Friday, 2 May 2014

Guest Post: Too Fat to Run?

Image © The Fat Girls Guide to Running | Too Fat to Run? Sounds a bit harsh really doesn’t it? But that is what a doctor told me a few weeks ago when I went in complaining of a trapped nerve in my back, caused by lifting my daughter. He took one look at me and basically said I was not fit enough to run the marathon I was due to run that month. He didn’t care that I had lost close to 5 stone that year, and it didn’t matter that for months I had been running 3-4 times a week, or that I had completed a 20 mile training run just 2 weeks prior, he basically just saw the size of me and assumed that I was too fat to run.To add insult to injury he suggested that I was only doing the marathon to raise money for a charity, because of course a fat person would never run that far simply because they just enjoyed running and challenging themselves.Well screw you doctor, and screw everyone else who has ever seen me and made assumptions about what I can or can’t do with my fat body.

Its not just doctors that are prejudice; my running journey began because a snotty nosed kid poked fun at me, calling me fatty when I was running, and it was that incident that led to me becoming a fat girl that runs. That was over 10 years ago, and I have competed in well over 100 races since, everything from 5k up to marathon distance, so I reckon that qualifies me as a runner somehow, and having been everything from a dress size 14 up to a 22, and possibly more when I was pregnant in 2012, I am living proof that there is no such thing as being ‘Too Fat to Run’.

I guess that leaves one big question though, “if you are such a great runner, why are you still fat?” It’s a reasonable question to ask, the answer however is not so straight forward. Running isn’t THE best weight loss exercise, especially not distance running, as it makes you so hungry and it makes your body store fat in some cases. I don’t always follow the most consistent of diets either, I mean I know what and how much to eat, but sometimes I choose not to play ball which means I don’t lose weight or put it back on again in a typical yo-yo pattern. But I also had a baby 17 months ago, and during pregnancy I put on all of the weight I had lost and more, bringing me back to square one; not just in terms of my weight, my fitness was back to zero too.

The point is despite being a size 16/18 and 30lbs or so overweight I don’t actually run for weight loss any more anyway. I run because I love to run. Even though it’s a tough sport, and its not nice being ridiculed and pointed at in the street, running enables me to push my body using it in the way it was designed to be used. My persistent running through the busy streets near where I live is a metaphorical middle finger aimed towards anyone who has ever doubted the capabilities of someone carrying extra weight.

So what about you? Can you run? Do you run? I bet you have a ton of reasons or dare I say excuses why running is not for you. Bad knees, asthma or the classic “my boobs would knock someone out”. Well I don’t buy it. If done right running can be a great form of exercise for plus size women, whether it’s for weight loss or simply just to improve health and wellbeing.

So why not give it a go? Scared? Or don’t know where to start? Well, I write a running blog for plus size women; The Fat Girls Guide to Running, which is full of useful information on how to get started. I also deliver unique 1 day running retreats where only fat girls are allowed. The first ones are in East London but they could be coming to an area near you soon. Why not join my Facebook community for plus size runners and see just how many other fat women are out there running too.

Written by Julie (of The Fat Girls Guide to Running)


  1. I am absolutely horrified that your doctor said that, that's awful, I would expect them to be better educated than that.
    I have a myriad of excuses to not run, my main one at the moment is that I can't afford running shoes and I hear they need replacing regularly too and I have no income. Ultimately though, I'm scared to try it, I tried the '30 Day Shred' exercise DVD and found myself crying, exercise actually makes me feel awful instead of good so I need to get over that fear that it will kick start a depressive episode in me and do it anyway.

    1. Julie's experience with her GP is unfortunate but sadly not uncommon.

      Do you WANT to run or otherwise exercise? If so, I would say find something that suits you/you enjoy and start from there. Maybe see if a friend wants to get involved as well, as that always helps. There are lots of options! Personally I used to really enjoy zumba before I moved. I'm not up on running kit, Julie would be best to speak to about that; yes you're probably better off with 'decent' running shoes etc, but not all spots require expensive equipment, so perhaps there's ways to 'get by' x