What It Is Like to be a Fat Runner


So this site leaves little doubt about my physical stature.  I am a fat guy.  Or, at the very least, a recovering fat guy.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight, 116 pounds at my pinnacle.  I am physically nowhere near what I was as recently as 2010, and for that, I am very thankful.  It was not an easy journey to get here, both with my initial weight-loss and trying to maintain a healthy weight since.  Never once in my adult life have I been at my recommended weight, and maybe I never will be.  I am fine with that as long as the rest of my health  measurables as well as my physical activity are at the optimum levels.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, and the such are much more important to me than the number on the scale.  I know others do not agree with this approach, but seeing where I was a few years ago, I think that it is tremendous progress from a guy in college that would routinely eat his recommended daily caloric intake in each meal!

Lap Those on the Couch

This blog was started after the bulk of my weight-loss occurred and actually, I have gained a few pounds since I started blogging.  However, this blog was began to not only give some insight into my running and weight management journey, but to also give some advice on my experiences running large.  I have not given much insight into this field as of yet, but today will be a big one.  This post will share what to expect on race day when you are not the prototypical runner.

True Story

True Story

People are going to look at you funny.  Do not get too caught up in this.  You do look different from others out there, but you are running the same miles as everyone else.  Enjoy it.

Don’t take offense to what people say to you.  Often at races, after staring at me for a few moments, people will approach me to talk about why I am running.  I have heard a variety of things, both to my face and seemingly out of my earshot (little do people know that my hearing is great and I observe quite a bit around me).  The following are some of the most common things that have been said to/about me at a race:

“More people like you should run.” – The sentiment is in the right place, but it can come across the wrong way

“You’re running? Really?” – Yep, I’m fat, and I will be running this race.  It is incredible, isn’t it?

“Is this your first race?” – If you are fat, obviously this is your first race because if you have ever ran a race before, you would not be fat anymore.

“You finished how fast?” – I love this one.  This often is people who assume that I am going to lumber in front of the sweepers for the entire race.

Do not worry about what people say.  The vast majority of them have the best of intentions when they talk to you.  They may come across the wrong way, but they are not meaning to.  Just smile, thank them, and run the best race that you can.

If the race is giving away a tech shirt, chances are that they are going to be an athletic cut.  Some company’s have fuller cut versions of tech shirts, like Nike and Under Armour.  Others run a little tight.  I wear an XL in the vast majority of my shirts, but for certain races, especially the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, I need to order a XXL.  So when registering for a race, just be mindful that the shirt might not be a fuller cut.

Make sure to stay fueled/hydrated.  This is great advice for anyone running a race, however, when there is a little more meat on the bones, we think that our excess weight will fuel us along.  Fueling, regardless of the fuel, is vital to performance.  Do not try avoid fueling at a race to save some time unless you routinely run the distance at race intensity without fuel while training.  Do what you do on a training run during the race.

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

Finish.  This is why you are at the race in the first place, some complete the damn thing!  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 30 minutes or 4 hours, finish.  The sense of accomplishment and pride that you will get will circumvent any discomfort you might be feeling during the race.  The number of people who hate life while running a race that almost immediately register for another one after crossing the finish line is staggering.  This will likely be the same for you.

Every. Single. Time.

Every. Single. Time.

Your finishing time may be humbling…to you and others.  You will be surprised what a surge of adrenaline can do for you during a race.  You run one way during a training run, but when surrounded by several other runners and the prospect of finishing can boost your time quite a bit.

Slow still counts!

Slow still counts!

For others, they often see you and think “I can beat that guy.”  Often, they are right.  But you cannot judge a book by its cover.  In my first half marathon in 2011 I completed the course 15 minutes faster than my next closest friend, who happens to be the epitome of physical fitness.  I crushed his time.  It happens, so when it does, enjoy it.  A second example of this happened the same year for me at a 5K.  There was another runner there that I had some mutual friends with, but we never were that close.  We both set PR’s that day, but I happened to be about 30 seconds faster.  He asked what my time was, I told him, and his reaction simply was “Oh…” and then he walked away.  It happens.  Just congratulate others on their race, embrace yours, and go on.  There is no need for negativity.  Like I said earlier, you all ran the same miles.

You are a runner, embrace it and do not feel ashamed about it.  Wear your race shirt out, leave your medal on as long as you like, tell people about your experience.  You have earned it!

Congratulations on your accomplishment and I hope to see your out there one day!

9 thoughts on “What It Is Like to be a Fat Runner

  1. I love this! I am so inspired by people like you!

    Every time I go cheer on others at a race, I’m constantly surprised at the diversity of people that run it. I’ve always thought I “couldn’t,” but people like you make me believe I CAN!

  2. That takes a lot of courage to share your experiences of being overweight and running. Keep on doin’ what ya do. Everyone was not meant to be the same body type. And of course, we all know the skinny one’s are not always the healthy ones.

  3. Thank you for sharing this experience. I am a runner wannabe and I am currently working myself up there. I started a few days ago and is still in my walking phase. This sharing of your give me more motivation to be a runner

  4. This is so perfect! I am heavier than most people I see at races, but have gotten rid of close to 40 pounds. I am still not where I’d like to be speed wise, but I have run a half marathon and finished, something even fitness gurus can’t say. I think that we get to have a greater story to tell starting off as bigger people, and that makes it ten times more amazing. Thanks for writing this!

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