Like many people, I didn’t set out to be overweight. I’m a plus size woman who sets realistic goals to be healthier and I strive to stay active. I’ve been running since 2012 and running is a big passion of mine. No matter what you think, you don’t have to be athletic or “in shape” to start running. You can start running no matter what your size! I’m back with more overweight running tips to share how you can start running at any size. These plus size running tips will help you get out the door and give you an actionable plan while preventing injury.
How I Became A Runner
To start any long term fitness plan, there needs to be motivation behind it. You need something that is going to inspire you to lace up your shoes and get out the door. For me, that was Run Disney. The idea of running through Cinderella’s Castle (while dressed up like a princess) and enjoying a vacation, was enough motivation to sign up for my first half marathon.
I was so nervous at my first race. I had plenty of misconceptions about running. I thought walking was not allowed. I thought everyone would be in great shape and I thought everyone had to be fast. To my pleasant surprise, none of these things are true. In fact, the running community is very welcoming to everyone.
I wasn’t an overweight runner when I started in 2012. However, with the birth of my two kids, I became an overweight runner. Every time I took a break from running, I had to learn how to start running at my new size. With each birth, I was starting to run at a new and higher weight.
No matter what my size, the motivation was always the same. I figured out new ways to adapt to my size change. As your body changes (whether you’re losing weight or gained weight) it changes the way you run. I’ve learned some great tips to help me be a successful overweight runner. I can cross the finish lines, feel better about my health, socialize with other mother runners and do it all without injury.
How To Start Running At Any Plus Size
The good news: you’re not alone. The running community is full of shapes and sizes. There are some great plans, developed by professional athletes (and former Olympians) that can help you achieve a goal. That’s step one: set a goal. Whether it’s to run your first 5k or just run your first mile since high school, set a goal that you want to achieve.
How To Set A New Running Goal
Like Run Disney was to me, setting a goal will help you with a focus. Look at something that inspires you. Maybe you want to run for a favorite charity, run at a dream travel destination or have your kids watch you cross a finish line. The bigger the goal, the longer you’ll need to train. A half marathon is going to take you 16+ weeks to train for, where a 5k can be achieved within a few months.
If you do decide to set a lofty goal, divide it into smaller achievements. I ran a 5k, 10k and 15k race before my half marathon. Those races helped me prepare for the bigger goal and helped me feel accomplished as I trained for the half marathon.
Being Prepared With The Proper Running Gear
One of the biggest frustrations new runners face is problems with their gear. The wrong pants can roll down while running, shorts can ride up and cause chafing, sports bras can restrict your breathing and the wrong shoe size will cause blisters.
How To Buy Running Shoes
Start from the bottom up. Go to your local running store to get properly fitted for shoes – Fleet Feet has stores nationwide to do fittings. If you have any previous foot conditions, like Plantar Fasciitis, talk to your Podiatrist about their shoes recommendations. Researching will help you make the best possible purchase. I wear Hoka One One shoes because I need the stability and support. Be sure to purchase from a running store that will offer 100% money-back in case they don’t fit well. While you’re at it: don’t skimp on the socks. Socks that are designed for runners ease friction, offer support and are sweat-wicking. I swear by Feetures Running Socks (affiliate link).
Where To Buy Running Clothes That Stay Put
I feel fast and cute when I wear a running skirt. It’s one of my favorite must-have pieces of running gear. However, that wasn’t always the case. I went through many different brands to find the running clothes that I love. I have a master list of Plus Size Running Clothes Every Curvy Girl Needs – definitely check that out for my up-to-date favorite picks.
Here are a list of some of my favorite brands for plus size running clothes:
- Athleta – they’ve got great plus size running tops (very stylish and upscale fabrics)
- Nike – their running pants and capris won’t roll down from your waist
- Old Navy – they’re a sister brand to Athleta, so you can get the same styles for less money
- Bolder Athletic Wear – If you love wearing a running skirt, I SWEAR by these. Only running skirt I will wear.
When you’re running, you want to prevent as much friction and rubbing from your clothes (and your body). I’ve had incidents where my sports bras rub in the wrong places, which causes painful chafing. I rub Body Glide (affiliate link) on my feet (before putting my shoes on), on my bra line area and in-between my thighs. It’s a CRUCIAL step before running!
The Best Training Plans For Beginner Overweight Runners
Once you’re all set to start running, it’s time to pick a training plan. A training plan offers the support you need, from professionals, to start slow and build your endurance. Pick a training plan that works with your goal, fits with your schedule and doesn’t overexert you. As a beginner, it’s important to prevent injury and start slow.
Couch To 5k Program
The Couch To 5k program offers flexibility and it’s designed for people who have never run a day before in their lives. In eight weeks, you’ll go from not running at all to running a 5k distance (3.1 miles). A sensible program and I like that it doesn’t focus on speed or weight loss. You can even download a Couch to 5k app that sends out instructions while you’re running and lets you track your progress. It’s like having a coach in your ear.
Jeff Galloway Run, Walk, Run Method
This is the method of training that I’ve trusted since I started to run in 2012. Jeff Galloway, who is a former Olympian, developed this method to increase runner’s endurance while decreasing injury. After many case studies, he discovered that runners were actually faster with walk breaks. He trains many athletes who are training for big races, like the Boston Marathon, and his method is very approachable for all levels of runners.
The Galloway Method is most intriguing as a new runner, because taking a walk break makes the distance seem more manageable. It gives you a minute to catch your breath, slow your pace or even grab a sip of water. Over the years, my speed as increased by using this method. YES! Walking breaks actually made me faster. It’s how I finished my first full WDW Marathon too.
I highly recommend reading his book “The Run Walk Run Method” (affiliate link) and purchasing a Gym Boss Timer (affiliate link). There is also Easy 5k App where he coaches you through the run walk run method, while you’re training and it keeps track of the intervals for you.
Add Cross Training
It doesn’t matter what program you pick, you’ll need to add some cross training. Strength training for runners offers the support your muscles need. For example, a strong core can greatly improve your running skills. Stretching will help prevent soreness and aid in muscle recovery as well. Don’t skimp on the cross training because you want to prevent injury.
Staying Motivated When You’re Running At Any Size
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to look beyond weight loss. Don’t expect to naturally lose weight, just from starting a new running program. It takes a calorie deficit and proper nutrition to support weight loss. In fact, sometimes runners gain weight while training ::gasp:: because they’re overcompensating through calories. Every 1 mile burns about 100 calories (give or take depending on the person). So you can easily undo your hard work, by overeating, after a workout.
To stay motivated, think about the other benefits that running can offer you. For me, it’s a social outlet and an excuse to travel. I’ve run races with my kids and even got my Husband to start running with me.
Top Benefits To Running (That Aren’t Weight Loss):
- Friendship (run with a friend or join a local running club)
- Increased endurance for everyday activities
- Healthier heart
- Better mental health
- Excuse to travel
- Better sleep
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Once you feel the success that comes along with completing your first mile or your first race, you’ll be addicted. It’s easy to feel a “high” sensation after you’ve accomplished something you never though you could do. I think that’s why you’ll always see runners of all shapes and sizes. Humans have a deep desire to tackle a new goal and to feel satisfaction. That cycle will repeat itself and, before you know it, you’ll have a 26.2 sticker on the back of your car.