the fat body and running

I’ve had a bit of a relationship with running. We’ve been on and off (ok, mostly off) for a long time. I think, “running seems so fabulous. so…effortless, so…just me and the road, so tranquil” and then i do it and think, “what the ever loving fresh hell?! this hurts! i quit.” And then I go, “but it’s free! and so many of your friends do it! maybe if you just kept at it a little longer you would find the runner inside yourself!” So i do it some more. But then I get frustrated because if you’re fat and want to run, your choices for running clothes are, um, zero. It’s cotton for all fatties! We want you to lose weight and stop being a burden on society, what with all your health and your obesity and your OMGDEATHZ, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to make it easier on you by offering, I don’t know, cute yet functional and breathable running clothes in your size? please. (athleta, I’m looking at YOU)

So, yes, that is the relationship in a nutshell. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but those are the cliffs notes. I started running (and I should say by “running” i mean jogging and sometimes walking/jogging, not, like, sprinting with the speed of the wind or anything) after I graduated from college a little over 12 years ago. The purpose was losing weight. And I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I had no idea what I was doing (other than putting one foot in front of the other in a speedy manner and propelling myself forward, I mean), but it was a nice way to see and learn the neighborhood a few times a week. But then I stopped, for whatever reason I don’t remember, and I gained all the weight I had lost back (apparently that’s how diets work? /sarcasm). So the next time I picked up running, it was really really hard. It hurt because I didn’t have the proper gear and because, newsflash, when you have jiggly bouncy parts they tend to both jiggle and bounce more when you’re running. But I pushed myself because I was raised with the old “no pain, no gain” adage. This, of course, made me hate running because it came to represent yet another way I was failing – failing to lose weight, failing to have the better body, failing to enjoy a sport that so many do, etc etc. So I didn’t start running again for a long time.

Fast forward to grad school and I’m surrounded by, like, tons of wonderful friends who love to run! They do marathons, even! So I think “ok, this can’t be that bad.” In the Northwestern United States it’s like a damn rule that you run and love it and exclaim it to the world. I didn’t stop much to think about what I felt about running, and that was because I hadn’t yet started the mental heavy lifting and FA work that I did toward the end of grad school. So I started running again, doing the Couch to 5K training program that I had heard such wonderful things about. I quit that after about a month, not necessarily because I didn’t like the program, but because it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re running by yourself and I always felt awful running with other people because I, inevitably, would be much slower than anyone else and dragging people down to my level felt like shit. I had one friend I would run with that was awesome – she repeatedly told me that it didn’t matter the pace I ran, she just liked hanging out and she could always run ahead and then come back. And I believed her, but it didn’t matter. I still felt like a slow fatty mc slowpoke and I hated being that.

Now we’re here at this evening, where I just finished my second run under the Couch to 5K program with my sister. And I feel awesome. And this is the heaviest I’ve been in my whole life (i think, i don’t own a scale). This is certainly the “worst” shape I’ve been in in my life, but I feel pretty good! Part of that is because I finally get to look the part and however silly that sounds, it’s huge (pun intended). Nike carries extended sizes (granted, only up to a 3X, so I know that leaves out a big ‘ol portion of folks) and I purchased my first ever pair of dri-fit pants (hah, i wrote that as “dry-fat” pants at first). Anyway, dri-fit! That shit is magic! Does the rest of the world know about this? Anyway, yes, I get to wear cute clothes that are performance driven, which means that it makes it more comfortable to run. Which is awesome. The other awesome piece in all of this? I’ve decided to be nicer to myself and just go with the flow in terms of pacing. My sister runs ahead of me and I just plod along, not really giving a shit. And? There’s less pain associated with the jiggly bouncy parts because I’m not running super fast! genius! Last night when we went for our first run, I was really struggling with those old thoughts, “man, if you hadn’t let yourself get this bad, this wouldn’t be as hard right now” and “look how slow you’re going, does this even count as running?” and on and on. And I imagine I’ll still struggle with those thoughts now and then. But in the in-between moments, I’ve decided to be kind to my body. And look around and enjoy the actual ACT of running. It’s been kind of rainy the last couple nights, and running with a little mist blowing around, and twinkly lights around the lake, and the smell of bbq and weed and fresh cut grass? Not too shabby. And this time around, I’m not running to lose weight. I’m running to move my body more and enjoy the fresh air and spend more time with my sister. I also realize that i have a body that allows me to do this, so this is an ableist post. There are others that can’t do what I’m doing and I want to recognize that, while also celebrating this new piece of FA for me.


