April 14, 2013
So for argument’s sake lets just say you’re overweight, well 60.8% of the UK population are so you are in good company…or heaven forbid you are obese or dare I say it morbidly obese (all of which I have been over the last 20 years)… and you are considering taking up running you say?
Who in their right mind would suggest running to you when even getting off the sofa is a challenge now? Crazy right?
Well Maybe not.
To help you make an informed decision whether “to run or not to run?” I have collated ten legitimate problems that BMI challenged individuals face in the running world. Use these to support your “I’d love to take up running but…” statement if you like, but I’m afraid I’ve included the counter argument for each too.
1. People will laugh at me
So what? People laugh at fat people anyway… all of the time. So how is this different? Although this has happened to me a few times it is actually quite rare, I find people are pretty supportive, at races especially so. Besides, it shows you are trying to do something about your weight. It’s normally kids, or blokes that could do with losing a few pounds themselves that make the comments. Some good tricks to avoid the sniggers or funny looks is to listen to music or run at night and try not to make eye contact. Sticks and stones and all that, but i know it can be really disheartening.
2. I don’t have the right clothes to wear.
Do you wear special clothes to walk to the shops? Or to pick the kids up from school? No, you wear whatever you have available. Yes you could buy something more suitable for running, but to get started anything will do. Leggings/trackie bottoms and a t-shirt are fine. Save the Lycra for when you’ve lost a few pounds and when you know you’re gonna run frequently. A decent pair of trainers is a good idea, but you can pick these up cheap in sports direct or online (£30 should get you a good enough pair to start with, £80 will get you top of the range)
3. My boobs will knock me (or someone else) out
Invest in a sports bra or wear two supportive bras one on top of each other or use bandages or a scarf to literally tie them down. I kid you not. You boobs will shrink in size as you lose the weight. Initially I found a normal bra and a tight-fitting crop top style sports bra worked for me, but now I run 3-4 times a week a proper fitting sports bra gives me better supports.
4. I have bad knees
Obviously I wouldn’t encourage you to go against doctors advice. But I actually tore the ligaments in my right knee (after falling over drunk at Notting Hill carnival) a year later I ran my first 10k. Running actually strengthens your knees as long as you build up slow and have the right supportive trainers. Think about your running surface too, there are alternatives to pounding concrete!! You could wear supports on them just to be on the safe side.
5. I get breathless
I get breathless when having sex sometimes, it doesn’t stop me doing it. Again check with your doctor, but build up slowly, and stop to catch your breath if you need to. If you seriously have breathing issues then now is the time to get fit. I found when I first started out that I really needed to focus on my breathing technique, and some of it was mind over matter…I still find it hard running, breathing and talking at the time, which is why I prefer to train alone most of the time!!
6. I might fall over
Yes, this is possible. I have fallen over, and nearly fallen over many times. All that’s been hurt is my pride though. Your balance and your confidence does improve the more you run. Keep an eye on where you are going, don’t run too fast, look out for traffic and pedestrians and dogs, oh and ambulances!!
7. I am too slow
You will be faster than everyone else that’s still sitting on the couch. I can sometimes walk faster than I’m running and that’s ok, the only person you are competing against is yourself. You can work on your speed once you are running for 30 minutes or 5 kilometres at a time. In terms of races, or running groups a big fear is that you will finish last. Sometimes you do, I finished a race once and the organisers had already packed up I was so slow. You won’t always be the slowest. And so what if you are.
8. There’s nowhere to run near me
That can’t be true and if it is, get on a bus and find somewhere you can run. A park is always a safe bet, and during the day many are very quiet. Check out parkrun, checkout your local running or walking club, and see if there is a running track nearby. Integrate running into your day, run to work or to pick up the kids. I sometimes get a train somewhere and run back.
9. I’m scared to run alone
So take a friend along, or a dog or a friends dog. Join a running club, run in a gym on a treadmill (not quite the same feeling as running outside though). Choose safe routes, always let people know where you are running and when to expect you home. Take money for a cab home and a mobile phone for emergencies.
10. That means giving up booze, fags and Macdonald’s
Really? I would have long given up if that was the case. Booze – running club members often go for drinks after training sessions, I actually ran my first 10k without stopping under the influence of the previous nights booze (probably not healthy, but I lived to tell the tale), Fags, I’m not a smoker and it probably doesn’t help with no.5, but I’m sure there are plenty of runners that smoke. At least for as long as you are running your not puffin away, it might even encourage you to give up. And lastly Macdonalds, during the summer of 2012 I was working in the athletes village, the longest queues in the athletes dining hall were for…you guessed it the big yellow m. So if Olympic athletes can eat fast food then so can you, but if I’m being honest I know how tough 5k of running is, and how many calories that burns…a quarter pounder and cheese is just not worth it.
So there you have it, yes being overweight does have its challenges but there really isn’t an excuse not to give it a go.
I ran the London Marathon weighing over 15 stone, that’s like 3 Paula Radcliffes…no wonder it took me almost 6 hours to complete…and yes I did have a pint of beer to celebrate, in fact I think it was two!!!