If you’re considering taking up running as a way to shed those extra pounds, then you’re already on your way to achieving your goals. But when you’re overweight or obese and want to know how to start running, it’s often a completely new ballgame all together.
Many people out there have the idea that running is a slim people’s exercise, but this certainly isn’t the case. Of course, there will be some challenges overweight people face when it comes to running, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With a little more planning and care overweight and even obese people can start racking up the miles.
Whether you’re looking to lose 150 pounds or 10, running is a great way to get the body active and firing on all cylinders once more – an essential part of any weight loss program.
For the overweight looking to get into it, it’s not a simple matter of lacing up and heading out. There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind if you hope to attain your goals safely, effectively, and as quickly as possible.
Here are a few pointers to help get you out on the track, park, footpath, backyard and just about anywhere you feel comfortable letting loose.
Your health is the number one priority here. It might in fact be a large part, if not the entire reason you’re looking to start running. It would defeat the whole point of this if you were to somehow hurt yourself or aggravate a pre-existing condition by doing so.
As a matter of fact, this is an important step to take for anyone who’s taking up running for the first time, but it counts for double when you’re overweight. Consulting your doctor before undertaking any physical exercises is ideal, especially as there is likely parts of your body that will feel shock from the sudden movement.
What you need to clue your doctor into is your running program and the goals you have in mind. They will be able to assess your plan for any potential dangers and health hazards. You’ll be able to go over any pre-existing conditions or injuries that might affect your plans as well.
Another major plus that comes with doing this, aside from identifying and ruling out potential dangers, is the fact that your physician will be able to give you valuable advice tailor-made to your current condition and the goals you have in mind. You can’t lose.
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Once you have permission from your doctor, the next step is to decide on your running format. By this I mean how and where do you plan on running. Concrete, bitumen, track, grass, sand, Gym etc.
When I first started running as a heavy person it was on a treadmill. Why?. Although I cover ‘ignoring outside influences’ below, the number one reason I decided to use a treadmill was for fear of criticism.
It’s easy to say ‘ignore the bullies’, but there are times when it still does hurt. After all, we are all human. So I decided I felt most comfortable running on a treadmill in the comfort and privacy of my own home.
The downside to this is that you need to push yourself as there are no personal trainers living in my house (as far as I’m aware). Staying motivated can be troublesome. So prepare for this in advance and you should be fine.
So while you need more personal resilience, the benefit of feeling comfortable while exercising is far greater for me. Some people will agree while others will disagree. The important thing is you do what you feel comfortable with.
If you do choose to run on a treadmill over outdoors or the Gym, the thing you need to consider is the weight capacity. Not all treadmills are created equal. There are many models that will simply buckle under the pressure of 250 pounds or more.
So you need a treadmill that is heavy duty and can actually hold your weight. Visit our section on heavy duty treadmills and you can find models that start with a minimum of 300 lbs weight capacity.
The benefits of using a treadmill are quite extensive. Not only do they offer you privacy, but many model offer a deck with suspension designed to reduce the impact running has on your knees and ankles. Which as a big person can be quite dramatic when running on a hard surface like concrete.
Every good bricklayer, painter or carpenter will tell you how important having a good set of tools is for any job, and the same goes for running. When a person wears the wrong shoes for their feet and style of running, there is an increased chance of injuries and general discomfort.
When it comes to those of us who’re overweight, the extra pressure on our joints makes the risks even more prevalent and the possible injuries more serious. Even if you choose to run on a treadmill, proper fitting shoes is extremely important.
Specialty running stores offer a great service here whereby trained staff will be able to analyze your gait and tell you exactly what type of shoe will work for your foot, body type, and gait.
They will tell you if you need extra cushioning, better arch support, or any other feature to help you run safely and effectively. You don’t have to buy the shoes there if you find it too expensive. Once you know what will work for you, you could always shop around for good deals online.
It’s understandable to want to start out strong and set huge goals immediately. I 100% get that, you’re still pumped up about starting your program and seeing results that you don’t consider the dangers of hitting the running track too hard.
