T wice in the last week I have received comments from people claiming that they are too fat to run. Once via email from a very nice sounding lady named Donna and another in a comment on my welcome post from Khaleef, who is blogging about his weight loss over at his Fat Guy Skinny Wallet website.

I don’t like hearing the phrase “I’m Too Fat To Run” and I just don’t buy it either. As far as I am concerned running is not about distance, speed or even necessarily running, starting off walking is just fine.

Being fat is not an excuse

I'm Too Fat To RunOf course there could be problems associated with weight and believe me I have some experience of it myself. I’m going to list the steps that I would take if I felt I was too big to go running but some crazy blog post had tempted me to give it a try anyway.

1. Get a checkup.
This first step is a disclaimer disguised as a step but something that is genuinely advisable. If you have not done any physical activity for a long while or feel you have any issues such as weight, bad joints, respiratory problems or anything of the sort you need to get checked up. Visit the doctors and get a check up, tell them of your intent to start physical activity and ask for any advice they have. It’s important that you get treatment for any ailments that could thwart your efforts or worse cause long term problems.

2. Get yourself some gear.
It would be easy for me to advise you to buy $150 shoes, some expensive sweat sucking running shirts and other hi-tech gadgets but I don’t want to waste your cash. I do advise you wear comfortable and fitting underwear. A pair of snug calvins for guys and comfortable everyday underwear, especially a jog bra or your most supportive regular bra, for women. You need some comfortable sports or walking shoes with comfortable socks and a pair of sports shorts and a light cotton T-Shirt.

3. Plan a route.
Running on a sidewalk probably isn’t a good ideas if you are on the heavy side as it can put a lot of pressure on your back and knees so you want to plan a route that allows you to start on cut grass or well maintained trails. Distance wise I would map out 1 miles and no hills.

Tips for mapping a route: The non-digital way works out well with a map and a piece of string cut to the same distance as a mile (worked out from the scale) and then wound around the trail until you come up with something good! Or you can use the something like Google Earth and their measure tool (take a screen shot of the map as you can’t save routes on it as yet). I would use RunKeeper.com which allows you to map out a route as part of the activity page.

4. Get dressed.
When the big day comes, get your kit on, have a move around and if you feel any areas that may rub then put some baby powder or even petroleum jelly on those areas. Not a nice thought I know but you may thank me later!

5. Warm up.
You need to warm up, Make sure you spend at least a few minutes walking and a little stretching for all your major muscles. Time to Run has a great article for a gentle runners warm up.


Start out on the route walking or very lightly running. The first time out you don’t need to complete the course or go at any speed. I wouldn’t even take a watch or any timing device out with me at this stage. Even if you only make it 100 metres that is a great start. See it as the beginning of the rest of your running career!

7. Cool down.
When you are done you need to cool down to help the muscles to cool down and aid recovery. You need to walk very slowly for a few minutes again and then stretch all your main muscles again like you did for the warm up.

8. Document your awesome achievement.
Write down your achievement, where you stopped or how the course went, how you felt. I would suggest logging it on somewhere like RunKeeper or just writing it on a sheet of paper and sticking it to the fridge.

The first day will be hard, you may even hate it but you won’t the achievement and the fact that you now have a goal, a marker that will push you run by run to do something you may have not done for a long time or even ever before. If you didn’t make the mile then the challenge is to go out every two days until you can walk that entire mile. If you did make the mile then I suggest you take a watch out next time and start timing with the intention of increasing your speed until you reach a goal. I would say 12 minutes for the one miles is a good time to aim for.

If this post motivates you to go for a run then I need to hear about it and how your experience was. If you have any tips for me to improve this plan or you just fancy letting us know what you are thinking then please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading and good luck.

Image modified from the original by Kriss Szkurlatowski.

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When I can be I am a regular runner but I am also nothing special and certainly no elite, so in that respect I am regular too. However I do love talking about running and related things and I do have a lot of experience, over 15 years now.

6 Responses to “I’m Too Fat To Run” Subscribe

  1. Khaleef @ Fat Guy Skinny Wallet September 29, 2011 at 12:51 #

    Avoiding sidewalks is a great tip! My biggest concern with running at this weight is destroying my knees, ankles, and my lower back. I wouldn’t mind running, but I definitely want to drop around 50lbs so the shock won’t be as harsh.

    By the way, I love that widget that you have in the sidebar. Do you know if there are others that can track various workouts and goals?

    • Forest September 29, 2011 at 15:56 #

      Hey Khaleef, i’ll hold you to that as I will be following your progress. When you drop 50lbs (and I know you will) i’ll be back at ya and telling you to get out and pound the pavement (or rather trails or grass!).

      RunKeeper isn’t just for running. If you have an iPhone or Android with GPS you can use that to record any walking, cycling, running and it even has options to record details from other types of workout too such as swimming or weights routines.

      If you join let me know and i’ll add you to my street team.

  2. nick March 28, 2012 at 22:28 #

    Thanks for the post. I weigh about 230 lbs and I just started running for the first time in my life. I bought some running shoes and went out into the world but the only terrain by my place is a sidewalk that goes straight up a hill. I nearly died running a half mile.

    I turned right around and walked back. My problem wasn’t so much respiratory, my back, knees or other joints, but my shin muscles and the arches of my feet H U R T

    Do you have any advice for me to prevent this?

    • Forest June 6, 2012 at 20:49 #

      Hey Nick, just take it slow, all those parts of your body have been resting for a long time and need time to strengthen too. Make sure you stretch every single day and start by walking 1/2 mile, 1 mile etc etc and slowly bringing the jogging in. Good luck and sorry for the delay in replying.

  3. Mark Johnson July 4, 2012 at 16:31 #

    I used to run daily, and completed a few triathlons, 10Ks, and a half-marathon. Then alcoholism became a much more important part of my life, and over the years I ballooned from ~150 pounds to my max weight of ~320 pounds.

    I haven’t had a drink for over 13 years now, but food replaced the alcohol and my weight didn’t really go down. Anyway I’ve become tired of the status quo and want to get back into running. I have read a lot of articles that make the claim that you cannot be too fat to run, and honestly I just don’t buy it. I think for a lot of morbidly obese people (like myself) it is much more sensible to do other exercise that does not put as much of a pounding on the joints as running does until some weight loss is achieved, then slowly work back into running.

    I’ve been walking for weight loss for a couple of months now, and am now well below the 300 pound mark and averaging 15,000 steps per day according to the Omron. My plan is to use walking, hiking, and other activities combined with diet for weight loss until I am under 225. When I hit 225 I plan to start slowly back into running, and use it as a supplement to walking until I’m well under 200 and feel comfortable running several miles per day.

    I only have one pair of knees and hips; I cannot see the sense in ruining the possibility of many years of running happiness for the sake of getting my ‘running fix’ while at an extreme weight.

    Thank you,

    • Forest July 24, 2012 at 05:47 #

      Mark, I should have been more clear and I totally agree that in extreme situations where morbid obesity is concerned people are certainly too fat to run. It is a serious condition and a good doctor will likely be able to give a good plan such as very slow swimming, light walking and a HUGE emphasis on diet and psychiatric help.

      Please, please continue being unhappy with that status quo and fighting your illness. You sound like you are taking the right steps and soon you will be able to take those first steps of an actual “run”.

      Let me know how things are going.

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