Injury Prevention Tips For Overweight Runners

The fat man was running up the stairs. He lost weight.

Whether you just took up running to lose weight or are already an established runner in the Clydesdale category, pounding the pavement when you’re overweight is tricky.

Sure, runners come in all sizes and shapes, but when you’re many pounds over the norm, you’ll need to take a few more extra measures to help stay pain-free and healthy.

To get the most bang out of your miles, follow these four guidelines for heavier runners to stay consistent and keep pounding the pavement without injury.

Let’s lace up and dig in.

The Run Walk Method

When you take up running, and exercise in general, it’s key to start slow then build the duration, intensity, and frequency gradually. Do too much too soon, and it will lead you to injury.

So how do you apply this in practice as an overweight beginner?

Simple. Start with the walk/run method. The walk-run is easy, straightforward, and an effective method for increasing running motivation, improving endurance, and avoid injury. It also burns a lot of calories.

Here’s how the method should look like for a beginner runner:

Warm-up. Walk briskly for 10 to 15 minutes to increase your core temperature and get the blood flowing to your working muscles.

Run/walk. Alternate running for 30 to 60 seconds with walking for one minute for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep the walk an active rest, not a complete break. Walk with power. Walk with purpose. Repeat the cycle for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool-down. Walk slowly for 10 minutes to bring your heart rate down and calm down your breathing.

As your jogging intervals become easier, increase the length and frequency of run intervals, and reduce the lings of your walks. Keep doing this till you can run straight for 25 to 30 minutes.

Keep increasing the time spent running until you can run for about 20 minutes at an easy pace without any walk breaks.

Note—If you can’t run for a few minutes at a time, then you should first invest a few weeks into a walking routine. Once you’ve built up your fitness by walking, get started with the run-walk method.

Do More…But Slowly

Once you have built a good cardio base with your walk/run, make your training more challenging by increasing your distance or intensity during your runs.

This not only helps improve your fitness even more but also boost your calorie burn and prevent you from getting bored with your training.

So distance or intensity?

I recommend that you focus on distance first. Forget about speed and intensity. To err on the side of caution, increase your mileage following the 10 percent rule. For example, if your running 10 miles the first week, do just 11 miles the next week, and so on.

Get the Right Shoes

You might be tempted to skip this one because you already have walking or cross-training shoes, but using ill-fitting and/or improper shoes—as in shoes that don’t fit your feet and running style—can lead to general discomfort, even injuries.

What’s more?

When you’re obese, the additional pressure on your muscles and joints can make you even more prone to injuries, so it’s critical that you get the right pair for the job.

Go for running shoes with a midsole that’s on the firm side. Denser midsole made with EVA or polyurethane material offers more protection on impact for your body and last longer than lighter weight fabrics.

You might also consider shoes with additional cushioning, enough arch support, or some other special feature.

To find the right sole-mate, head to the nearest specialty running store where trained staff can assess your gait and suggest the best options for your running gait, foot type, and body type. As a rule, your feet should fit snug in the heel, while leaving a little wiggle room around your toes.

Listen to your Body

The most important thing to do to prevent injury when starting running as an overweight beginner is never run through pain.

In fact, if you avoid running through pain, you can nip injuries in the bud. Adopt the “no pain, no gain” philosophy, you’ll achieve one thing and one thing only—set yourself up for injury.

If you’re feeling pain, skip a run and take a few days off, then return to your previous level and stage. Seek medical attention if symptoms don’t improve after a few days off.

What’s more?

Most running injuries are overuse injuries—they don’t come out of nowhere and blindside. They come with their own set of warning signals and symptoms—that includes aches, pains, persistent soreness, etc. If you dismiss your body’s feedback and fail to take the appropriate action, you’ll be heading in the wrong direction.


There you have it! These cover some of the most efficient injury prevention tips for heavy runners. Now it’s just a matter of putting them into practice and doing the hard work without overtaxing your body. The rest is just details.

What about you? Do you have any overweight runners beginner tips you swear by? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.


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