There’s a very good chance you might end up doing too much too soon. I am a culprit of this with just about anything I set my sights on. So I personally know that going too hard too early can lead to hurting yourself or burning out before you reaching the end goal.
I know how easy it is to gain weight, become isolated and practically end up doing nothing. It becomes a endless cycle which can turn to depression and guilt. Before you know it years have passed by since you achieved anything greater than a casual walking pace.
So getting up, putting your shoes on and taking the first step is a HUGE deal. One not to be taken lightly and one not to be rushed.
So if you haven’t been exercising for a couple of months or longer, you should probably start out by walking. Whether it’s outside, on a treadmill as mentioned above, or even in a pool, consistency will be the most important factor here.
Begin with as little as 5 minutes each time if that’s what you can manage comfortably. As you keep at it, you will find longer sessions start to become easier, and once you can get yourself up to 30 continuous minutes, you should be quite able to kick up into a run.
Once you’ve got yourself used to an exercise routine through walking for incremental times, you might be ready to for the run/walk routine, which is a great way to build up your running endurance both safely and comfortably.
Carry this out by starting each session with a brisk walk for ten minutes in order to get your heart rate up, which gets the blood flowing to all the muscles you’ll be using as you run.
Once this is done, start with a 1-minute run, then walk for the next 2 minutes. Don’t let your walk be completely relaxed, it should look and feel more like a power walk so that you’ll still be getting some exercise done although you’re resting up a little bit.
Alternate between the running and walking as described above for 20 to 30 minutes, and then finish it all up with a power walk of about 5 minutes.
Treadmills that have built in programs or can be custom controlled are great for this as they allow you to walk and run in set increments to suit your level of fitness. Also with the incline feature you can increase the difficulty ever so slightly yet get amazing results.
Pretty soon, you’ll see your 1-minute runs start to get easier, which will be the signal for you to either lengthen them or decrease the walking intervals. The results of your hard work will be beginning to show. Your legs will be becoming stronger and the muscles you never knew you had will start to prosper.
After you see and feel results you might decide to stick with this method as a long-term weight loss strategy, or you might choose to try and get your running intervals to a full 30 minutes skipping the walking stage altogether.
When you are up to this stage you will know what feels right for you. Some people prefer to run for a solid 30 minutes whereas I prefer a brisk walk before and after running. Running is hard work, especially as I’m overweight, but it does work.
One of the biggest obstacles facing runners who don’t fit the stereotypical jogger’s physique is the fear of being judged or ridiculed while out on a run. As easy as it is for me to say this; don’t let this scare you off, the reality is you need to build on your own self worth and confidence. But it’s important to know you are not alone.
The fact is, runners, walkers, and joggers love to see other people putting in work to improve their health and well being, whatever their size, speed, or shape. If you get any judgment or ridicule from non-runners, even if it’s from your own friends, family, or colleagues, remember that you’re doing this for yourself and that most criticism comes from their own insecurities and jealousy. Maybe they wish they had the guts to do what you’re doing, and are just too ashamed to admit it.
Use any negative energy coming your way as fuel to push you along the track. It might be tough in the beginning, but it will definitely get easier as you go along, and the benefits will be more than worth it in the end.
The key to success when running as a fat person like myself is take it at your own pace. Avoid comparing yourself to an athlete that has been running for years. It’s not only discouraging but it can severely impact your self belief.
If you are running to lose weight or for health reasons, when you tell yourself you’re too fat and you will never be able to compare to such standards, chances are you will quit.
It’s not a race, running when overweight should be taken at a pace you feel comfortable with. No one should be judging you on you speed, distance gained etc. Even if you are running with a group of people and you are coming dead last, who cares. The point is you are out there making something of yourself and every step you take is one step closer to a healthier you.
With the right equipment, attitude and people around you anything can be achieved. It is certainly not impossible for an obese person to come back and become one of the fittest persons in the town.
Believing in yourself and taking the small steps are how you run as an overweight person. Don’t risk injury, consult your doctor and use a treadmill if you need to. There is absolutely no shame in trying to better your life. Don’t let anyone try and take this away from you.