May 28

Let's get you in shape! Tricks for overweight runners. 

Running is one of the best forms of exercise. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on coaches or gear to get started and everyone knows how to do it.

It's efficient, time effective, and you can do it just about anywhere. But whether you are a dainty flyweight or a plodding Clydesdale, it is never easy. The most important thing to do is to establish a routine.

overweight running

Am I too Heavy to Run?

Short answer, no.

I heard a story yesterday about a father who weighed 315 pounds with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

This was at the end of 2017.

One afternoon he was chasing after his young daughter as he taught her to ride a bike.  He found he could not keep up and lost his breath quickly. Realizing this the risks of his lifestyle and worried about his family’s future, he decided to make a change. Now, only six months later, he has lost 80 pounds.

How?... Running


He began by mixing plus size running and walking together, with the goal of travelling three miles a day—a routine. Gradually, he began to run more than he walked as he started to shed weight.

Therefore, while you may need to start with more walking than running, you should be able to begin a daily exercise routine that includes running. Of course, make sure to clear this with your doctor before beginning.

There are plenty of stories like this one. Many even discuss people who are overweight and running a marathon.  But there is no need to start with something huge. The important part, which will be repeated time and time again, is getting into a routine.

It is clear that with the right amount of toughness and dedication, there is no such thing as “too heavy to run.” You do, however, want to proceed carefully as this is a high impact activity. If you jump in too quickly, you could increase your risk for injury. But, if you start with an easy routine and stick to it, you’ll notice results in no time.

Running for Overweight Beginners

wide shoe sizes

If you are overweight and reading this article, odds are you have a goal to improve your physical fitness.

You have come to the right place. 

Running is one of the cheapest, most convenient, and most effective forms of exercise. All you need is a pair of shoes and comfortable clothes.  But while it may be simple, that does not make it easy.

The first step is consistency.

Even if you are tough enough to go out and run 10 miles tomorrow, it will not do much for you. The most effective way to lose weight is to get into a routine that you can keep for a long period of time. This routine does not have to be anything crazy. In fact, it is often easier to start with something simple.

Once that routine is in place, make it a little more challenging each week to make sure you are maximizing your time. There are many plans and routines online. While many of these are great, we emphasize a consistent routine. Therefore, we developed our own plan below.

Remember, be patient with this plan. Take your time at each step. Make sure to dot the I’s and cross your t’s before moving on. The key throughout the plan is to ensure consistency. Every day, make sure to do some form of exercise to get your body moving.

Overweight/Obese Running Plan

Step 1: Check with your Doctor

Before engaging in any exercise, visit a medical professional to make sure you are approved for the activity. This applies to running as well. Some people who are overweight and obese also have health problems that may prevent them from exercising safely. The risks associated with health problems may not be worth it.

Your doctor will likely put you through a number of tests to ensure you can exercise safely. They do this in a controlled environment. That way, if anything happens, they are there to take care of you. This is why we recommend that you visit a doctor and get their approval for exercise before you proceed to step 2.

doctors check

Step 2: Walking

Run/walking three miles a day like the father in our story may seem like a lot. If it does, that's fine, begin with something small. That may mean walking for ten minutes. Whatever it is, make it a part of your routine. Walking ten minutes for two weeks straight is an excellent start and may be necessary to set a routine that you can stick with.

Don’t be afraid to step it up after two weeks of consistent exercise.

Start walking harder and faster. Make your walk longer. Add some hills. Once you pass two weeks of creating your routine, begin to find ways to challenge yourself at least three of the seven days you exercise each week.

Step 3: Walk/Run

man running

Once you have established a routine of strapping on your shoes and heading out for your daily exercise routine, you may be ready to start some running.

> Start with a 5-10 minute walk warm up to get your blood flowing and prepare you. Try doing a 5-10 minute workout where you jog for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds. Then a 5-10 minute walk cool down to end your workout. Make sure your cool down is just as long as your warm up.

Keep this up until you can complete a 30-minute session

  • 10-minute warm-up
  •  10-minute run/walk workout
  • 10-minute cool-down

For at least a week straight. There is no need to push through this step.

It may take you five weeks or five months to be able to accomplish. If it gets too hard one day, don’t stress. Go out the next day and get recovered by going back to a 10-minute walk or something else easy. 

Whatever you do, DO NOT BREAK YOUR ROUTINE. This is the key. 

Remember that keeping in a routine of daily exercise is the most important part of this plan for losing weight.

Step 4: Run/Walk

Is this the same thing? Nope.

Step four represents the step where you begin to be able to run more than you can walk. At this point, you should notice that you have already lost some weight. You should feel more energized, have a better range of motion, perhaps less joint pain; accompanied by many other benefits. When you’ve made it this far, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on your progress. 

Keep it up!

At this point, start challenging that ten-minute warm up. Instead of limiting yourself to run 30 seconds before taking a 30-second walk break, try increasing how long your run interval is.

But take small steps.

Spend a week doing 40 seconds of running before your walk break; then, move it to 50, then a minute, and so on.

Once you reach two minutes of running without a break, begin by reducing the length of your walk break. Make it a 20-second break, then a 10-second break. You’ll soon realize you no longer need a walk break and can run 10 minutes in a row without stopping. 

At this point, you are killing it!


You are officially a runner and have taken a huge leap down the road to a healthy lifestyle.

Step 5: Running

You are a runner now. You don’t need walk breaks! 

We do recommend keeping your 10-minute walking warm up and cool down though. At some point you might want to shift your warm up and cool down into light trotting, but there is no rush. Just make sure you ease into your warm-up and ease out of your cool down to help prevent injuries.

Now you should be ready for a little more. Lets push it to 10 minutes of solid running with no breaks.

Once you have established this for a week in a row, start moving that number up.

Try 15 minutes, then 20. Slowly work it up to challenge yourself, but there is no need to bite off too much at once.

Take your time and remember, keep that daily routine in place. Even if that means you have one day a week where you go back to only walking 10 minutes to recover. Hold yourself accountable to putting on those shoes and getting exercise every day.

“Hard things take time, impossible things take a little longer.”                         Percy Cerutty, one of the most famous track coaches of all time.

The good news is losing weight is not impossible, just hard. Rely on that routine though and you will see results in no time!

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About the Author

Hayden Cox is a former NCAA DI athlete in Cross Country and Track. He has had the opportunity to work with 2x U.S. Olympian, Robert Gary, and a host of elite athletes at the collegiate and professional level. Hayden's ideal day consists of an early morning long run on a mountain trail followed by a giant bowl of pasta and a chocolate milkshake (just don't tell anyone about the milkshake!)

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