How A Fat Guy Can Start Running

I was (am) overweight. For sure, for real.  I’ve cut about half what I wanted to lose.  The other half is melting off.

To get rid of weight, I needed to run.  Nothing is running, nothing is close to running.  Only running is running.  It’s about putting your feet down and saying “I AM.” And I loved it when I used to do it, it felt amazing, you got lost sometimes, and you could just seer your lungs and run.  When I ran, I was at my lowest weight.  Then… life, depression and real estate happened.  I got fat. (More on this as we can).

But, the reality was – last year at about this time – that I was fat.  Probably close to 280#, hard to tell for sure.  I am cursed with a body that “carries it well,” so the real depth of my obesity was known only to my poor wife who had to endure my weight when she would “take one for the team.”

So, enough about me.  You’re reading this to learn how fat men can run.

Step 1: Don’t hide from the clock.   When I started in December, 2011, I could only do one mile in 11:50.  That was the FASTEST I could run.  I logged it, and it was embarrassing   I know dozens of people that can beat a 6 minute mile at will.  I used to be able to get into the 5:40-5:50 range in my late teens.  And I wasn’t all that fit.  Measure this:

  • Fastest Cold Mile
  • Fastest Mile
  • Fastest two miles.
  • Fastest 5k
  • Fastest 5 miles.
  • Longest stretch without stopping.
  • Longest daily milage
  • Longest weekly milage
You just keep it in a notebook/iphone Evernote account/whatever.  You need to know where you stand.  (Same deal with weights, which I’ll get into later).
Step 2: Run Hard, Run Long (Towards Pain) A lot of the ‘couch to 5k programs’ start pretty slowly and want you to feel good about minimal gains.  What you want is big gains fast.  Time is passing, and you have more to give than those programs offer.   You have to run hard: figure out your fastest quarter mile, and shoot for a mile at that pace within 10 days.  Then shoot for 1.5 miles, and then 2.  Your quarter time will quickly improve as you get used to how it feels.
Run Long: try to run for 40-45 minutes with minimal breaks.  (Until you’re running for more than an hour straight the run/wal stuff should be set aside.  Psychologically, training yourself to run beats the hell out of optimizing distance).   If you can’t yet run at 45 minutes, get on an elliptical after 20-25.   Keep the pace up, the “long runs” increase your cardio conditioning so the “hard runs” get easier.
Step 3: Realize it WILL get better.  If you’re under 50 or so and in reasonable health, you should see big gains fast.  I went from 11:30 to 10 minutes, to 3x 10 minutes within the first 2 months.  Now, 10 months in, I’m breaking 7 minutes at my fastest, and I can “cruise” at an 8 minute mile (through about 5).   Had I not known that I needed to get into running shape, and not known that I would be able to do it, I would have been very, very discouraged early on.  It was a struggle, but since I’m easily goaded, I had to “Just do it”
Step 4:  Use a Preworkout drink: I recommend Redline from GNC.  It gives you quick energy.  Do it when you warm up, and you’ll be able to run.  I cut it with water because they all taste foul.  Watermelon is OK.  This will give you some gains, probably early on shave :20-4o seconds off the mile times.  You’ll feel quicker.  I didn’t discover this till a few months ago, and I don’t always use one, but it is an effective, modest bump.
Step 5: Realize You’re gonna Be Sore (and keep it secret) I was sore as hell starting, and if I had to do it again, I’d never have let on.  Because you hear the bullshit “Oh, don’t hurt yourself” from people that are non-runners.  Screw that.  You have to shut up, and have nobody-  especially not your spouse know.  Keeping it secret means that you are doing ti fro yourself . Other people will give you permission to flake.
Step 5: Have a schedule: When I started, I went three days on/2 days off, in a pattern.  Then I upped it to 4/2 and now I’m at  6/1 (weekly schedule).  The early stuff: 3/2 or 2/1/ got me to where I could increase it and get rest.  You need rest (how much, I have no clue).

Step 6: Push, push, push. It takes intensity.  And it takes consistency.  Stay on your schedule for a whole month, and it’ll be hard not to improve mile times by 25% first month, 15% second month, 10% third, etc.


Admitting You Were Wrong

I have a very, very long post coming in a day or two, but the gist is this:

For a lot of my life – including right now – I was wrong about a great many things.  The way I lived my life, the premises that I had, and the things I valued were wildly incorrect.  I was- and am – dead wrong.   About work, family, life, fear and trembling, and the whole mess.

Getting here sucked. One of the things that kept me mired was that I worried about the opinions of people that are no longer in my life.  Like, they had to understand the correct motivations behind my actions.  Once I let that go, and cultivated indifference towards all of it, life moved forward.  I had to stick around real estate for long enough to prove I could (stupid).  I kept friendships around that were draining because I wanted them to think a  certain thing about me (even stupider).

I was wrong about a lot, and instead of proving that I was right, my focus is on being right.  Big difference.


A Day Of Rest

Tomorrow, I’m not doing any cardio.  At all.

Not exercising, not going to go to the gym.  My legs will heal up and saturday I’ll do it again.  I’ll set some sort of personal record I’m sure, as there are many that I can break right now.

I started in December getting serious about fitness. Really going after it.  I wanted it to be sustainable, to be something that stayed with me forever rather than a diet or phase, or a bootcamp.  So I got intentional about reast.

I’m in bad shape. I’m in BETTER bad shape than I was 6 weeks ago, but I’m in bad shape. So, if I try to go 10 days in a row, I’ll hurt myself.  I can’t out-sprint fat.  It doesn’t work that way.

So I started by resting every 5th day and being hyper about working out the other 4.

That means that it’s worked like this:

  • Monday- I’m refreshed and rested, I should be fine to do a GREAT workout.
  • Tuesday-  the soreness didn’t accumulate.  Gotta work out.
  • Wed: Only One Day To Go, a little sore, but I’ll b 3/4 done.
  • Today: Gotta kill it. Leave it all out there because I don’t get to work out tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow – Rest
  • Saturday: back at it with a rest coming Wednesday.

This is good for me. Not because it’s physiologically optimal.  It’s almost certainly not. I can agree that there are probably more optimal routines, and the 4 on 1 off thing is fairly arbitrary.

But I’m doing it. I’m complying.  I can hack it mentally. I can easily keep track of how many days left/days to go. I can live a relatively spontaneous life and avoid deferring workouts till night.

Right now, I’m making great progress. I’m measuring me against me.

At some point I think I might go on  5/1 cycles, but I don’t see that happening before April at the earliest.  This is working, I’m keeping track.  I’m staying after it, and getting in shape.

I’m still stuck on the treadmill because i’m not in good enough shape to push myself without feedback.  Eventually I want to get off that, but that’ll require probably that I lose about 35 pounds. That in itself provides a hill to charge and a goal to overcome.