Running is a great way to lose weight, get fit, feel better and even improve your social life but what we all want to know is how to start running when overweight.
Whether you are a little on the heavy side starting a new running habit doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need is a pair of comfortable running shoes and a little willpower and you’re good to go!
If you are out of shape and haven’t left the sofa for decades, it might be a good idea to spend at least two weeks walking or doing some other form of exercise. An exercise bike or elliptical trainer would be a great way to get started. You should make a schedule to get your blood pumping for around 30 minutes per day, four or five days per week.
FINISH: Na Fianna 5KM Road Race 2015 Flickr photo by Peter Mooney shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Preparing to run
You can find some great training plans online but you could follow this schedule to get things started;
- Aim to run three days per week.
- Run/gentle jog for 20 to 30 minutes for the first few weeks.
- Take a longer run of 40 minutes to an hour at the weekend.
- Rest on your off days unless you feel strong enough to do a different form of exercise such as swimming.
- During the first few months, allow yourself to take “walking breaks” if you feel tired.
Running basics for overweight beginners
Your genetic strength and flexibility determine your running mechanics but there are a few basic rules you should follow when you want to know how to start running when overweight.
- Try to maintain a short and quick stride. Don’t try to lengthen your stride as this can cause injuries.
- Your foot should strike the ground directly under your knee and not in front of it.
- It doesn’t matter whether your heel or forefoot hit the ground first.
- Utilize the “push up and off” method. You should try to focus on pushing up and off the ground behind you.
- Be aware of what your elbows are doing. They should be bent at 90 degrees or less.
- Don’t clench your hands. Keep them loose and below your chest.
Maintaining a regular schedule
Research has shown that you need to run at least a couple of times a week to get any progressive benefit from it. Professional runners run up to 14 times per week.
How often should I run?
There’s no straightforward answer. Of course, you will take into account your goals, life schedule, and current fitness levels to establish the best schedule.
For the majority of people, three times per week is a good number to aim for. Running has a moderately high injury rate, and the rate of injury increases with running volume. While many runners can run daily, most are best to stick to three or four days so that the body can fully recover.
Increase your runs gradually
Many new joggers quit running within a mile. They feel like their legs feel like they are on fire and they’re on the brink of a heart attack! New runners shouldn’t expect to be able to run 10km right off the bat! Build endurance by running more often. You can’t expect to run like a cheetah if you only pound the street once a week!
You can try spreading out your workouts over the week and running shorter distances more frequently. The golden rule of running (and any other exercise) is to increase slowly. Once your breathing starts to feel more relaxed and your muscles become less fatigued, you can start increasing the distance.
Try to stick to the “10 percent rule”. This means that your weekly mileage never increases by more than 10 percent each week. This technique is recommended for preventing injuries and you also won’t feel overwhelmed.
Join a running club and work towards a marathon
When you have to wake up early or if you postpone your run until after work, it can be too easy to talk yourself out of it! That is unless there is a group of like-minded individuals waiting for you. According to a 2012 study in BMC Women’s Health, making plans to train with other people is one of the most effective ways to ensure you follow through with your exercise schedule.
Perhaps the most important reason to join a running club is that it will create a psychological shift that allows you to call yourself a runner, and not just someone who ‘runs’. When you are in a running club, you will have access to experienced athletes that can give you valuable info about where to find the best physio, where to buy good value running accessories, and what the best running routes are.
Your post-running routine
After two hours of completing your run, your body’s metabolic processes slow down, but the recovery process continues. During this time one of the most important factors is to rehydrate properly.
Justin Whittaker, D.C., (who works on some of the world’s top track athletes) says; “Everybody gets bored with hydration but your muscles were meant to be bathed in water. There should be no resistance to their movement. Dehydration is the biggest wrench you can throw into that system because if the muscles aren’t free-floating. They adhere to each other, and then it’s a tug of war, and the movement that should be effortless is suddenly a struggle due to dehydration and byproducts”.
One of the best parts of your new regime is taking a warm bath with Epsom salts. The best time is about an hour or two before bedtime. You can add 4 cups of Epsom salts and 1 cup of baking soda to some piping hot water and then just lay back and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. After your bath, dry yourself down and roll out your muscles with a good massaging tool. An Epsom salt bath will not only remove toxins from the muscles but will also help you sleep.
No run is complete without stretching both before and after your jog. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that stretching can temporarily reduce a muscle’s performance for up to 24 hours. It’s best to warm up muscles using dynamic stretching before a run and to warm down following a run.
