The Ultimate Guide to Running for Fat People: Tips, Advice, and Inspiration

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David Dack

Looking for the best way to start running when you’re overweight? Then you come to the right place.

Getting into running when you’re really out of shape can be overwhelming. The fear of judgment from others can be paralyzing, and the fear of failure can be even worse.

But I’m here to tell you that those fears are just illusions. With a little bit of guidance and a whole lot of determination, anyone can become a runner, no matter their size or fitness level.

In this guide, I’ll share with you the tools and techniques that helped me go from couch potato to marathon runner.

We’ll explore the benefits of running for weight loss, dispel the myths about running when fat, and even dive into the nitty-gritty of proper running technique.

But most importantly, I’ll show you how to find the motivation and inspiration you need to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

So, are you ready to take that first step towards a healthier, happier you? Together, we’ll break free from the chains of self-doubt and unlock the full potential of our bodies.

Let’s lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement!

Fat People Running? FAQ

People often ask me if running is good for fat people.

And the answer is, of course, yes!

Running regularly can help you shed pounds and keep them off, even though it may be tough to get started, especially if you’ve been inactive for a while.

While it’s true that running is high-impact and can take a toll on your joints, the dangers of being overweight far outweigh the risks of running. In fact, the extra weight can wreak havoc on your body, far more than running ever could.

Here are some research papers that looked into the impact of running on overweight people:

  • A 2018 study published in the Journal of Obesity found that a 16-week running program resulted in significant weight loss and improved cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight and obese adults. Participants who ran for at least 150 minutes per week lost an average of 5.5 pounds and improved their VO2 max by 5.6 mL/kg/min. The study suggests that running can be an effective way to improve weight and fitness levels in overweight individuals.
  • A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that running may be more effective than walking for weight loss in overweight and obese adults. The study compared the effects of running and walking on body composition and metabolic health markers in a group of sedentary, overweight adults. After 12 weeks, the runners lost more weight and body fat than the walkers, and also experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels.
  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that running can be an effective way to reduce abdominal fat in overweight and obese individuals. The study followed a group of sedentary, overweight adults who engaged in a 12-week running program. At the end of the study, the participants had reduced their waist circumference and abdominal fat mass, suggesting that running can target and reduce visceral fat in overweight individuals.

See Your Doctor

First things first, let’s talk about seeing your doctor.

Think of it like getting a tune-up before a big road trip. You wouldn’t want to hit the highway without checking your brakes and getting an oil change, would you? The same goes for starting a new exercise plan.

Plus, you don’t want to be that guy hobbling around with a sore ankle or knee after your first run. Trust me; I’ve been there.

During your visit, expect to undergo an extensive physical assessment.

Be honest to get the most accurate feedback and advice.

You’re only cheating yourself by not telling the truth.

Some of the issues to address include:

  • Any history of a heart condition, including blood pressure,
  • Kidney health,
  • Any respiratory diseases (including asthma or lung diseases),
  • Joint issues (such as arthritis and trauma history),
  • Current medication, and
  • Pertinent issues in your medical history.

Once you get the green light from your physician, it’s time to get going.

Proper Footwear

Speaking of running pains, let’s chat about shoes. Your sneakers are like the tires on your car – they can make all the difference in how smooth your ride is.

And trust me, running in ill-fitting shoes is like trying to drive a car with a flat tire. It’s just not going to go well. So, invest in a good pair of running shoes that fit properly.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Think of it like getting a GPS for your car. You don’t want to get lost on your journey, right?

The same goes for finding the right shoes. Head to a specialty running store and let the experts guide you.

They’ll examine your feet and running style to help you find the perfect pair of kicks. It might cost a bit more, but it’s worth it. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on Advil in the long run.

Running Clothing For The Obese Runner

Choose technical gear (clothing specifically designed for runners) that’s comfortable, fits well, and is within your budget.

I highly recommend compression gear for fat runners.

These are typically made of lightweight fabric that pulls moisture away from the skin while providing extra support.

It also helps prevent swelling in the legs and arms and may reduce muscle soreness afterward.

