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I like to call myself the jiggly runner, the fast fatty! I love the looks of skinny people in the train station on the escalator, staring in amazement as I quickly bound up a flight of 50 steps!
I’m 256 pounds and 5’6″, which is morbidly obese (9 more pounds lost and I will be merely “obese,” hooray). Last week I ran a little over a mile on the treadmill. I’m signed up for my first “live” 5K in a little over a month, which I’m hoping to complete in an hour or less. I don’t win medals for speed, but I do run longer and faster than many people that I know.
When people question me about Couch to 5K (C25K) and how a big girl like me can do it, they inevitably state:
“But I’m too fat to run! Maybe I’ll try later when I lose some weight…”
I’ve been fat for an entire lifetime, but I’m not waiting until I lose weight to run. Running is going to help me shed these pounds. A coordinated running program keeps me on a tight schedule, and the 5K looming on the horizon is incentive enough to make me want to finish in style.
Are you too fat to run?
Well, first of all, everyone should get the advice of their doctor before starting an exercise program. I may be a big girl, but I’m considerably young (now 29), and (knock on wood) I have no other health concerns such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, et cetera.
Also, I can run longer than some of my skinny friends, so some might consider me a “fit fatty.” It’s important to note that large size does not necessarily indicate “extremely unfit” and small size does not always equate “super fit.” These are misconceptions that skinny people, in their never-ending quest to subjugate the fatties (kidding, kidding) have propagated to make them feel better about their Olive Oyl physiques.
If you are fit to run, here are My Top 3 reasons for trying C25K:
1. You will lose weight.
2. You will develop fitness, stamina, and balance.
3. You will impress yourself.
So if you’ve decided to take the plunge and start running, here are my thoughts for running while obese:
1. C25K is hard but rewarding. I’m not going to lie to you. It will be harder for you as an obese person to run this program. Duh. We are carrying more weight and most of us haven’t run in a very long time (if at all). I had an irrational fear of lifting my foot off the pavement for a very long time, and it’s very easy to psyche yourself out. But you can do it. And when you run for a prolonged amount of time after finding it difficult to run for one minute in the first week, it’s a huge rush!
2. It will take you more than 9 weeks, most likely. C25K is officially a 9-week program, but I estimate that 90% of the people who finish do not finish in 9 weeks. Life happens, and we might have to skip a week and go back. Or Week 4 might be busting your butt, and you need to repeat it. It’s inevitable. AND IT’S OK.
3. You do not have to run a 12-minute mile. I consider “running” to be anything where you cannot physically continue at that pace without lifting one foot fully off the ground before placing the other one in its place. Depending on your stride and fitness level, this could be anything from 3.5-5.0+ miles per hour. You’re not training for speed, so don’t worry about it. Run at a pace that is comfortable. It is much better to complete a 5-minute run at 4.2 mph than to fizzle out in the middle at 5 mph.
4. People will watch you… mostly in amazement. You’re a big person. You’re running. Given the general stereotype of a runner, you’re an anomaly. It is OK. Most of the time, people will be watching you because they are inspired and amazed at your abilities. I’ve gotten so many supportive comments from surprised people who watch me run. A woman who must have been no more than 120 pounds who was walking on the treadmill saw me stopping and starting and complimented me and asked what I was doing. I told her about C25K and she said she was going to try it herself.
Other times, people will be close-minded and thinking “Look at that fatty run!” Listen, you’re overweight and people can be cruel. I’m sure you know this by now. If you were sitting on the street corner eating a Twinkie, a passerby will probably think or say “You eat that Twinkie, fatty! Put on that weight!” If you were sitting on the corner eating a rice cake, someone will probably think or say, “You eat that rice cake, fatty! Lose that weight!” It’s a no-win situation. It was my lot in high school, and it was probably yours as well.
Defy expectations. Run for yourself.
5. Get your gear. Get a pair of bike shorts or tight spandex pants. It is by far the easiest thing to run in and keeps those thighs from rubbing together while you run. It is way easier than trying to run in a pair of sweatpants. Ladies, purchase the tightest sports bra you can find because you don’t want those puppies to bounce more than necessary.
6. Enjoy the run! Plot out new routes, find a running partner, switch up music and songs, and take it at your own pace. See what works for you!
As always, let me know if I can help you in any way! Stay tuned for Part Two of this series!
Happy trails! Kristina G. is 29, hails from the Boston area, and has been “sparked” since June 2009, when she couldn’t run a minute, nevermind a 5K. Since then, she has run two 5Ks and is working on her first 10K and half marathon. Her cause has been to convince larger runners that they don’t have to wait until they lose more weight to start running! She co-leads two SparkTeams, Half Marathoners and the Couch to 5K Group. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling locally and abroad and writing fiction and commentary. Her favorite outdoor activities are kayaking, swimming, hiking, and running.
Are you a runner? Did this blog post change your mind about running?