Tag Archives: safely

See Fatty Run, Can Fat People Run Safely?

halfinish2I am frequently asked both on Facebook and in the Fit Fatties Forum, “I am fat.  Is it still safe for me to run?”  So I thought I’d take up this question in today’s blog post.

The short answer is that most people, given proper form, equipment, time and training can learn to jog or run safely, but not all.  There is little evidence that it is inherently unsafe for people of size to jog or run.  Plenty of fluffy folks finish 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races every day.  There is little to no evidence that running causes pain or loss of cartilage in the knees–no matter what your size.  However, if you already have problems in knees, hips, ankles, back or feet, you should proceed with extreme caution as running can make these problems a lot worse.

BadKnees

If you have “bad knees” you should get cleared by a doctor before you start running.

Frankly, fat folk should approach running in the same way that thin people do.  You should probably start by being checked out by your doctor.  If you are coping with joint pain or back pain of any sort, you should probably also see a joint or sports medicine specialist and get cleared for exercise before you begin.  Once you get the all clear from your doctor(s), then it’s time to gear up.  Start by getting yourself a great pair of shoes.  The best way to find those great shoes is to go to a running store, and get fitted by a professional.  This is not the time to choose shoes because they are your favorite color or because they are on sale.  Good shoes that fit properly and meet the special needs of your particular tootsies are critical for safe walking and running.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Once you’ve got the all-clear and are geared up, you need to start SLOWLY.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If you are not already walking regularly, you should start with a walking program.  There are lots of different schools of thought about how to move from walking to running.  I am personally very partial to Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run approach.  I started by walking 10 minutes and running for 30 seconds.  I ran from telephone pole to telephone pole.  I eventually trained to the point I could do a marathon.  I know lots of people who have safely used this approach.  Going all out each workout as hard and as fast as you can is not noble.  It is not bad-assed.  It is a recipe for disaster.  There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about having to quit your running program after 4 days because you hurt yourself.

Once you’ve been running for a while, it is also important to PROCEED SLOWLY.  Most sports programs recommend that you ramp no more than 10 percent per week.  That means if you are running one mile per session this week, you can run 1.1 miles per session next week.  Note that this progression is much, MUCH slower than many of the published and printed running programs out there.  While many of the programs that train you for your first 5K or marathon are great, I find that many bodies are simply not designed to ramp up that quickly.  That’s why I took my first marathon program, cut it in half, and trained for a half marathon instead.  That’s why, when I do 5K or 10 K training programs now, I tend to spend two or even three weeks at each level before I move on.  If you’re doing a total of 3 miles of training this week, it’s probably not cool to do 6 miles of training next week.  It might work for you.  It might leave you a total wreak.  Learn to learn from and listen to YOUR body.

There are lots of other things you can do to help keep yourself safe.  Make sure you stretch.  Do a proper warm up.  Add cross training to give some of your running muscles a break.  Add strength training to build up the muscles and ligaments around your joints and help to stabilize them.  Make sure to work on your form.  Proper running form–including how and where you place your feet, stride, and even arm placement, are very important.  Running is a repetitive motion.  Very small problems in your form can lead to very big pain down the road.

Be sure to address back and other joint pains early and often.

When it comes to running, pain is a very important teacher.  Some people can run without experiencing any significant pain.  For some people, pain happens a whole lot.  In any case, pain is not to be ignored.  It can tell you when you need to adjust your form.  It can tell you when you need to add more cross training or strength training.  It can tell you that the purple tennis shoes you bought because they were on sale were a bad idea.  It can tell you that you need to stop running for a while so you can address a problem in your back or your joints.  It can tell you that running just isn’t for you right now.  DO NOT IGNORE PAIN.  Listen to it.  Learn from it.

Happy trails to you!

Happy trails to you!

So can fatties run?  Can running be safe and enjoyable for people of size?  Of course!  People of all sizes simply need to approach running with caution, gear up, start slowly, ramp slowly, and listen carefully to their bodies.  Here’s wishing you happy trails!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to learn more about exercise at every size and GET FREE STUFF?  Don’t forget to join my list right here.

