Think You're Too Big to Run? Think Again


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/25/2010 3:14 PM   :  404 comments   :  128,269 Views

Editor's note: SparkPeople member KARVY09 wrote this blog post last year, just a few months into her weight-loss plan. Since joining SparkPeople, she has taken up running and dropped from 279 pounds to 212 pounds--and she's still going. She received such positive feedback on her blog that we asked her to share it on the dailySpark.

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?

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  • RW2002
    This is giving me hope as I too an obese. - 9/5/2015   9:17:34 PM
    I've been struggling all my life with weight loss. Recently I climbed to my max of 285 pounds. The elliptical that I have isn't being used much as it is so hot in my home that it reaches 95 degrees with the fans on! I mainly use it irregularly from fall to mid spring when its cool enough to use it. So a week ago, I got fed up with the weight and I started running. I usually wait til the evening as I like to run down in an area where there are warehouses that close at 5pm, so there's no traffic and no laugh at me, lol. The pain in my shins and feet were the least upsetting. It was the pain in my lungs that got to me. I could barely breathe after running two blocks. I have to take turns running a bit then walking. I don't have any respiratory problems, so it came as a shock. I could easily run more if it were not for the desperate gasps of air that I could not get in my lungs fast enough! the lack of oxygen intake gets me in a dizzy state and I have to stop. hopefully over time it will improve my cardiovascular endurance. I've been immediately taking in unflavored whey protein isolate with berries right after my so called run, hoping it would help me recover faster and lower the pain. I usually go for an hour and finish with a soaked shirt and sweat dripping from my fingers. - 7/1/2015   11:46:16 PM
  • 402
    Oh WOW! I am so encouraged! Thanks for the motivation. - 4/17/2015   1:29:21 PM
  • 401
    Thanks Karvy. I have participated in our local running event for 4 years. I am 325 pounds. I did my first half marathon at 350 in 4 hours. Last year I was 325 and shaved 15 minutes off my time. It is awesome to cross the line, hear your name called out and be recognised for your success in finishing an event no matter how long it takes. I just came back to sparkpeople and am actively using it to get ready for this year's half marathon where I hope to get my time down to 3:30. Thanks for your encouragement. - 3/28/2015   7:12:00 AM
    I'm training for my first 5k and I can run for two miles but by my last mile a get tired and walk jog. But I'm not giving up. - 3/25/2015   4:05:23 PM
  • 399
    Awesome! This is so my story too!! And I now run a 5k once a month !--while being obese! - 3/11/2015   1:48:32 AM
    Thank you for your honesty and motivation. - 2/16/2015   7:33:51 PM
  • 397
    I tried to start the C25K when I hit 199# (from 266#) because I want to do a 5K this year. Sadly, it was the first time I've experienced real pain from exercise--my feet hurt, my hip hurts, my knees hurt--so I dropped it. I still REALLY want to do a 5K just to prove it to myself, but I don't know how to get there from here. :-( - 2/1/2015   9:45:51 AM
    I too have started running 5ft 10" and now 250 lbs (down 47 lbs). It is amazing what the body can do when you don't let your mind get in the way. Signed up for a color run in September can't wait. Thanks for being another big gal running on the roadways. - 6/13/2014   10:09:36 AM
    your FREAKING amazing! i made an account just to tell you this... thank your for being my motivation - 3/13/2014   6:03:05 PM
  • 394
    It's easier for someone who has been bigger all their lives than someone who has been active all their lives and became obese recently. I can't run and I'm no wear near that weight. I say, go for it if you can but if not, gradually work into it. =) - 10/11/2013   11:41:29 PM
  • 393
    I want to start running again and was really worried about people judging me, but after reading this I;m going to do it! Thank you for the inspiration! - 9/7/2013   1:50:23 PM
  • 392
    Amazing article. Truly inspiring. I love the way she's keeping things reallistic. Excellent. I'm going to try the C25K program. Thanks! - 8/26/2013   11:37:49 AM
  • 391
    Wow this is such a great blog thanks for the inspiration. People keep telling me to wait till i lose more weight since i am still a big girl. But i have been continuously excercising for almost 5 months now. I keep wanting to start running again because when i grew up i used to be a athlete and love to run and i miss it so much! Oh well i am going to stop listening to other people and not care what others think. Start running the program you suggested . Thanks i cried when i read this it is such a great inspiration!! Thanks again from the bottom of my heart! God Bless - 7/16/2013   9:19:31 AM
    Thanks so much for this share. It has totally turned around my view of my exercise program potential - 7/12/2013   11:31:05 AM
    I dream of being a runner. At 5'8" and 281 pounds it seems like a pretty far out dream. However, your blog inspired me. Actually, I was teary-eyed by the time I finished reading it. Today, I completed C25K Day 1 Week 1. Who knew 60 seconds could feel like an eternity? It was worth it though - it brightened my day today whenever I thought about having completed all 8 repetitions in full. Day 2 on Wednesday - look out. - 7/8/2013   8:48:36 PM
    Thank you so much for writing this!! I've always wanted to start running, but my shyness stopped me. Now I know I'm not the only one, and I can get over this fear. I've downloaded the C25K app and I'm starting today!! I'm going to bring my dog for support and to exercise with me, she's gonna love it :) - 6/11/2013   8:19:23 AM
    Thanks! So inspirational! - 5/31/2013   10:55:42 AM
  • 386
    I have been walking all winter but 2 weeks ago, when I was walking, there was nobody around , so I decided to do a little running. I quite enjoyed it and at the moment I can run 3 minutes and I rest 1 minute in between. I usually go about 3.5 miles. I am not aware what the C25K program is, but I will look it up. Thanks for the blog of motivation! Laura - 4/6/2013   9:21:18 AM
  • 385
    I just signed up for my 1st 5k this May!!! I'm starting C25k this week. Thanks for the motivation. Look out Color me Rad, here I come! - 2/4/2013   11:49:48 AM
  • 384
    You have really inspired me being a morbidly obese woman who longs to run I will not let my current weight put limitations on me. I look forward to my progress. - 2/1/2013   9:27:44 AM
    I love this article. I started c25k last year, but didn't stick with it. I just did w1d1 last week, but didn't go again. This makes me want to go again - and JUST DO IT. I've lost 50 lbs since January 1, 2012. I just started doing yoga, which is making strength training much more fun for me. However, my cardio has fallen off, and that's where I struggle most. I'm inspired! Thanks! - 1/22/2013   2:08:41 PM
  • 382
    I love this article! I wish I had her confidence when I was 300 plus pounds and wanted to run. - 12/25/2012   11:14:32 PM
  • 381
    Thank you! I used to run, a few lifetimes ago.... and I really miss it.

