Overweight? That’s Ok, You Too Can Start Running!
You are overweight or obese, SO WHAT! I get sick and tired of hearing people tell me they wish they could run but they are too big. My other favourite excuse is “AFTER I lose some weight I am going to join a gym.”
Why wait? Years ago you learned to walk. After some time crawling, you pulled yourself up and took a first step. Well, it is that time again.
I am no running expert, just someone who enjoys it and wants to share. After several sedentary years, at 250 pounds (113.4 kilos), I decided it was time for my first step. I want to share what I’ve learned. Many of the tips below are going to be tips any beginner can use, but some are things I learned being a fat kid.
Go See Your Physician
If you have never been physically active you should get a physical to make sure you have no health risks that would prevent you from running. If you have been active and have just never thought you could run, you should be ok, but please make sure your family does not sue me if something happens to you.
Positive Mental Attitude
Also known as PMA is going to be the key to success above all else. There are going to be days you don’t want to exercise, but you need to get up and do it. Some days will make you tired and some days you will feel slow. We have all been through this, it gets better. It is not easy, but the accomplishment is worth it.
Start walking- inside, outside, in water, on a treadmill. It makes no difference, just get your body used to labor. Work up to continuous forward motion for 30 minutes. If you can go for an hour go for it. Try to move faster.
Get Geared Up
One important thing to that can make or break you experience is proper clothing. As you begin walking wearing just about anything will do; however, once we start running you will discover a new level of sweating.
In order to remain comfortable you want to begin thinking about synthetic material. These will pull sweat away from your body; it’s called wicking. They are also light and this will help in the long run AND make you feel good. Different people may have different needs; it will be up to you to determine what combination of wicking socks, shorts, underwear, and shirts you want to wear. At a minimum I suggest a non-cotton shirt to begin with. For larger people I also suggest a compression shirt. When I first started running it made me feel self conscious as I felt my chest and stomach bounce. A compression shirt will stop this.
Along the same lines, women need a properly fitted sports bra. Go to a sports store if you need help with this. Also consider researching the topic of layering so you can get the proper combination of clothing for your climate.
Time for Your First Steps
Start of your running program by running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes. This walk is called an active rest. Repeat for 30 minutes. Once you are comfortable increase to 2 minutes of running and a 2 minute rest, now 2 minutes running with 1 minute rest. Work up to 15 minutes running, 1 minute rest and repeat. It will be slow at first, more like a jog.
Speed will come in time. Try this twice a week and once comfortable increase to 3. Soon you will run without the breaks. I suggest you start outside just because, if you ever want to move to running outside it makes for an easier transition.
Many people who run, even some marathoners started out with similar programs. Some even started with whatever footwear they had. Once you start logging miles, shoes not designed for this punishment will deteriorate.
Take my advice and get a quality pair of running shoes. You can get them at a sports store, but a running store will measure and observe you and make sure they get the right pair of shoes for you, your arches, and gait. They may even give you tips on better ways to lace and tie your shoes. It is unbelievable the difference the right pair of shoes, insoles, or orthotics can make.
Take a Break
Rest is very important for growth. Do not pile workout over workout, your body needs time to heal. In fact you need to get rest in order to become better. You may decide to rest by cross training. This may include cycling, swimming, rowing, weight training, or the elliptical machine. Cross training is a good way to improve, but log at least 1 zero day a week where you simply rest. As you start out you will need 2 or possibly 3 zero days. Injuries will cause setbacks.
I claim to be no nutritionist, but I can tell you that I know many people run to lose weight. If you are doing this there is a chance you are also dieting. Remember to make sure you are getting balanced meals because your body will need the vitamins. If you are on a reduced calorie diet, realize that as your calorie expenditure increase you will reach an apex and weight loss will stop. It seems counter intuitive but you may need to increase your calories to support your exercise and continue to lose weight. I personally have made this mistake.
Once you are consistently running you may need to take steps to keep it interesting. You will not be successful if it becomes boring and more work than fun. There are many things you can do to make this more interesting.
For instance, if you have not been running with music, change your course from day to day and explore, try running trails, join a running club, set distance or speed goals and research training plans, take trips to local attractions just to run (like parks and nature preserves), or sign up for a race.
Also, consider keeping a training log. Do more than log your times and mile, but remember to write down how you feel. You will be able to look back and enjoy your improvements.