Additional resource – How to find affordable running clothes

A Running Plan For obese Beginners

Gotten the green light as well as basic running gear?

Great! It’s time to get started!

Let’s look at the actual steps you need to take in order to become a runner when you’re overweight.

Walk First

You might think that walking is for leisurely strolls in the park or for senior citizens, but it’s actually the perfect stepping stone to becoming a runner.

Walking is a low-impact exercise that allows you to build the endurance and strength needed for more intense physical activity. Think of it as the warm-up before the main event.

Not only that but walking is an excellent way to identify any underlying issues before you start running.

Trust me, there’s nothing worse than discovering you have knee pain halfway through a a short jog. If you experience any discomfort or pain while walking, talk to your doctor, or at the very least, acknowledge that your body might need some extra TLC.

Action Step

Let’s start by taking it one step at a time – literally. In the first week, aim to walk three to four times for about 30 minutes each session. By week four, you should be walking five to six times a week for 50 to 60 minutes each session.

But hold on, don’t just start walking like you’re on autopilot. Here’s how to make the most out of each session:

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 walk, slow down, then stretch your body to bring your heart rate down.

Important Note: Remember, the most important thing is to progress at your own pace. You’re not competing with anyone except yourself, and as long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress. Just don’t give up! The road to becoming a runner may be long, but it’s definitely worth it.

Additional resource – Here’s your guide to running three miles a day.

Start Run/Walking 

Now that you’re able to briskly walk for an hour without any pain, it’s time to introduce the run/walk method to your routine. It’s like a dance, but with your feet pounding the pavement instead of your partner’s.

Action Step:

Start by getting that blood flowing with a 10-minute brisk walk warm-up.

Next, feel the wind through your hair (or sweat through your cap, if you prefer) with a 20-30 second jog, followed by a 30-second to one-minute walk. Repeat this groove for 15-20 minutes, and then cool down with a 5-minute walk.

Once you can jog for a minute without feeling like you’re going to keel over, bump that up to 90 seconds.

Feeling like a superstar already? Increase your jogging time to two minutes. Keep on grooving, baby! If you’re worried this plan might be too much for you, no sweat! I’ve got you covered with a plan tailored specifically for overweight runners.

Feel like too much to handle?

Don’t worry.

I’ve already provided you below with the exact overweight runner plan you need to get started.

And remember, the name of the game is gradual progress. Your goal is to be grooving for at least 20 minutes without too much huffing and puffing. Keep on moving and keep on grooving.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to much to run to lose weight

Listen to your Body

By far, this is the most important rule to abide by when you start running or any other form of exercise – listen to your body.

It’s okay—and expected—to experience a little muscle soreness the day after a run, especially during the first few weeks. It’s a sign that you’re making progress.

You’ll be sweating, your heart rate will increase, and you’ll find it hard at times to keep at it. But, if you’re doubling over in pain, you’re doing it wrong. Trust me, you don’t want to end up like a cartoon character clutching their chest while gasping for breath.

Slow down if you notice any of the following red flags:

  • Nausea: Feeling queasy is a clear sign that something is off.
  • Intense chest pain: This is not the time to play tough guy. Chest pain could be a symptom of a serious medical condition, so stop immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Vomiting: Throwing up is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve pushed it too far. Don’t ignore this signal.
  • Severe muscle or joint pain: Pain is not a gain in this situation. You might need to take a step back and re-evaluate your approach.
  • Confusion: If you’re feeling disoriented or confused, stop what you’re doing and get some rest.
  • Loss of balance: Losing your balance is a recipe for disaster when running. Slow down and regain your composure.
  • Heart palpitations: Feeling your heart racing can be unsettling. Listen to your body and take a break until you feel better.
  • Dizziness or vertigo: Feeling lightheaded or dizzy is not a good sign. Stop immediately and take a break.

Remember, it’s important to push yourself, but not to the point of causing harm. Your body will thank you for it!

Recover Well

If you think that pushing yourself to the limit every day is the key to becoming a great runner, think again. In reality, rest and recovery are just as important as hard training when it comes to making progress and avoiding injury.