27 responses to “the fat body and running

  1. Yay! I am a fatty that runs too (and I blog about it). It’s too cold to run outside now, so I’ve been treadmilling at the gym but I miss getting outside and communing with nature and myself. I am also not fast at all, and it’s not like I’m running marathons or even 5ks, I do 2 miles 3 times a week. But it’s freeing to use my body in a way that it seems made for, you know? Nothing fancy, just shoes on and out the door. I also started with c25k many months ago and I don’t know if you could say I’ve ‘graduated’ since I actually haven’t gotten to the 5k part yet but it’s a process.

    You are 100% correct about the lack of gear for larger folks. For me the biggest hurdle was a sports bra that worked, but I found one and it made all the difference.

    Enjoy your running! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this post! I share your pains/loves of running, I too am heavy. I found 2 things that really helped: 1) proper shoes really do alleviate stress on the knees and with back pain. I love Saucony because they come in really wide sizes and have good arch support (I am in no way affiliated with the brand). 2) If you ever train/jog/walk at a gym on a treadmill, always give it a tiny incline (1 to 2%) to avoid knee and shin pain/stress. Happy trails! I can’t wait to get out and “wog” (walk-jog) once the snow melts…

    • haha, wog. i like it! I went to a fancy running shoe store the last time I did c25k, and I got a pair of…Asics I wanna say? Anyway, they’re busted now so I just bought some Nike ones at Nordstrom Rack. I’m wondering if perhaps I need to spend a bit more time and money on the shoe aspect?

  3. inspiring. i’ve had the couch-to-5-k plan bookmarked on my computer for months, just haven’t gotten there yet for myself. i’m hoping spring and lighter/later will help kick me into gear.

  4. Great post! I, too have had my run-ins with ahem…running. I have a belly so I really need a good piece of underwear to hold me in down there or it hurts. I am a slow poke as well and when the weather is nicer I jog/fast walk about 3 mi. 2-3x a week. Im not doing it to lose weight. Im doing it because it feels good and my stress totally melts. Though I agree, I have to look cute (yes even when running). I cannot wear baggy shirt and sweats either. thanks for this post 🙂

    • thanks for the comment! love your stuff on axisoffat.

      yeah, the thing with the belly is I found that if I wear super tight dri-fit it just holds it all in place. quite well, in fact. i’m excited to be in a place where i can jog 3 miles as well!

  5. A FATTY MC SLOWPOKE! WOGGING!! Those are WONDERFUL expressions that I’ll definitely reuse. I’ve always been a fatty mc slowpoke too. I hate being in a hurry, and I don’t move fast. when I was in High School it was a pain in the a$$ because people were mocking me, but I don’t give a crap anymore.

    I’ve been thinking about running for a long time, but I am also having problems with saggy breasts – belly, back and knee pain, feet pain.

    So I have to buy:
    – great supportive bra
    -Supportive, moisture wicking pants
    – comfortable, moisture wicking, non baggy top
    – orthesis to put in my New Balance shoes.

    If somebody knows where (online) I could buy 1x-2x (size 18-20) sport clothes, and not so darn expensive, I’d like to know 😀

    • aMEN to the moisture wicking stuff.

      I have zero suggestions for online less expensive stuff: most folks I know buy their workout stuff (even larger sizes) at places like Ross, Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls (1st and 3rd are West Coast specific, I think), oh, also TJ Maxx. I absolutely was not expecting to find pants that fit me at Nordstrom Rack, but I bought a pair of Adidas dri-fit pants for $25 in size XL and they totes work! I’m curious as to what other folks say.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention the fat body and running | the taking up of space --

  7. Hi! Great post, but a couple things I especially loved is “I’m running to move my body more and enjoy the fresh air and spend more time with my sister” and “I’ve decided to be nicer to myself and just go with the flow in terms of pacing.”

    I love that you’re running this time around because YOU want to, you’re enjoying it and it feels good – I hear you and it’s awesome!

