A Fat Runner's Guide to Being a Fat Runner

Practical advice and helpful tips for runners of all shapes and sizes.

When I first started telling my friends and family that I've taken to the name "The Fat Runner," they seemed shocked and a bit mortified that I would call myself such a thing.  One of my friends seemed genuinely upset saying she felt like I was putting myself down.  Not true at all!  

I call myself a fat runner well, because I am but not just that.  I say it with pride. How many fat runners do you know?  There aren't a lot of us and that is a shame!  We've bought into the idea that somehow we can't enjoy running too and it is my hope that when you read about this fat runner, it changes your idea of who can be a runner.

If you've ever dreamed about becoming a runner or are already on your way or maybe its never even crossed your mind because, like me a few months ago, you couldn't fathom that A. You could be a fat runner and B. anyone could enjoy running then this is a good place for you to start reading.

I became a runner because no one told me I couldn't. It wasn't until I was already running that I discovered in the weight loss world that someone has unbeknown to me, set a magic weight that you must be at before you can start running.  That person was wrong.  Below are some things I wish someone told me when I first started or have learned after my own experiences.

1. Anyone can run! Anyone can run regardless of size, I was 350 lbs when I started running but number two is important so read on

2. No one becomes a runner overnight - My first run was 30 seconds long, my second run was 5 min. of me running 30 seconds and walking 1 min then running 30 seconds then walking.  I kept building on that day after day for months. Last week I ran 18 miles and next week I'll be running 20 but it didn't happen over night.  Its been a long process so be patient with yourself and remember that no one, not even the Kenyans woke up and become a runner overnight.

3.  Chub rub and painful feet do not have to be a consequence of being a fat runner -  When i first started out, i was running in Hawaii in cotton baggie shorts and loose fitting Tshirts.  I didn't know any better, I had just assumed that the chaffing and the chub rub was just a natural part of becoming a runner and it wasn't until I moved back to the mainland and had to run in the snow that I discovered a whole new world of fat running.

Clothing- A fat runner's clothing can make or break a runner.  We tend to dress ourselves in baggy Cotton clothing when we first start out.  Thats fine if your walking with the Senior Center's walk club but NOT ok for a fat runner!

Because we jiggle and shake, it can very quickly become uncomfortable to run. The answer to that is compression gear!  Compression gear is made out of light weight fabric that will wick the sweat away, give you support when you run and help prevent swelling in your arms and legs.  For me, compression gear is what keeps my 20lb extra skin flap on my belly from flying all around.  Compression gear is tight, like a second skin and made of extra light weight fabric so there's no extra weight dragging us down- after all as a fat runner, we have enough weight to run with!  Compression gear will also help prevent chub rub and any other kinds of chaffing.

I call my compression gear my superhero clothes because my body feels so slick when I wear it.  I swear by Underarmor.  Not only do they have plus sizes but they use a seamless stitching which is very fat runner friendly (again, two seams rubbing between your legs for a few miles is NOT a fun experience)!

Ladies - The number one reason I hear from fat women as why they are not fat runners is because of the boob bouncing.  I know how painful that can be, when i started out, I was wearing cheap uniboob sports bras that did nothing at all for me... I've since learned! You need to find a system that works best for you.  Some women prefer a bra that will house each boob separately and others like the compression bras that hold everything down, locked and loaded.  For me, I am a compression kinda gal but no matter what you choose, follow some simple rules.  Custom running bras are expensive and for those of you looking to lose weight, your new $200 bra may not fit in a month or two which is great that you've lost some weight but not great that your wallet's lost some weight too!  Shop around for a bra that is both comfortable and supportive and if your not finding anything that tames the ta-ta's, try doubling up!  It will give you extra support!

When shopping for a bra, don't think about color or curtness.  No one will be looking at what kind of bra your running with but everyone will be staring at you if your boobs are falling out of a bra made for cleavage!  look for full coverage on the top, bottom and sides.  Try the bra on in the dressing room, jump up and down, jog in place, pump your arms on your sides like your running   to see if its rubbing or pinching anywhere and lastly give it the bend test.  Bend over and touch your toes, if your boobs don't fall out then that's the bra for you! Again, compression shirts also help keep the bouncing down in addition to the bra.

