Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Too heavy to run?

Quote du jour: Start so slowly that people make fun of you.
- Covert Bailey, Fit or Fat

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I like to listen to Diet Girl and MizFit's podcast Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone. They're usually talking about a subject I find interesting, and even when it's not one of my fav topics I enjoy the banter betwixt the two. Plus, they bring on guest speakers who always have something good to share.

I enjoyed their last post, and the guest speaker, Julia Jones, had a lot of good things to say. Except... one thing she said gave me pause. And gave me depression. And made me wonder if I'm doing this running stuff all wrong.

A woman called in a question about recurrent shin splints, and she asked if being 5'3 and 210 was too heavy to run. Julia said "Yes. Wait until you're about 160 before you seriously consider running."

What? Huh? But... damn it, running is the thing that's causing me to shed the pounds in the first place. Cycling isn't doing it (though it's great for the cardio) and dieting merely makes me slow down energy-wise. The only thing that's causing a shift in the scale is running, and I'm supposed to stop it?

I googled sites like Runner's World to see what other people thought on this subject. Filtering out comments from big beefy men whose weight was mostly the result of being heavily muscled, the comments seemed evenly divided into two camps:
  1. Yes, it's okay if you take it easy.
  2. No! Don't do it! You're doomed! You'll be going along just fine, feeling great, and suddenly your knee will collapse and you'll be in pain for the rest of your life you fool!


I think perhaps we're talking about two different things.

"Running" can mean anything from moving at any speed that's faster than a walk, or it can mean taking less than 10 minutes to cover a mile.

To me, what I'm doing is slogging: jogging at the speed of slug. A walker moving at a brisk pace could easily keep up with me -- or even pass me, quite frankly. And the slightest twinge to an ankle or knee causes me to slow even further. I don't think I'm going to do anything seriously hurtful to my body. Plus, one nice thing about being out of shape is that even moving at a slug pace gets the breathing up, the sweat flowing, the pounds shifting. (Ha! You thin-and-fit people have to work a lot harder than I do to get a workout!)

I'm worrying about this subject just now because I am starting to move beyond the speed-of-slug running. Without thinking about it, I've been naturally moving to a faster pace. And it doesn't hurt; instead, it feels good.

(Yes, there are even times when I feel good about running. Not every time, but sometimes. Stop laughing, Marie!)

This is dangerous because feeling good about running leads to the desire to push myself further, faster, which I think I'm still too overweight to do safely. I'm not sure the knees and the joints are ready for that even if the rest of the body (and mind) think it's a cool idea.

I've decided that I'm going to keep up with my slightly-faster-than-slug pace, but I am not going to try anything like serious running yet. And if I do end up screwing something up, I'll slow down. Go back to Ellie the Elliptical or Rhoda the Rowing Machine. (Yes, I name my exercise equipment. I'm weird, but I enjoy it.)

I went back and listened to the podcast again. Actually what she said was that the 211 pound woman needed to be at least under 200 pounds, and to "seriously consider" running she needed to be under 160. I'm going to assume that my kind of running is the more frivolous type.

Exercise du jour: 2 miles running jogging at a slightly faster pace than previously.
Done! A day late, and I probably owe somebody a dollar, but done.


C said...

I didn't hear the podcast so I have no understanding of what 'seriously consider running' means in this respect. I am not a lightweight, yet I run. I run slow, but I run nonetheless.

Running is what helped me shed some pounds. I say if you want to, go ahead and run--just listen to your body.

messymimi said...

If you are not hurting, and your doctor gives you the okay, I would say to listen to your body and do what works for you.

Marste said...

I third (as opposed to "second") listening to your body. Maybe don't go running any marathons yet, but other than that . . . whatever. (Very scientific, aren't I?)

solarity said...

I, too, say Listen to Your Body. I have always been "too heavy to run" even though I'm not overweight. Since I was a small child (younger than six) running more than about fifty feet (on grass) has made my knees and ankles hurt.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

marie said...

Where is this poppycock about being too heavy to run?!

The only thing I ever tell people is that you should never, ever start running until you have the green light from your medical professional. If you have that, then have at 'er.

Everyone else can eff right off.

And you bet your sweet ass I laughed at that line.
Damn near peed my pants, even.

The Merry said...

In the podcast, the expert was answering a question from someone whose doctor had said 'nyet' to running due to injuries.

What worried me was people on the Runner's World site who said they'd done running-while-fat, been going along great and then one day their knee went snap, crackle, pop and they ended up doing a faceplant in the cement and having to crawl home.

But I agree that if you're really listening to your body, it should give you some warning before catastrophe strikes. I hope.

McB said...

hah! I'm finally able to comment again. For the longest time I could see the verifications.

Ms. Merry, you are missed. Not that we aren't perfectly capable of planning a second invasion to the pnw without you.*

Anyway, if this woman was 5'3" and over 200 pounds, how likely is it that she could have run hard and fast enough to do damage? And by the time she could run like that, she would have been in better shape overall and it wouldn't be such an issue.

lanity: the laid back path to insanity.

* see what happens when you don't pay attention?

The Merry said...

I got shin splints last year -- by walking. I was trying to speed up my walk pace and ended up hurting myself.
If I had listened to my body and not tried to keep going when it started to hurt, it wouldn't have hurt so much.
Stupidity. Unsafe at any speed.

Shelley said...

I listened to that podcast too and was disappointed to hear Julia's comment...running is what helped me shed the weight. I think when we are overweight, it's pretty hard to run super fast, so the chances of hurting ourselves are not greater than if a normal-sized person was running. I run, and rarely get super sore anymore, as long as I run several times a week to keep my legs remembering what they are doing.

Run, Merry, Run!

The Merry said...

Okay, I will :)

Gina Fit by 41, Maybe 42 said...

Slogging! That's me! walkers go faster than me (errrr...they were speed-walkers).

Great post. The question ran across my mind, too. I've been afraid to keep slogging while "carrying two bags of dog food" around.

Deb said...

Here's a question/answer on Shrinking Jeans from a marathon coach on running. I was concerned being so overweight that i would hurt myself.


The Merry said...

Thanks Deb! That's a useful link!

Gina, speed walkers are in a category of their own. (I know it's good exercise, I know it is, but gosh I bet they feel silly sometimes.)

Anonymous said...

Good job Marry,
I am 200 pounds, 5.6 tall and i started running a month ago. Now i run 2 miles in 25 minutes at my own pace. Yesterday i tried to go fast and now my knees hurt really bad. Today i will only walk and stretch. I am 26 year old and i am tired of bieng too fat. I need to work hard on myself to lose this fatty extra pounds that i dont need. So good job :)