How To Start Running When Overweight? Tips to Get Fit and Confident

How To Start Running When Overweight

Taking up running when overweight is a great way to achieve a healthier BMI. Not only will your overall health improve, but you’ll also improve your confidence and mental health.

That being said, it can be quite difficult to initiate and stick to. You may find that you come up against many challenges such as chafing, joint pain, difficulty breathing, and motivation. 

This is why you need to ensure that you are fully prepared before you begin.

Running can be intimidating when you are overweight. Nevertheless, it is one of the best ways to improve your health and fitness. To help you get started, here are some tips.

Consult with your doctor: Before starting any new exercise program, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe for you.

Start slowly: The biggest mistake is trying to do too much too soon (been there!). Don’t even try to run at first. Just walk! Only run for short periods between walks. Just a few steps to get started. Gradually increase your distance and intensity as your fitness improves, which might take months.

Wear proper shoes: Invest in a good pair of running shoes. You need support and cushioning to protect your joints (you don’t want any injuries when starting out).

Stay hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your runs to help prevent dehydration.

Use good form: Good running form can help reduce the impact on your joints and prevent injury. Keep your head up and shoulders relaxed, and take short, quick steps.

Be patient and stay consistent: It’s important to be patient and consistent with your training. With time and dedication, you can safely and effectively improve your fitness through running.

Wearing the correct running clothes and footwear, starting small and building your way up, along with setting goals and rewards will all be essential. 

Throughout this article, we will go over the necessary steps that you will need to take if you are overweight and want to begin running regularly. 

Running When Overweight: Preparation

Preparation for running is key. Before you begin running you’ll need to kit yourself out with the correct clothing and footwear. You should also always speak to your doctor about your running plan. 

1. Speak To A Doctor

Anyone who starts running, but specifically those who are overweight, should consult with their doctor first.

This way you can be ascertained for any health issues, injuries, or pre-existing conditions that may affect your running program. 

2. Clothing & Footwear

You won’t stick to running regularly if you are consistently uncomfortable. Therefore you will want to purchase the right running clothes and shoes. Many sports stores will offer a variety of running clothing.

What you’re ideally looking for are items that will prevent chafing. The main cause of chafing is sweat.

Your skin, clothes, and sweat rub and create painful areas, particularly around the inner thigh or underarm. You’ll want to opt for fabrics that wick sweat away from the body.

You can also purchase running tights that will help as well as anti-chafing lubricants. 

Extra weight can cause strain and pressure on your joints which can make you more prone to injuries. Your best option would be to purchase running shoes from a running specialty store.

Trained salespeople will then advise the best option for your gait, foot, and body type. 

Can I Run If I’m Overweight and Out of Shape?

Yes, it is possible to start running if you are overweight and out of shape. But remember, running isn’t something you just jump into. It is essential to be patient and walk slowly at first.

Patience and consistency are the keys to success here. The more time and dedication you put into walking, the better your fitness will be. Walking prepares your body for running! And being a runner has nothing to do with your size. You’re like every other new runner.

If you are morbidly obese and suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, consult your healthcare provider before starting out.

Build-Up To Running When Overweight: Start Slowly

There are two main strategies for starting your running program. One – start small. Two – the run/walk alternation. 

1. Start Small

Aiming too high will result in you hurting yourself or giving up. It is important to start off small and then build up to running later.

If you have not exercised for longer than two months, it would be advisable to start off walking. 

This can be outdoors, in the gym, or in a pool. But to begin with, you should only go for as long as you can manage.

Even if this is just 10-15 minutes. Consistency will yield results. The more often you do this you’ll notice you can walk for longer distances or periods of time. 

2. Run/Walk Alternation 

Once your fitness level has improved you can begin to slowly introduce running. This will improve your endurance in a way that is comfortable and safe. Initiate your session with a brisk 10-minute walk.

When your body has warmed up enough, you can then alternate between walking for a minute and running for a minute.

Make sure that you ‘fast walk’ or ‘powerwalk’ during your walking minutes – it’s a rest but not a break. Continue this cycle for about 15-20 minutes and then end the session with a 5-minute walk as your cool down. 

How To Start Running When Overweight (1)

Tips on the Next Level as a Heavier Runner

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk

Once you have built up your endurance levels, you can start to begin thinking about longer exercises.

  • You can still alternate between walking and running (it’s not a sin to walk).
  • Aim to run for longer amounts of time with each session.

There is no need to even think that you need to run the whole exercise. It’s perfectly fine to alternate between walking and running.

Strength Training for Support

Adding strength training to your routine can help endurance levels. You should aim to have at least 1-2 strength training sessions weekly.

This will help you to burn extra calories and increase lean muscle mass which will make running easier. This type of training will also act as running injury prevention. 

Motivation is the Key for Every Runner

Without proper motivation, it is unlikely that you will stick to your running program. There are many strategies that can help to keep you motivated. Some runners opt for a running buddy.

This way you are committed to another runner and not just yourself. This way you are less likely to pull out or ignore your schedule. 

Setting small and achievable goals with appropriate rewards is another great method. This will not only help you to track your progress and assess how you are improving but also gives you something to strive towards. 

Issues & Solutions

Some common issues that overweight runners will come across are trouble breathing, shin splints, and runner’s knee. Luckily, there are ways to overcome these issues. 

  • Trouble Breathing – If you are struggling with breathing, try rhythmic breathing. Inhale for three steps and then exhale for two and repeat. This can improve lung capacity. 
  • Shin Splints – If you tend to get shooting pain in your lower legs you’ll need to rest and try a cold compress. Adding strength training, warming up, and proper stretching can help prevent shin splints. 
  • Runner’s Knee – If you get knee pain or weak knees when running, rest and ice will be the remedy. Slowly building up speed and strength can help prevent this. 

Final Thoughts

Never let weight stop you from starting running if you wish to do so. As long as you follow a strategic plan, prepare properly, build up to more intense exercise, and keep yourself motivated, it is possible.  

Just ensure that your plans are representative and realistic of your current fitness level.

From here you can work your way up as you become more active. Remember that you should always consult a medical professional before initiating any new running plans. 

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