Think You're Too Big to Run? Think Again

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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THE13THSEEKER 11/25/2020
This is the most inspiring and encouraging article I have read in a long time. It covers most of my fears about running. Report
Love your mindset! Report
Great article! Report
Hmm. I've never been a runner. Report
Would love to run a 5k with my grandchildren (6 and 9). Hanks for giving me hope. Report
You did inspire me with this article!!! Myself - I want to get from obese to just overweight. I've just started the Spark 5K running program. My first week has been wonderful - I did not think I would be able to do it. My knees complained, but the rest of me was very pumped! I am going to keep at it.
Thank you!!! Report
Thanks Report
Thank You............. Report
thanks Report
Thanks Report
Awesome...thanks.... Report
We all have to start from somewhere, SparkFriends. We can and will do it. Report
Thanks. Report
I tried the couch 25k and found I couldn't run for a minute. Quit now I wish I had kept trying. Report
I tried the couch 25k and found I couldn't run for a minute. Quit now I wish I had kept trying. Report
Inspiring... I have dreamt of running a 5K, have never run before .... I did download the c25k app years ago, but never really committed. So I signed up for a 5k to push me to just do it.... I forgot all about it and just received the notification that Im running next tomorrow, God help me! Report
Absolutely great Report
Great article! Report
I agree with what she said. I am a large man. I have run regularly for around 5 years. I am still slow and I have lost some weight but I am still large. I can tell you the reactions if any I get at races are completely positive. For me it just makes me feel good so I keep doing it. I will never win any races but I enjoy it. Report
Great article Report
Inspiring. Ran my first 5k a few years (and 50 pounds lost, now regained) per SparkPeople. Probably would not have without the inspiration of SP. Working on re-losing my poundage; now I am thinking that in the spring, I might start training again for c25k (getting lots of cardio in winter: spent 70 min shoveling snow today, plus doing gym work.) Report
Great article which gives me understanding about my sore knee. Report
Thank you for the motivation! Report
I love your article! I used to be an avid 5K racer when I weighed much, much less than I do now, and at races I was often left in the dust by women much heavier than I. There are people at my gym who are heavy but run fast and long on the treadmills. I always feel like shouting thumbs up at heavy runners I drive past outdoors. I know I would be a better runner if I lose 10 more pounds, but until that is accomplished I still enjoy running. My knees don't though lol. Report
Thank you for this! I just started my couch 25k this morning with my son and was happy and nervous all at the same time. I have always worried about what people would say if they saw me running and I have come to the conclusion that you are right! Some will be supportive... some will be's time to do this for me! At 240 pds 5'3" and 41 yrs old I am tired of hurting and wanting to be healthy, and I want to run a 5k with my boys next year so I am starting now! Thank you for your post! Report
Great job, but an important part: "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 ...I have no other health concerns such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, et cetera."

If you can run, great. But walking, chair exercise or whatever you need to do for YOU works too. Report
This is very motivating! Thanks for sharing! Report
Tried the C25K program twice.....6 months apart. Tore the meniscus in the same knee twice......I'm over "running" but envy those that can. Go for it if your able and do a mile for me will you? Report
This really inspired me. Thanks for sharing! Report
This is giving me hope as I too an obese. Report
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. Report
Oh WOW! I am so encouraged! Thanks for the motivation. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Awesome! This is so my story too!! And I now run a 5k once a month !--while being obese! Report
Thank you for your honesty and motivation. Report
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. :-( Report
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. Report
your FREAKING amazing! i made an account just to tell you this... thank your for being my motivation Report
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. =) Report
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! Report
Amazing article. Truly inspiring. I love the way she's keeping things reallistic. Excellent. I'm going to try the C25K program. Thanks! Report
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 Report
Thanks so much for this share. It has totally turned around my view of my exercise program potential Report
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. Report
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 :) Report
Thanks! So inspirational! Report
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 Report
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! Report
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. Report