    Pace can often be a touchy place for a lot of people. When I first started running a little over 2 years ago I was at my heaviest and I slowly worked my way up distance wise and ran a 10K. That race was a huge accomplishment for me, but it was also hard because a faster friend ran it with me and she kept running ahead and then coming back to me and it totally pissed me off. I just wanted to finish and feel relatively good, but I felt like I was holding her up or like I should be going faster.

    I’m at that place now where I really don’t care what my pace is, I’m just grateful that I can run and I do it for me. I’m around if you ever want to touch base about running!

    All the best!

    • Hi Melissa, thanks so much! I will definitely keep you in mind if I have questions! Right now my sister is the absolute perfect running partner, b/c i don’t get pissed that she runs ahead and then comes back. If it was my dad, for example, I would hate it 🙂 I’m hoping to do my first ever 5K in several weeks. I don’t care if I need to walk most of it.

  8. Yay, it’s great to read about other fatties running! I run every day and complete at least 2 marathons and several half-marathons a year. For the record, I’m faster and have more endurance now than I ever did when I was very thin many years ago–being at a size that is healthy for me really helps my performance. (I love to share this tidbit with my running friends when they inevitably start the “I just need to lose __ pounds and then I’ll be faster!” routine).

    • can I just say that I love the fact that you said “a size that is healthy for ME” (emphasis mine) 🙂

    • That’s so great to hear! A marathon is such a far-off dream for me but it’s super inspiring to hear that you’re doing it! And I also love that your body is comfortable and fast at the size it is– I have fallen victim to the “I will be faster if I lose weight” idea myself so I am glad to hear that it is not necessarily true 🙂

  9. I love this post.

    Dri-fit forever (!!!) and hats off to Nike for having the sense to make tech clothes for real women.

    I was so terrified of running until this time last year when I trained for my first half marathon. It is now one of the best things in my life (dramatic, I know). I am a super slow chubbster of a runner and sometimes I feel like a fool when people speed walk past me, but mostly I simply feel happy and healthy before during and after.

    Keep hitting the pavement 🙂


    • it is super scary when it feels like you’re in a place you don’t belong, doing something you have no business doing, right? but then you realize that it’s not necessarily the case! lightbulb!

      I do have to make note of your use of the phrase “real women,” which I hate 🙂 I’m 100% certain you didn’t mean it in a negative way, but I think when we start to use those words, and therefore dictate what is appropriate, then we’re not doing any favors to fatties, skinnies, and in-betweenies. however, that kind of language is SO pervasive in our culture that even I sometimes slip. You know i love you, mama!

  10. Pingback: I am not alone! | Running While Fat

  11. Pingback: Couch To 5k – 5k Training Schedule for beginners – 5K Running | sporting tips

  12. Man I have a different problem! Whenever I Decided To Start Running, I could not for the life of me figure out how to pace myself. I can sprint like a motherfucker for about 15 seconds. I can walk for miles. I can’t jog. Jogging makes me jiggle uncomfortably, regardless of what speed I do it at. And not just my jiggly parts – it hurts my knees and feet to come down on them with that much impact. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong? But I do love to bicycle. I do it all summer. It’s not morally inferior to running or anything. I suppose it doesn’t matter.

  13. I’ve always hated running, even when I was a kid pre-fat. I’m just not made for it. Speed and agility have never been my thing. However, when it comes to strength and endurance… I’m your gal, no matter what my size. This is why I love swimming, and riding my bike. But of course, no appropriate clothing for a mega fatty to do so. Swimsuits never have enough bust support (I was swimming the other day and as soon as I started freestyle stroke – POP! Out came my boob, even though I was wearing a bra under my togs!) and I can’t get the bike shorts with the padding in the butt like straight sizes have. So the amount of swimming and cycling I can do is always limited by the lack of clothing.

    No matter what activity one loves to do, fat people should be able to get suitable clothing to do so. Especially since we Fatty McFattersons are supposed to be “getting off the sofa and getting some exercise.”

    • oh, make no mistake, ain’t nothing speedy or agile about my running 🙂 Yes, what IS it with no boob support in swimsuits? this is annoying to women across the fatty spectrum, i feel. it’s ridiculous. i FINALLY found a cute suit with underwire in it, but of course it’s expensive as shit and still doesn’t offer THAT much support. If you find bike shorts with padding in the butt, let me know!

  14. just: i love you. for so many reasons, your blogs being one of them. you are rad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s