To get started, make sure to alternate your hard training days with rest days. This will give your muscles a chance to repair and rebuild, so you can come back stronger and more energized for your next workout.

If you’re not keen on taking a full day off, that’s okay! You can still cross train with other activities that complement your running routine. Some great options for beginners include swimming, strength training, spinning, and yoga.

Additional resource – How to combine keto and running


Running Plan for obese beginners – The Conclusion

There you have it.

If you’re looking on advice on how to start running when overweight, then my running plan is perfect for you. The rest is just details.

Thank you for stopping by.

Keep training strong.

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29 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Running for Fat People: Tips, Advice, and Inspiration”

  1. Some of this information is good but the language in this article is very offensive. Want to empower someone who is overweight? Don’t call them fat.

  2. I am looking for competitive race times for runners who are in the heavyweight + category!!
    For me (males 226 pounds+ PRs: 2.5KM 11:39 3KM 13:56 5KM 22:58 8KM 39:15 and 10 KM 45:53).
    Let me know ASAP!

  3. this must be the clearest guide for a starter. i used to run a lot. got old and fat over 20 years and forgot how to take care of oneself. liked your words and clearly put instructions. not a fan of large readings or rigid plans. i think this write-up can’t be beat.

  4. Thanks this is encouraging. Don’t mind the other person’s comment. I’m facing the truth: I’m fat, and no euphemism is gonna change that. Better to call a spade a bloody shovel, than an ‘earth relocating implement’

  5. I am a real health nut and at one time wore TWO sweatshirts:
    1) ME: 1962-21? (This implied longevity)
    Number 1 definitely relates to my obsession with physical fitness!!!

  6. Hey Krysti, when we use the word overweight in common parlance, are we usually referring to people with overly much muscle? Or are their organs heavier? No, overweight means overfat the majority of the time. To say that one is fat is not always pejorative; this article certainly is not fat shaming but trying to help ALL of us be healthier.

  7. Hi! This is actually a really great article. I am a woman over 300lbs and have always wanted to run. I am going to start walking for 4 weeks (Starting tomorrow) from what you suggested and go from there. I hired a Nutritionist and doing strength training. I am even going to buy this Blueprint to learn everything about running because I am that determined to get this weight off and run. PS Not offended at all being called fat! I am realistic and I am what I am…fat and unhealthy. What matters is that we do something about it!

  8. I just stumbled upon this article to look for tips to help me get started running and I actually want to thank you for using the word fat. There is such a stigma not only around fat bodies but use of the word fat, and to be fair it has been and is used as a pejorative to insult people. But the reality is that some bodies are fat and by using the word fat to describe myself I am merely using a descriptor. Fat is not a bad word and the longer it’s is used negatively instead of neutrally the longer it gets to be weaponized. Fat doesn’t mean lazy, ugly, unclean etc. it’s just another word we have to describe ourselves. I hope to use descriptor “fat runner” soon.

  9. I really appreciated the honesty here. The facts are: I’m fat and I want to run. I see a huge difference in “meanspo” or cruelty (ie you’re a disgusting fatty, etc), and facing a reality (ie I am in a body that is fat). I don’t feel any judgment here, just encouraging words. Yeah, my body is large, but that doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my goal. Thanks for the article man!

  10. I have always wanted to be a runner. I always held myself back because it was hard and I was fat and ashamed of myself. I remember going out for a run and these kids called me “Whale” and I just stopped and went home and hid away. Your article and directions make sense and I can’t wait to get home and start walking and work up to running. Thank you so much for this I feel encouraged and ready to start this new chapter and become a runner.

  11. This is one of the most helpful articles I’ve read as a fat woman just starting to run. I have a running plan that was created by a very lean distance runner. I’m supposed to be able to run 20 minutes at a time by now and I simply can’t. My lung capacity isn’t there and I have far more to move than she does.

  12. Thank you for your inspiring words. I’m 56 and have wanted to run for awhile now but my weight has kept me back. After reading this I am inspired again, thank you!!!!

