Adventures of a Plus Size Runner….
I started running when I was 260 lbs (ish). It was gift I gave myself for my birthday, a learn to run
course. I had been a runner in elementary school loving cross country and longer track races. I had runmy first 10K at age 11 and my only goal was to hopefully be as fast as that tween again!
I started slow with run-walks and built up to 20 min. It was still 10:1’s though. At the end of the clinic I pushed beyond the time and completed my first 5K. I jumped into a 10K clinic and that year I continued to run, I’d found my passion, and lost weight (I had also joined Weight Watchers). Soon I wasn’t running to lose weight but losing weight to run! I signed up for a half marathon. By the time the Half rolled around I was down to 190lb. Fit for me but still wasn’t down to what Weight Watchers considered ideal.
Now I have two 50K’s under my belt. I got my weight back down to that 190lb but anything under 180lb still seems elusive. I’m mostly okay with that. I know that I can move this body over mountains, along trails and even get speedy (for me!). My mentor reminded me to remember why I was running, that if the motivation was to lose weight, it would be a much different process than if I wanted to get strong and build my endurance. The weight loss would come but not be the motive. During the training for my first 50K my body got so strong, I was so proud of it and so happy.
I’m still the big girl when I toe the line or join a community for a group run. I can be hard on myself on any given run day but I also can feel good when I move my body and secretly know with the work I put in that I belong there with all the body types.
Running is such an individual sport in a big community! Things that work for me, may not work for you but here are a few gear things to consider whether you are starting your running journey or miles into it!
My top recommendations:
Shoes. Invest in good shoes. We spend hours and miles on our feet. As a plus size runner we are
putting even more forces on our feet as we pound the pavement. Go to a good running shop. It can be
intimidating. I still find myself justifying that I need good shoes for my training. I personally run in
Altra’s. I have a wide toes and they fit me beautifully.
Shorts/leggings. Ahh the dreaded bottoms. Trying to find something that doesn’t ride up or fall down. That doesn’t chafe. In terms of shorts, I like tight spandex ones that are fitting, finding ones that don’t slid up still can be hit and miss. I prefer these to the more basic run short but looking for a longer inseam is important to prevent some of the chafing. As for capris or leggings, I prefer ones with a tie up waist, if I can find them. For me they just hold up better , they have less chance of sliding down or rolling under my belly.
Some good makes: Running Room caters to beginner runners and seems to size their clothes a bit more generously. Kari Traa, I love her clothes and her models have real strong quads!
Bra. The changing point in my running was getting a good bra. I remember doing the double bra thing just to keep the girls in some control. Then I discovered a local online sports bra company. I was able to go in and get a proper fitting for the proper bra for me. For me it had to hold the chest with little movement. I’m good with a lighter sports bra for strength work or yoga but bring out the big gun for my runs. I still get some chafing but nothing a little Body Glide hasn’t fixed.
My bra of choice is Enell. It’s not pretty, my husband calls it my body armour but it holds me firm. A full back on it, and many clips, I can’t say enough good things about the support it gives and I’ve worn it while nursing and for ultramarathons.
Hydration. Hydration belts I find bounce and sit funny either above or below my belly! 🙂 For anything under 90mins I use a handheld that holds about 500ml of water. Over 90min I use a hydration pack, the key thing is still having a proper fit through my chest. I’d love a hydration vest so I could carry both water and electrolytes but most sit with the bottles right on the boobs! It’s a work in progress.
Gear. Other key piece of gear is some form of anti-chafing. Most common is Body Glide. It’s a lifesaver! Inner thighs always, sometimes when I wear a tank my arms and depending on the distance and heat my bra line too. Bonus is I also now use it when I wear a skirt!
I know that this list isn’t exhaustive. There are lots of other gear choices and things to consider out
there. The biggest thing is to run happy! If you aren’t enjoying it (most of the time!) what’s the point!
Run Strong! Run Happy!