conscious about their stomach and chest bouncing while running.
One of the greatest appeals of running is its convenience and lack of required equipment, but you still need a pair of GOOD and PROPER running shoes. They are the most important investment you can make, regardless of your size and fitness level.
Choosing to wear a pair of shoes that are worn-out, too tight, too loose, or simply not designed for running will do nothing but make you vulnerable to Achilles Tendonitis, knee pain, shin splints and other injuries. And you want none of these, don’t you?
How to find the right sole-mate?
My best advice is that you go to the nearest specialty running store, where trained staff will examine your foot type and your running gait. This might be a bit expensive, but it’s worth the price in both the short and long term.
Do it For Yourself
You’re a big person. In fact, you might be the most overweight runner on the block.
There’s no doubt that you’ll be drawing a lot of attention, and some of it might not be positive. Not everyone is supportive, and you shouldn’t expect universal encouragement.
My advice is that you don’t mind the haters, because (in the words of Taylor Swift), “Haters gonna hate hate hate.”
Don’t let the mind games and name calling interfere with the process, and please, don’t let anyone, but you dictate how you should be living your life. You’re your own person.
All you need to do is train, and keep on training, regardless of negative feedback. Turn a deaf ear to the BS, and do what you have to do to get in shape.
Keep your focus on you and nobody else. Aim to cultivate a positive attitude no matter what happens, even if your workouts suck. (They are supposed to suck.)
Always move forward. Never look backward. If the colossal a$$holes giving you a hard time understood what it takes to become a runner while overweight, they’d think twice before mocking anyone.
Build the Habit
Once you can run for 30 minutes straight without trouble, shift your focus to making running a daily habit. That’s how you truly make it a part of your lifestyle.
Build the running habit by doing the following:
Schedule your runs the same way you schedule an important work meeting or a vital doctor’s appointment. Use a daily calendar, your smartphone’s reminder app or to block out the time you need for the run.
Stick to the “three workouts per week” rule for at least 12 weeks. If you can work up to 16 weeks, then you’re good, since most healthy lifestyle changes take that long to become ingrained into a daily routine.
Don’t run alone., Pair up with a friend or training buddy from the gym. Doing so will not only help you stay motivated but also increase accountability.
Do your best and forget the rest.