Where To Start If You Want To Run And Are Morbidly Obese?

March 24th 2020

If the idea of running sounds good to you but you don’t know where to start and are morbidly obese, then this is the article for you.

You might not have a clue where to begin if you are morbidly obese and your goal is to start running 

You might believe that it is not possible to run while morbidly obese, or that it is dangerous.

But with the right mindset, approach, and program, you will be able to run despite your limitations.

It will take time, and some modifications, but if you stay consistent, you will be able to achieve your goal of running.



For starters, running while morbidly obese will put quite a bit of stress on your joints. 

That is why for morbidly obese people, rather than trying to follow a program of just running, I recommend you follow either a power-walking program or a walk/run program.

Powerwalking is similar to running in that it activates the aerobic system, allowing you to reap the benefits of burning more calories to lose weight while being less stressful on your joints.

The walk/run program cycles between periods where you walk and periods where you run. This could be more motivational if your goal is to run, and it will be a lot less strenuous on your joints compared to simply running.

Both of these approaches will help you lose weight and once you start to lose weight, running becomes a lot easier and less stressful on your body.

If you want to start getting into running while morbidly obese, your goal is to lose enough weight and get into a healthy enough BMI range so that you are able to run continuously.

In this article, we will break down what mindset you need in order to start running, some common limitations and how to overcome them, and ways that you can ensure that you succeed.

To start off, what sort of mindset do you need to develop in order to begin running?

Starting out – Right Mindset

You might not have been sold yet on the idea of training by powerwalking or walk/running.

You might have thoughts that you simply want to run or that walking is boring or a waste of time.

However, if you are morbidly obese and start a running program, the intensity will most likely be too difficult for you which would cause you to either burn out or suffer an injury and quit.

And from my experience, these are the most common reasons why people quit running shortly after they begin.

Instead, you should focus on a program that has enough intensity to challenge you, but not enough to hurt you.

Sure, it might not be as satisfying as running 1 mile, but you must take the steps necessary in order to reach your goal the right way.

Reaching your goal the right way will promote longevity, save your body, and allow you to eventually progress to 2 miles, 3 miles, and eventually, a full marathon (26.2 miles).

You should consider what your overall goal is for picking up running and take the right steps towards that goal.

There are no shortcuts.

Another option for you is to implement a walk/run strategy.

This could mean walking for 1 minute 30 seconds and then jogging at a light pace for 10 seconds, repeating this until you get to your desired goal in time or mileage.

Over time, once you start losing weight and your aerobic capacity increases, you will be able to spend less time walking and more time jogging, adjusting the amount based on how you are feeling.

Important prerequisites before running

Cutting out processed foods like fast food and soda will help you to lose weight and give you more energy for your runs.

Healthier food shouldn’t be limited to only chicken and broccoli.

There are delicious healthy food recipes out there, you just need to try and give it a chance.

In addition, by eating healthier, your mood and motivation will get a lot better.

Another strategy to help you reach your goal for running is to be more active.

By simply being more active, such as taking the stairs, parking further away, etc. can help you take the small steps needed in order to lose more weight so you can start running.

Program considerations - Goal setting

When you run, you should be following a program that has a goal either as duration or mileage.

This will be a lot more beneficial to you than simply going outside and trying to run.

A goal for duration could be something like run/walking for 15 minutes, while a mileage goal could be something like run/walking for 1 mile.

What type of goal you will set will depend on you and what’s most compatible with your schedule.

A duration goal a variable intensity that is set on how you are feeling every time you run. 

This could be good because if you are having an off day, you can decrease the amount of intensity you are running so that you run the goal time (as opposed to running for a goal distance).

However, a duration goal is not good if you are not accountable because when you are feeling lazy, you might be holding yourself back rather than pushing yourself.

A goal with a duration of time is useful for those who are accountable and are able to adequately judge how they are feeling and for them to push themselves.

A mileage goal can be a lot more motivating because you only run until you reach a certain distance.

This may sound great, but it depends on how much time you are willing to spend during practice.

After all, it could take you 20 minutes to walk/run the mile, or 50 minutes.

In addition, there will be days where running feels difficult and you will feel like stopping short, or you don’t have enough time to walk/run the entire mile, so you skip the workout.

This could be extremely demotivating, and you can easily get off path if you start getting discouraged.

This is why I recommend most beginner runners who are overweight start with a time duration goal.

Keep it simple. Make your goal to walk/run outside for 15 minutes, walking for 90 seconds, and jogging for 10 seconds.

The next time you go outside, walk for 90 seconds and jog for 20 seconds.

You can easily play with the intensity, and duration with a time-based goal.

Self Limitation - Embarrassment

One of the most difficult aspects of running for overweight individuals I find is self-consciousness and the feelings of embarrassment while running.

These feelings of negativity can easily prevent you from running outside or on the treadmill in the gym.

You might think that other people are judging or laughing at you, but the reality is people pay attention to you a lot less than you think.

Not caring what others think is something much easier said than done.

But in order to get past this stage, you must recognize that whatever you do, ultimately nobody cares. 

When we think of ourselves as so important that we can’t mess up, it is known as the spotlight effect.

Once you get rid of this cognitive bias, you will realize that people don’t actually pay much attention to you so you should do the things that you want to do anyway.

Another concept to understand is that you should not let fear dictate your life and actions.

Whenever you feel fear (fear of embarrassment, of failure, whatever), you might be inclined to stop and go the other way.

But this is the wrong option.

Everyone feels fear, but it is those who feel the fear and do the thing they set out to do anyway who succeed.

Path to success - Join a running group or club

Having friends who want to get into running as well or are currently runners a great way to help you to succeed.

Having people who hold you accountable will help keep you motivated and work harder.

Trust me, you will have days where you feel like the last thing you want to do is to run.

Having friends that are also into running can help you overcome these feelings.

You can track your friend’s mileage and progress through apps like Strava or the Nike Run App.

You can also check out your local running club or look for running groups.

Runners are very receptive to people who are trying to better themselves.

Surrounding yourself with positive people who aspire to the same goals as you is a surefire way to succeed.

You are who you surround yourself with.

Suggested running program – C25K

My suggested running program for those who are overweight and want to start getting into running is the couch to 5k program also known as C25K.

This is an 8-week program that has you walk/running for 3 days a week for around 30-40 mins each session.

The goal is to somebody from the couch to running their first 5k (3 miles).

In fact, the program is so popular it has it’s own free app that you can install and follow right away.

This program will help you to achieve your goal of running (hopefully a 5k) with a moderate intensity ensuring that you are not overdoing it and injuring yourself.

Strength training is another strategy

Another topic of consideration that is worth mentioning is strength training.

Should you start a strength training program if your goal is to run?

The answer is, yes.

Strength training will help you burn more calories faster and will help you to bigger and stronger muscles.

This could be helpful for you if your goal is to have an aesthetic physique.

If your goal is strength and you want to be strong and, it can be helpful for you in improving your overall health and condition.

Strength training is very broad and is not simply for bodybuilders.

There is a wide array of benefits to strength training, and you will find that strength training can actually help improve your running.

Many lifters find that after 3-6 months of lifting weights that it is an efficient way to burn calories as well as improve your health.



There is nowhere to go but up!

What program should I run?

After doing your own research about how to perform barbell exercises, the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press, you should learn how to strength train long term.

This way, you can learn to make progress slowly and not injure yourself.

In fact, this program is what I am currently using.

I am doing 5/3/1 Forever and it will help you learn and implement strength training systems and principles so that you continue to make progress.

Too many runners neglect using weights to supplement their running.

Build a strong base and learn how to train in the gym so that your running enthusiasm can improve.




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