Posted by: Joe English | July 4, 2010

Training — Overweight and Starting a Running Program

running-advice-bugA reader of another forum named Debra wrote in with the following question:


Q: My question is all about running. I’ve just read that if you are fat and overweight that you shouldn’t run because it’s just too much strain on the joints. But I’ve also heard/read people say that anyone can run regardless of size. Also, there seems to be varying advice about how often to run. Daily is OK says some yet others will say never run two days in a row. I’m a newbie, overweight runner and have no idea what to believe. What’s the scoop on running safely?

A: First, let’s start by clearing up something that might help with the first part of your question: there a plenty of fat runners. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either not a runner or has never been to a running race. I say these with a certain amount of glee, because so many people have an image in their heads of the “skinny runner” and today the spectrum of people that run spans every imaginable body type. (The subject of WHY there are fat runners is another topic that we won’t go into today.)

So if there are fat runners, then that leads right into your question: how does one start running when they are overweight in a manner that will lead to successful, weight loss inducing, injury-free running and even a modicum of happiness? I’ll give you five tips on the subject that I hope will answer this question and debunk a few more myths in the process.

Tip 1: start slowly, be patient — I realize the double-entendre when I’m advising you to start slowly, but I’m not so much talking about speed here. What I mean is that when you take on a running program, take it in small bites and let the results happen over time. The worst thing any new runner can do is to go and start running say 4-5 miles a day, every day. Within a week, you’ll sitting with ice-bags on your shins wondering what went wrong. Start out with just one to two minutes of running interspersed with one to two minute walking breaks. Doing five run intervals and five walk breaks would take just 20 minutes and this should be a great place to start. If that’s too much, do even less. The important thing is to start small.

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