BODYGLIDE- This stuff is Magic! Its an anti chaffing anti hot spot lubricant that goes on like deodorant but you can put it anywhere on your body to prevent pressure points, chaffing, chub rub, and any other kind of discomfort. As fat runners, we have alot more body parts that come in contact with each other when we run.

For months when I started, I would chafe so bad that I'd have problems just walking and there'd be blisters on my feet from where my socks rubbed and my side boob area would always get so sore from constantly being irritated. I accepted it all as the consequences of being a fat runner.  It was not until I started marathon training that I had debilitating blisters on my feet that made me not want to run but then someone said HEY you gotta use Bodyglide!  I put a little on my foot and the next run I had no blisters at all.  Then the run after that, I started putting on my sides, my thighs, my feet and anywhere else that ever gets rubbed.  I haven't had a blister or chaffing in months and its all because of the Bodyglide!

Socks and Shoes - Get socks that are meant for runners!  No cotton socks, they will kill your feet.  Look at sporting good stores for moisture wicking socks that are meant for runners, that fit snug on the feet and don't have a seam across your toes.  Yes they will be more expensive but if you only use them for running, they will last you awhile and are worth every penny.  Shoes are a BIG deal for us fat runners.  Our extra weight means we have special considerations that we need for running.  DO NOT BUY FOR LOOKS!

When you find your running shoe, buy it regardless of what color it is or how it looks. It won't matter how cute your shoes are if you can't run in them because they hurt you. You want a shoe that is built for shock absorption.  Most fat runners have flat feet and our ankles are susceptible to rolling so most of us need a shoe designed with extra stability.  Fat runners have wide feet, we need shoes that have a wide toe box.

Shoes like Nike are NOT built for us fat runners. New balance and Asics are some of the best running shoes for fat runners. Go to a running shoe store ( even if you don't purchase from there) and have them analyse your running. They will be able to tell you what kind of shoe is best for you, let them pick out your options, test them out and when you find the shoe for you, shop around for the best deal! Do not let them talk you into a nice pair of walking shoes.  You are a runner, you need a running shoe!  Make the investment, if your wearing running shoes and paid less then $90 ( unless you got it on a special), then your shoes are not the right shoe for you.  Running shoes are expensive but having the right shoe can prevent all the most common running injuries like stress fractures, overuse injuries and all kinds of join pain.

Plan to buy shoes often!  The average runner needs to buy new shoes after every 300 running miles, fat runners should be buying new shoes every 250 or when they lose their support.  We're bigger and put more stress in our shoes so they lose support faster but you can help extend the life of your shoes by only wearing your running shoes to run in!  

Ok so you don't have to be a fat runner ( or future fat runner) for this advice to apply.  Everyone deserves comfortable clothing, happy feet and unrubbed thighs but the most important piece of advice you need to know is YES YOU CAN.  Say it, believe it.  There is no size or shape of a runner, like all the great things in life, we come in all different shapes and sizes. If you want to be a runner you can do it.  It will take time, energy and initiative... yes you will have to actually take the first step all on your own, but you can do it. Every one's journey, including the fastest person in the world, started out with that very first step. Don't be afraid to take it, live it, be it, own it!

Proudly Running,

The Fat Runner

Pete Kirby February 22, 2013 at 02:51 PM
THAT is a great story, and it offers some great advice. It also offers soem great encouragement to people who want to do something about their health and long-term welfare. Well done, Alexis!
Laura Jaumillot February 22, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Excellent article and information. Reader friendly. This is the helpful kind of information I like to see on the Patch.
Jennifer Graham February 24, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Hooray, happy to have you out here, and congratulations on your weight loss! You may enjoy these books: Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner AND Slow, Fat Triathlete, both on Amazon.
Jerri Lyn February 26, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Love Love Love this article!


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