Am I too Fat to Run?

I’m a gal who carries a bit of extra weight (boobs and butt, if you’re wondering). Since puberty I’ve fluctuated by a handful of pounds depending on the season and what type of activity I’m into at any given time. Overall though–and throughout my entire life–regular physical activity and healthful eating has been a priority. While there may be one or two things about my body that I’d like to change (as there seems to be with most women), for the most part, I feel good physically and am happy with how I look.

Last summer, my workplace offered a lunchtime running club, which I saw as a fun opportunity to get outside for an hour mid-day. Thus, running became my activity du jour. It was a lot of fun too. I enjoyed the dedicated break for sunshine and exercise and it was nice getting to know co-workers with whom I might not otherwise engage on a day-to-day basis. By the end of the summer, we were all doing pretty well. Our endurance had grown and we were averaging the 5km mark. I even went out for a few races (including Mud Hero, which was the best time ever).

When the club was re-offered this spring, I jumped at the chance to have the same experience as last time (and even start some training for this year’s Mud Hero). After a long winter of not-running, I knew I’d be starting again from scratch. Now, I haven’t been entirely sedentary. I go to a fabulous spinning class at the Canada Games Centre with everyone’s favourite watermelon-blogger, Justine, and obviously Rigby doesn’t let me off the hook when it comes to his walking, hiking, and his otherwise exhausting playtime routines. Still, I know it’s going to take me some time to get back into it…and that’s okay.

At the end of my first week back at it, I finished today’s run feeling great. We were doing a run:walk ratio of 5:1 and I had finished each set of 5 feeling strong. As we wrapped up the final lap, my pal and I high-fived and the instructor (a new one for me this session) jogged over to congratulate us.

Well done! That was especially good for you…

She put her arm around me.

Since you’re at a real disadvantage…

Disadvantage? Oh, she must be referring to those shin splints that were halting me up last time. Those guys have been a real pain over the years, but-

because of your weight.

Uh, what?

You really should be watching your joints with what you’re carrying.

Ouch! Tears immediately rose to my eyes. Fortunately, the icy wind of “spwinter” here in Halifax provided a decent cover. I immediately asked myself,

Am I too fat to be running?

The answer, in my I’m-an-expert-on-my-body-therefore-I’m-an-expert expert opinion is


Now, I know her comment came from a good place. I get it. I do. She was trying to be encouraging and instructional and keep me aware of the issues she feels are important for this exercise. Still, her comment presupposes some pretty crucial information and neglects some of my own personal truths, including:

  1. I know my body.
    As I said, I’m the expert on myself. While I do like to push it in a workout session, I also know when enough is enough. I’m fine to walk-it-off or take a stretch if I need to. I also know my past injuries and know how to adapt most workouts to avoid exacerbating them or re-injuring myself.
  2. I am not a beginner.
    Not only did I participate in this same running club just last year, but most summers I’ve spent time re-introducing jogging into my repertoire. Sometimes I work up to 5km or so, other times not so much. Oh, and there was even one time I entered a 5km, got lost, and accidentally ran 10km. Good times. Above and beyond this, I have a good range of exercise experience. I was a competitive swimmer for nearly half my life and throughout the seasons I regularly hike, bike, and x-country ski–with a handful of team sports tossed into a few of those past years for good measure.
  3. I know the basics of exercise physiology.
    Though I guess it’s not obvious to look at me now, my younger years on the pool deck included some pre-competitive/competitive swim coaching as well as teaching AquaFit, which included CALA training. I did spend the required time learning the basic physiology essential and necessary to be able to deliver in those capacities. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’m any sort of authority on the matter, but I do think that I’ve retained, at the very minimum, an understanding of how my body works while performing most functions.

So, onward I will go.

Here I come again, Mud Hero!

I want to continue with the running club. I want to forget the words of the instructor and push through to my goal of increasing my strength and endurance. Is it going to be harder for me than the lighter women in the club? Maybe. Do I need anyone to acknowledge that? No. As if I need the excuse!

The first few runs of the season are tough for all of us. In the end, if it’s making you feel good, all that matters is sticking with it. Regardless of your size.



18 thoughts on “Am I too Fat to Run?

  1. Wow that is unbelievable. Or at least it should be. My wife had a similar comment at a spin class, a sort of backhanded, ‘good job’. As I have been working on gaining more fitness I have been keeping in mind advice someone passed to me, ‘so long as you eat well, and exercise whatever shape your body takes is fine.’