    I think I'll check in with my Dr to see if I'm ready.... cos I'm beginning to feel like a bird, turning into the wind, getting ready to take flight.

    Thanks for the encouragement. . . . - 11/18/2012   8:08:32 PM
  • 380
    I have been saying when I lose a bit more weight I will start the C25K...I have already downloaded the app to my phone, now, this is the inspiration I needed. So glad you blogged about it. :) - 11/3/2012   9:53:18 PM
    Fantastic article! I've been beating myself up a bit over the C25K program, about not meeting my expectations to be able to run "easier". It's been a struggle, but I feel a lot better after the perspective put into your article. Thanks! - 10/23/2012   9:45:11 AM
  • 378
    Thanks for the inspiration! - 9/6/2012   1:46:32 PM
  • 377
    One of the things that keeps me running is thinking about how much more effortless and fun it will be when I finally reach my goal weight! - 8/2/2012   5:32:48 AM
  • 376
    Okay I am offically impressed and inspiried I myself am a "fatty" when I walk I giggle and unfortunately blessed with the betty boop figure, which tends to bring out a variety of comments :o( I am going to try the running package I found on sparks starting today :o) wish me look - 6/7/2012   3:58:40 AM
  • 375
    OK, I've been officially inspired. I think I'll try to add 1 minute of running/jogging to my walks. Thanks for sharing - 6/6/2012   8:26:26 PM
  • 374
    Thanks so much for this blog! I've been pondering the idea of starting a running program, but job is pretty much a sedentary job and I'm having a hard time motivating myself. I feel that I can't start a running program because I'm too big and I'm not conditioned to be a runner. But after reading your blog, I'm gonna have to seriously try the C25K program. Thanks for the motivation!! - 6/6/2012   9:58:48 AM
  • 373
    Thank you!! You've inspired me to start C25K... again! :) - 4/24/2012   9:08:38 PM
    I've had this dream to run a 5K for a long time. This article just made me consider it more than just a dream. I AM going to do it. I like the part about "not running for speed". I allowed people's comments to stop my progress too many times in the past. Thanks so much to the writer of this article. I am inspired! - 4/24/2012   8:52:39 PM
    And you can still lose weight if you never run a step, too :) I did... - 4/17/2012   9:22:27 PM
  • 370
    Kristina (KARVY09) you have inspired me! I have had this desire to run for awhile, but "something" kept getting in the way...I think it was me! I'm not going to wait until I lose weight to start running...I AM going to get clearance from my doctor, first...and then get a REALLY good sports bra! - 4/17/2012   8:30:35 AM
  • 369
    Thanks for sharing...I have been wanting to try running for a while--but had the same
    train of thought---I joined the C25K team when I started sparks...but never really started it. NOW I WILL!!!!! - 4/11/2012   11:16:25 AM
  • 368
    This is inspiring, Thanks for sharing! I have tried the C25K before and could not get anywhere I felt alone and no one I knew understood what I was doing or even why I was doing it I now know I'm not alone and I am not going to let anything stand in my way!!!! Thanks so much for Sharing!!! - 3/6/2012   2:38:11 PM
    This is so inspiring, thanks! I've always assumed that I needed to be thin to start running, and have also been afraid of what others might think when they see me running. Off to try the first week of the C25K program tomorrow! - 2/24/2012   2:43:28 AM
  • 366
    Awesome! I am doing C25K. This story motivated me. - 2/8/2012   1:16:21 PM
  • 365
