Those of you that have been following me from the beginning know of my weight loss story. To sum it up, I found myself at 300lbs and wanted to run. This is what this whole post is about. Wanting. to. run.
When I tried the first time to start running, (at 300lbs), I learned a very valuable lesson. If you don't start slowly and carefully, you get hurt. End. of. story.
I went out and bought a nice pair of cushioned supportive running shoes and went to the gym. I tried to run after not having done it for 25+ years, and I felt like a cow running in a field. My feet would plop plop plop loudly against the floor and I felt like the whole building could hear the fat lady trying to run. My "trying to run" actually consisted of a fast walk/shuffle, as that was all I could do at the time. Long story short, I got too aggressive and ended up injured. Badly.
This is an image of the MRI of my right ankle. I messed up the peronal brevis tendon, and had to have surgery to repair it.
Lucky for me, I had a fantastic surgeon here in Bangor, and he did an amazing job. I feel so fortunate to have had good results. I worked hard at my physical therapy, and did lots of research about running, and running shoes.
So here's my question.. do you run to lose weight? Or lose weight to run? I should have done the latter the first time around. I learned the hard way, and I have the scar to prove it. When you weigh 300lbs you have a whole bunch of things against you. The extra weight affects everything in your life. E V E R Y T H I N G. When thinking about starting exercise there are a few things that you should absolutely do first...
Sit down and make a list of goals. Include things like what you want to accomplish physically, mentally, and emotionally. Think about your younger years, and if you were thinner, and how you felt.. How do you want to feel in the future? How do you want to look? What sort of things do you want to do once you're healthy again? Write all of these things down on a chart and post them somewhere out in the open where you will see it daily. This will help to keep you focused and accountable to yourself and your goals.
Next, go see your health practitioner and get the ok to start a weight loss with exercise regime. You need to be sure that your body can handle the upcoming stresses that you will be putting on it. If you haven't had a recent checkup or physical, now would be the time to do it. Once you have the O K you are ready for the next step. Bring your goal chart with you.. this way the provider knows you are serious and will get an idea of what you want to accomplish, most of all, while helping you to do it safely and under control.
Next, if you really want to run, you need to do some research about the different kinds of shoes. There are all kinds of running shoes, from the most minimal ones to the heavily cushioned ones. No two people have the same feet, so what works for your neighbor, may not work for you. I discovered early on that I was not able to run in Asics shoes. The day I slipped my feet into them at the store, I was in love. So cushy and comfortable, I didn't want to take them off. As you read above, I got hurt in those shoes. Not sure why, but long story short, they didn't work for me. Since it took me a year to get back on both feet, I spent many MANY hours doing research about the different types of shoes. I was very intrigued about the "minimalist" type.. the ultra flat ones with hardly any cushion. Being an xraytech, I would read these articles, and pick them apart in my brain, from a medical standpoint. The more I read, the more I was intrigued.
(some of my Mizuno's)
One thing you absolutely cannot do is just start running in a minimal shoe!!! Going from a regular every day type of shoe or sneaker to a flat one, will cause tons of problems, and needs to be done on a step by step (pun intended) basis. Transitioning down to a flat shoe is the ONLY way to do this. "But I have bad knees! But I have flat feet!" I have heard it all... Issues like these can be fixed by weight loss and changing footwear for some people. It takes some time though, and has to be done correctly like I said above. Transitioning is key! I of course just had to test the theory by going right out and buying some VFF's, Vibram five fingers, and wearing them around the house right away. I hadn't even started my diet program yet! I found out quickly that all that research I had done was correct. I started having pain in my feet and legs, and my ankle was very cranky. I very quickly put them away.
I discovered Peter Larson's Runblogger website. Pete is one of the most well known running shoe enthusiasts. He spends many hours researching and writing for his blog, and does wear testing and reviewing for almost all of the running shoe companies. His reviews are honest, and non biased. I contacted him, and told him my story, and asked where I should start looking seriously for shoes.. He and I spoke about the transition process and after some research, I decided on the Saucony Kinvara 2 shoe. That shoe had a 4mm heel to toe drop, and was a good shoe to try first. Luckily for me, it was perfect. Just enough cushion that I didn't feel my feet were smashing against the ground, but I could still "feel" the ground under my feet, and I liked that feeling.
The "losing weight" part... Yes... you will need to lose weight to be an effective runner. How much, depends totally on you. I tried to "diet" on my own, and got nowhere. I finally joined a local Weight Watchers program and was extremely successful. I found it to be very easy to follow and I was still able to eat pretty much anything I wanted as long as I kept track. The weight started to melt off, and to this day I have kept it off.
In the beginning I lost weight to be able to run. Now that I have reached a comfortable weight, I can now run and totally enjoy it. Am I at my goal weight? No. I still have about 45lbs to go. It is getting much harder to lose, but my running keeps me focused and on task. It would be very easy to slip back into the fat suit of a couple years ago, but I am determined not to let that happen.
Once you start running, get involved with other runners.. do races, join a club.. find someone to at least talk to about running. You will need the fellowship of another runner. I have met some great people now that I am running again. Two of them are local to me, in Maine. Jen from Runningwiththgirls.com and Carrie from Mainemomontherun.com. They make me smile every time I talk to or see them. Love those girls! There are many more "Mainuh" runner friends, but my blog would be full of pictures and no text!
I have had the luxury of hiring one of the most successful coaches in the USA, Caleb Masland. He himself is an amazing runner, and we have people on our team from all over the world. He sends me a schedule each week, which comprises of days of running, workouts, and cycling. Keeps me busy and focused. I bought a new road bike, which I love. I have found that enthusiasm from my earlier years of biking, once again.
If you are struggling to lose weight and need someone to help you get on track, feel free to contact me via email at weez (at) dreamingfullcircle (dot) com. I am not a physician, but I can help give you some ideas on how to get started, if needed. I have access to lots of resources in the running field, that I can refer you to also. If I can conquer obesity, you can too. Please don't ever feel that you aren't worth it. You totally are. There is a "new you" inside, just waiting to be let out. There's no time like the present to get started!
If this post inspires just one person, I will have met my goal. :)