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I should also say it was comments like this that discouraged me the last time I tried going to the gym, shortly after I signed up and started going again (a number of years ago) I saw on Facebook someone posting that they couldn’t wait until Feb when all the ugly fat people left the gym again. I was pretty shaky in my confidence at the time and that was all it took, and now here I am four years later trying again. I wish I had had the confidence then to shake it off and keep going, I would be a lot further ahead.

    • Thanks, Christopher. I hope you and your wife haven’t been discouraged by those types of comments. I’m not letting them get to me! When it comes down to it, it’s a simple matter of judging a book by its cover; you can’t tell anything about people’s experience, ability, drive or determination based on whether or not they meet the physical attributes of a typical gym-goer. I think it’s great that you’re going for it again- as long as it’s making you feel good, go for it!

  3. Dude! No fucking way are too fat to run and no one should be telling you anything of the sort. Seems pretty inappropriate of her. Does she have personal concerns for everyone else in the club? Did she ask what everyone’s history with running was? How does she know you’re not solid muscle? Once in gym class, a girl poked my thighs trying to figure my body out. She didn’t understand how I could look ‘fat’ but have muscular thighs. I also had an experience in Alberta at a horseback riding place. They asked for our weight on the phone when we booked so they could match up the horses. I told her my weight, 190 lbs and when I showed up she was flabbergasted and said I was the smallest 190lb person she’d every seen. But I wasn’t lying! That was my weight. It’s all about knowing your body and feeling supported in living a healthy lifestyle. I’m hoping to not be too afraid to run after the baby in the summer but I’m nervous. Now you have to keep running so that I’m motivated by you! You can do it! and screw her!

    • I was/am totally thinking what you are! Not only does she not know me or my history, but she doesn’t even know my running goals. It’s annoying enough that she would assume it has anything to do with my weight. Weight loss is not my primary goal, endurance is. It’s double annoying that an experienced fitness trainer wouldn’t know better than to make assumptions based on my appearance. Just because I’m not thin, doesn’t mean I can’t do well in the running club.

      And just because you’re poppin’ out baby number 2 (yay!), doesn’t mean you can’t get your run on this summer. I’ll cheer you on from here!

    • It’s tough to fault people when you know it’s coming from a good place. I just have to remember that it wasn’t her intention to get me down. 🙂

  4. Unreal. It never ceases to amaze me what some people feel entitled to say to another about their weight. Great attitude Krista! Can’t wait to hear about all your ass-kicking you’ll do at run club this year! 🙂

    • My version of “ass-kicking” is just surviving the workout! haha But now that the sun is out more, (please don’t let that jinx it!) I’m thinking it’ll be a good season!

  5. I have read and reread (and reread – again) this post and I am seriously bewildered as to what the heck the “instructor” was thinking. No good could come from her words. I am trying really hard not to be all rage-y, but I am. I am annoyed to no end that you – out there minding your business trying to do something good and positive for yourself – had to stand there with an obnoxious and insincere stranger’s arm around your shoulders, suppressing tears and what?!?! Taking that garbage? UGH!

    See? Can’t do it. Can’t *not* be rage-y. Sorry. I am so full on perturbed on your behalf. GAH!

    You said it best above- “As if I need the excuse!”. That’s how I feel. This is why *I* am not running. And I am mad at myself for letting myself believe this bunk.

    Thanks for a great post I have shared this many times over and this is what we’ve come up with: Our society is so focused on the actual physical size of body. If we could coach our coaches with appropriate comments as well as their body knowledge that would be fantastic. (Yeah, my BFF totally rocks!)

    • Thanks for all your empathy-rage! I really do appreciate the support!

      I think you’re right. Size is too often used as a sole determinant of health and, unfortunately, that sets some mighty narrow parameters that excludes a lot of us from fitting the bill. If you want to run, go for it! I’ll be here to cheer you on!

      • You are welcome. Te good thing about empathy rage is that, for me anyway, it drives me to be that change. C25K here I come. I may be the slowest. I may run slower than walkers, but I am going to do it. That’s it! 😀

        You totally rock!

        And even if the instructor didn’t mean to be unkind, she was. It’d be great for her to pause and think *before* speaking. 😉

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