    LOVE THIS! Thanks for sharing, KARVY09! Although I always "do" a lot, I used to be a couch potato when it came to working out and if you would have asked me if I would consider running a 5k a year ago, I would have rolled my eyes and said, "NO WAY!" I started utilizing the 5k My Way programs on sparkpeople and have now completed the three 5 week programs! I have participated in two virtual and one live 5k races and now incorporate running into my weekly exercise routine! It CAN be done. Don't think of it as exercise, think of it as MOVING MORE or being MORE ACTIVE. One day at a steps if you have to. :) - 2/1/2012   2:47:01 PM
  • 364
    Great Blog, thanks so much. I'm inspired, I have joined the group and will start week 1 on Monday. Looking forward to it. - 1/14/2012   11:41:29 AM
    Great Blog! Thanks! - 8/14/2011   2:05:55 PM
  • 362
    OMG! I have always thought I was too big to run...that my breasts were too big for me to run....well now that I have had a double mastectomy and gastric bypass surgery....I HAVE NO EXCUSES!!! I have friends that are encouraging me to enter a triathalon....I now think that I need to do this! Thanks for the push off the fence!!! - 5/14/2011   1:23:17 PM
  • KMILLER721
    DH bought a treadmill to train for a 60 mile walk. Today is mother's day and the treadmill arrives Tuesday. I am 38 and 280lbs and I WILL do C25K because of this article even if I don't complete it in 9 weeks. Wondeing if I just might be able to do a 5K in the fall. Thank you for posting this to let us chunky chicks re-think the possiblities. - 5/8/2011   1:40:15 AM
    I love the couch to 5k programme, and am really glad to see you mention that lots of people repeat weeks; week 4 is KILLING me, so I'm repeating week 3 this week. Thanks for the post and the inspiration. :) - 4/11/2011   6:05:16 AM
  • 359
    I've considered running again since joining SP, but I, too, thought I was too heavy to run. Thank you very much for your inspirational story. - 4/1/2011   3:22:41 PM
  • 358
    I've always wanted to run but had the sterotype in my mind, of what a runner should look like. Thanks for showing us that it just ain't true and that ANYONE can do it!! - 4/1/2011   7:52:22 AM
  • 357
    Like others have said - this is the fantastic, practical blog that inspired me to my first 5k last year.
    I am currently training for my first 10 k.

    Thanks Karvy - you continue to motivate & inspire! - 3/30/2011   9:01:17 AM
  • 356
    This blog could not have come at a better time for me. It's like a sign from God, I'm not even exaggerating. I have a goal set for March 18, 2012 but after cruel, unnecessary remarks I've been reading about a heavy runner at this year's L.A. Marathon I struggled with so many doubtful thoughts yesterday. To the point that my twitter now reads "Am I kidding myself thinking I can do this?"

    Your blog completely reaffirmed my decision to set my goal. I will work at it, I will work HARD at it. It's no easy task. I've been training for a few weeks now and I still cant run even a 1/8 of a mile without stopping and walking for a big chunk of distance while I catch my breath and try again. But I will get there somehow.

    I am immensely grateful to you for writing this blog. I bet you didn't think it would have this big of an impact on a person when you wrote it, did you? Well it has. Tremendous impact. Thank you! God Bless you and your running! =) - 3/22/2011   11:19:32 AM
  • 355
    You are so inspirational! I really enjoyed your blog and wish I could picture myself doing this exact same thing. Unfortunately, I know I can not run yet as I carry too much weight for my frame and my legs just would not let me do it but this gives me something to aspire to.

    Thanks for posting and all best wishes to you. You make us proud!

    Susan - 3/21/2011   9:15:46 AM

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