You can also increase your flexibility with a 10-minute post-run stretch. “Stretching after a run can help enhance your range of motion. A warmed-up muscle will not only better endure the stretching, but it will have the ability to sustain long-lasting results” says Chris Wolfe, (an RRCA certified running coach & director of STAR Physical Therapy.
The importance of getting sleep
“You might be able to get by with one or two lousy nights of sleep, but your best performance is when you’ve had a good night’s sleep,” said James B. Maas, Ph.D., a psychologist from Cornell University and author of “Sleep to Win”. In a nutshell, the better sleep you get, the better you perform athletically.
For runners, sleep is even more important for performance, as deprivation can affect post-exercise recovery.
During a workout, your muscles break down on a cellular level. Your body needs sleep to repair those cells, enabling you to recover faster and run again sooner.
A lack of sleep also impacts our immune functions and increases the risk of infection. Running (or any other form of exercise) without enough sleep takes your already damaged cells and destroys them further until you get sick or suffer an injury.
Don’t forget to pace yourself!!!
When you don’t overdo your runs, every workout can be a joy. But if you start too fast, a world of misery awaits. You will feel fatigued, have a lack of motivation, and possibly injure yourself.
It is vital to know which pace is right for you. By doing a “magic mile” time trial, you can find the perfect speed and then you can set attainable goals and enjoy running forever!
The gear you’ll need
A pro water bottle
Drinking an adequate amount of fluids is the single most important thing you can do before, during, and after a run. Staying hydrated also helps you to stay cool. This means that drinking water before your jog can improve your running performance.
Water is also better at keeping you hydrated than sugary drinks making it the best choice.
Our pick of the water-carrying options is the very cool 3L Tactical Hydration Pack which comes with a “ready to go” bladder to keep you hydrated throughout your run. The bladder also has a wide screw cap so you can add ice cubes to keep your water chilled.
Decent running shoes
Don’t be distracted by brand names. Instead, try on a few different running shoes, run around the store and choose the pair that is the most comfortable.
If you don’t have time to shop around, the New Balance M990v3 is one of the top running shoes available for heavier men.
A technical T-shirt
Try to stick with “technical” materials that pull sweat and moisture away from the skin. They’re lightweight and the best at preventing irritation and chafing. In the summer, they help you stay cool, and in the winter, you’ll be warmer. The best kinds of materials for running shirts are nylon, wool, Lycra, and Coolmax.
One of the finest T-shirts for runners is the NIKE Pro Fitted Short Sleeve Shirt. Made with Dri-FIT technology it will help you to stay dry and comfortable.
A hi-tech reflective vest
If you run before sunrise or after sunset, you’re gonna need to be seen from a distance. Many joggers carry a flashlight or use a headlamp. Drivers can see the light and the movement and figure out that you’re a runner. Safety should be your primary concern while enjoying your new runner’s lifestyle so at the very least, wear a reflective vest.
The Tracer360 illuminated & reflective vest with multicolored LED fiber optics will ensure you are as visible as a lighthouse!
A music player
There have been a few studies on the relationship between music and exercise dating back to 1911. Leonard Ayres discovered that cyclists pedaled faster while music was playing than when it wasn’t. In 2012, another piece of research showed that cyclists who listened to music needed 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled in silence.
This shows that not only does music make us push ourselves, but it can also help us use our energy more efficiently, too. Music distracts your brain because a much wider region is activated when music is playing. This means that you can run faster and longer without feeling as much fatigue.
Apple’s new underwater audio waterproof iPod shuffle is our pick of the MP3 players.
When it comes to headphone design, your choice really comes down to full-size DJ-style headphones or more compact earbuds. Each style has its pros and cons. Full-size headphones can feel heavy and cumbersome whereas earbuds can be tricky when it comes to getting the right fit.
Bose SoundSport Pulse wireless headphones have a built-in heart-rate monitor and provide a secure and stable fit for the most intense of workouts.
A lot of noobie runners get great running shoes but forget that socks are very important, too. Unless you want painful blisters from bunched-up socks, you should get yourself a breathable pair of socks that aren’t too tight. Many running socks are made from a sweat-wicking fabric that draws moisture away from the feet and prevents bacteria from building up on your feet.
It’s also better to choose a sock without seams. And also one that covers the back of your ankle to prevent rubbing. As with your running shoes, try the socks on in the store and buy just one pair until you have seen how they perform.
Our pick of running socks is the Nike Elite. They are made with a low-friction construction that reduces rubbing.
If you enjoyed this article about how to start running when overweight, you might also like to learn how a man can lose weight fast from our wellness section.