  13. Thank you, this is great! I am in my 50’s, fat and just started crossfit with my daughter. I got my ass handed to me last night as running featured heavily in the session. I will be starting to use your tips tomorrow…I need a day of recovery first. I hope to be able to feel like a runner soon, improve my fitness and start loosing weight. BTW “Fat” is not an offensive word, unfortunately at times it is merely a reality some of us need to embrace, and correct.

  14. This is all the encouragement I need to get my running shoes on again. I’m fat and owning that fact! I used to run and really want to feel the sense of freedom and joy that I used to get from it again. I’m going to start this week. Thank you for sharing this, and for using honest language in a non-pejorative way!

  15. David, thank you for this. The instructions are easy to follow, encouraging, and make my goal of someday running for fitness and weight loss feel attainable. So glad I found this.

  16. I think that you have all heard that AVRIL LAVIGNE. She has come back with a new hit: I’M A MESS!!
    AVRIL has been around since at least the mid 1990s. She had a hit back then called COMPLICATED!
    I remember that I was working for METRO SALVAGE in MISSISSAUGA while I was living with my brother in OAKVILLE as a METAL.SORTER/ BALER/POWER SAW METAL CUTTER and WIRE STRIPPER (November, 1994-February, 1996).
    I was the LOWEST paid guy there since I could not drive a forklift but still manged to sock away over 5 grand into my RRSP!!
    TODD COLLARD is from NAPANEE as well!
    I tied with TODD for 1st place I believe in the 2008 OKTOBERFEST RUN sponsored by THE WATERLOO RUNNING series at 23:42 for the 5KM run. We were both at 220 pounds+!!
    However, his 23:42 was a fraction of a second quicker so he got first place whereas I got 2nd.
    My PR is only 22:58 BUT I was at 226 pounds+!
    TODD ran a 5KM ln the low 20 minute range at 205 pounds!!
    I have heard of only a handful of Canadian runners in the 195 pound+ range to run a sub 20 minute 5KM run.
    TODD is also an EXCELLENT SOCCER player and is well known as an ALL ROUND ONTARIAN ATHLETE from NAPANEE!!

  17. Christopher Nowak BFA MLIS November 12, 2022 at 2:09 amReply
    I was a competitive runner and made the EXACT same mistake that ARIELLE did!
    Unfortunately, I am suffering from permanent consequences.
    I have modified my exercise program substantially.
    Instead of 20 minute to two hour runs a day and one hour workouts in the gym, I am doing light weight lifting, running on the spot and exercises I learned at my retirement home for 33 minutes every day early in the morning.
    I combine that with long walks.
    I go get a MEDIUM ENDORPHIN HIGH rather than an EXTREME ENDORPHIN HIGH when I was competing.
    I was a GUINEA PIG for a company that tried to cut costs for janitorial position for a VERY LARGE AREA.
    MULTIPLE janitors should have been hired!
    I developed SEVERE TENNIS ELBOW after 10 months of work.
    The directions were VAGUE!
    APPLY THE CREAM AFTER THE EXERCISE AND COOLING DOWN PERIOD!!,brands%20that%20contain%20methyl%20salicylate.

    We are led to believe via mainstream advertising that over-the-counter meds have very few toxic side effects. Sadly, your experience, and the evidence of the case involving the young track athlete, suggest otherwise. People need to be more conscientious in their application of both exercise stress levels and health care management. Thanks for adding to the discussion. TR

    Christopher Nowak BFA MLIS
    DECEMBER 25, 2022 AT 3:11 PM

    You are welcome!
    I am getting used to my NEW NORMAL at my retirement home and still keep in touch with one of my running buddies and the organiser for THE WATERLOO RUNNING series in Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA!!
    I shall always have fond memories of my “winning “running medals for males 200 pounds+ or MALES MASTERS: 40 years of age or older (58 and 81 overall if you include “FINISHER” medals).
    You are right about being more CONSCIENTIOUS about exercise and pain killer application!
    My inability to CONNECT THE DOTS was a HUGE MISTAKE!!
    I am surprised that the ARIELLE NEWMAN’S case is so rare!!

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