Sign up to any race and you’ll see that runners come in all shapes and sizes. That’s part of what makes running so special – anyone can be a runner. There is no licence to earn, no membership to pay for, you don’t have to look a certain way, you don’t have to be fast – you just have to run.
No matter what your size or shape, running isn’t always easy and, if you’ve never run before, getting started can be damn hard – but we’re here to show you how to approach the sport with confidence while ensuring you look after your body. Here are our top tips for plus-sized runners…
There is no doubt that your first few runs will be a bit uncomfortable, but don’t panic, this is normal and it will subside as you get fitter. However, there are few things you can do to avoid being put off on day one.
First off, invest in a little bit of kit to support and flatter your curves – an old baggy t-shirt might seem like the safe option but it will bunch up, chafe and cover up your amazing shape! You don’t need to go for fitted kit if you don’t feel confident in it yet, but we recommend you look for tops and tights in technical fabrics that will carry sweat away from your skin.
Your starting point though should be a good bra. As with any bra, fit is key to both function and comfort. Bigger busted girls are likely to find this the trickiest gear to get right but there are plenty of options out there for you – tried and tested options include the Shock Absorber Run bra, which now goes up to a 38F, and isn’t too restrictive. Enell and Lynx are other good brands for bigger-breasted girls.
When it comes to shoes, again you should steer clear of raiding the bottom of your wardrobe for old gym sneakers. You’ll need a pair of well-cushioned shoes to cope with the impact of running. If you are planning to lose a bit of weight, keep in mind that your running style and shoe needs might change, so it’s a good idea to visit a specialist running shop after your first few months to be reassessed.
No matter how much you’d like to lose, you still need to fuel your body with enough food to give it the energy it needs to run. In fact the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll need to fuel your running – that holds true whether or not you’re trying to shed weight. Be warned, if you’re happy with your curves and looking to hold onto them, it’s quite likely you will change shape a bit but we promise the feeling of strength achievement and exta endorphins will be worth it!
One of the brilliant things about running is that it means you can eat more of what you fancy – but don’t forget to keep your new fitness regime fuelled with slow- release carbs and plenty of protein to help with recovery.
Now for the serious bit. Being overweight carries risks which you’ve no doubt been lectured about before – high blood pressure and poor heart health among them, so although running will improve your health and fitness, if you are worried, you should check in with your GP before you start training.
Your GP can check your current heart health and advise you on how to gradually get into running so you’re not putting yourself in danger. Make sure you ask your parents about your family history too as this information can be really helpful to the doctor.
“When a patient comes in who is overweight and wants to start running, I love it! I’d always encourage them,” says resident GP and runner, Dr Juliet McGrattan, “But I’m always careful to stress that they’ve got to start slowly with a walk, then a walk/run, and build up gradually to a run. They need to get good shoes and take extra care of their joints because of the impact of running, and they will need a bit longer for recovery between runs. I’d also reassure them that as long as they feel OK with what they’re doing, it’s alright to get out of breath.”
Everyone feels a bit nervous the first time they run, but if you really want to get out and get running but just can’t stand the thought of going it alone – don’t. Running clubs are very inclusive and welcoming, more so now than ever, and almost all of them have their fair share of beginners. Find your nearest running club online, get in contact and join in on their next beginners run!