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Overcoming Parking Karma and Adding More Steps to your Life

Earlier this week, I wrote a post all about using the pedometer to gradually add to  your fitness level.  It’s easy to use.  It’s safe.  And it’s cheap!  All you need is a pedometer.  And this week, you could even be one of five lucky people to win a free pedometer from The Fat Chick!  In that post I gave you a lot of advice about how to calculate your average daily step count, and how to figure out how much to ramp your step count from week to week.  Today, I’d like to give you five steps to quickly and easily work more steps into your life.  Here you go:

1.  Park further away.  Actually, this simple tool can actually allow you to exercise while SAVING TIME.  My husband has terrible, terrible parking karma.  It doesn’t matter where we are going–be it the the mall, the movie theater, the grocery store, but this guy is terrible at finding good parking.  I used to comment on this fact all the time.  And when I would, not so politely ask, “Could you have parked any further away?” my husband would look at me calmly and say, “Yes.”  He would then proceed to park in the spot furthest possible from our end destination.  Over time, he has stopped even trying to find the closest spot.  And you know what?  I’m pretty sure we get where we want to go even faster.  Rather than circling the lot like a brain-dead vulture for endless minutes, we just park and walk a little further.  We get more exercise, we skip the frustration of arguing with people who “steal our spots” and ultimately we get there quicker.  Win. Win. Win.

2.  Stop doing everything online.  When I work freelance in an office, I add a lot of steps to my day and get stuff done faster by simply getting up from my desk and walking over to the person I want to talk to.  They aren’t ignoring me to check out their stats on Facebook or Instagram because I can see them and talk to their faces.  I found that I got people’s attention by talking to them directly and people were a lot less likely to procrastinate on stuff that I asked them to do if they realized I was likely to actually knock on their door and, you know, ask them to do the stuff. While online shopping is extremely convenient, all that gets exercise is  your fingers.  So I get up early and head over to the mall every once and a while to get some holiday shopping and some extra exercise into my  life.

3.  Get off the bus a little sooner.  For those of you who take public transportation, this is easy.  You just get off one stop before your final destination and walk the rest of the way.  But there are opportunities for all of us to use this technique.  How about the shuttle bus at the airport, can you get off one terminal sooner and walk a little further?  Or the bus or tram that takes you to the parking lot, can you get off the shuttle a bit further from your car?

4.  Find opportunities for “Spontaneous Boogie-down Sessions”.  Sure you can get up from your computer and simply stretch or walk towards the coffee machine, but what fun is that?  Why not set a boogie alarm?  Set an alarm on your cell phone or computer to go off every so often and take a “Boogie Break”.  Pick and awesome song, grab your air guitar and just go to it.  Extra points for getting everybody in the office involved in spontaneous flash mob awesomeness.  Extra EXTRA points if you get it on camera and send me a link!

5.  Go walk around somewhere awesome!  Even in the depth of winter there are fabulous places to go walking.  Go walking outside and look at holiday decorations.  Go walking at an amazing museum or park or zoo.  Check out a botanical garden or pumpkin farm.  There are so many fun things you can do while walking around.  Go do some of them!

Also, please let me offer this note for people who don’t walk so well.  All of these suggestions can be tailored for people who are less mobile.  It’s all a matter of scale.  Maybe you can’t walk from the furthest reaches of the parking lot.  That’s okay!  Maybe pick a spot that is one slot further away from the front door.  Maybe park your scooter just a few feet  further away from your destination.  You can totally do a chair boogie if a standing boogie isn’t really in the cards for you.  The point here is to do something a teensy, teeny, weenie bit more than you did yesterday.  But only if you want to.  There’s no rules here–only options and opportunities.  You are in charge of you.  So only do what feels right for you in your body.

Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Do you have a special technique that you use to get extra steps into your day?  How about sharing them in the comments section?  And don’t forget to follow the directions below to become eligible to win a free pedometer.

WIN A PEDOMETER FROM THE FAT CHICK!

All you have to do is click this link The Fat Chick Pedometer Giveaway  and then follow the directions!  Once you get there, you can like my Facebook page or put a comment on the blog or write a tweet.  It’s easy and fun.  Just remember to click this link first: The Fat Chick Pedometer Giveaway 

Good luck!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick